I recently signed on as a volunteer emergency driver with the Toronto Wildlife Centre. And last Wednesday (Sept 24) I had an interview with Nick Morley of TWC. Basically the interview is for them to get to know who is interested, kinda see what they are about, go over some general questions and even discuss a few scenarios when it comes to picking up an injured animal from someone's home. It's all common sense really but some people sure do lack that at times.
Anyways, interview went great, mine went almost an hour as we chatted about lots of stuff and exchanged stories, even learning we both have Tarantulas which was pretty cool. Not many people have such creatures in their home.
With volunteer driving, when an animal is in need and TWC needs a driver, an email is first sent out to everyone on the list. It's a quick way to get in touch with a mass of people instead of the calling one by one.
Saturday the 27th, I got that first email. They were seeking a driver to go out to Mississauga Animal Control and pick up an injured Coopers Hawk to bring back to TWC.
A Coopers Hawk in our back yard on September 7th.
I responded first. And then had to wait for them to speak with MAC at opening time. No problem. Angie threw a quick breakfast together in the meantime.
TWC call me back and it's all good to go but they asked if I could help out an injured Opossum near our home first. He most likely was hit by a car and an elderly lady saw him laying on the side of the road. She had no idea what he was but knew he needed help. A big shout out to 81 year old Marion who stepped in to help this guy by making the call to TWC and partially containing him with a lidless box over him and a brick on top.
An Opossum we went to see the release of back into the wild, thanks to the help of Hobbitstee.
The location of the Opossum was very near our house, and the thought of him being in pain, under a box on the sidewalk, was all just too much to bear and away I went.
There's not a lot to the "rescue" since he was mostly contained but it's still an adventure talking to strangers, people watching from the street, and seeing this box with an injured animal inside and not really knowing what to expect. How injured is the animal? How big is he? Will he fight? He cannot be transported with the box since there is no lid. I brought a carrier along with me that our friends Dave and Andi gave us for our Falcon watches. The fun would be to get the Opossum into the carrier. But as soon as I lifted the box, my heart melted at the sight of the tiniest 'possum I've ever seen in the wild. Obviously a little guy just born this year. He gave me no trouble, pretty much played Possum, and I put a towel over him with some heavy gloves I have, and gently put him in the carrier. I'm hoping his lack of fight was because of his lack in size and not that he was so far gone. In a few days I will hopefully have an update on him.
Marion was a nice and kinda comical elderly woman. She asked me about the Opossum. She thought he was a giant rat species of some sort and surprised to learn he was from the marsupial family. I commend her on wanting to help an injured animal she knew nothing about, and perhaps found a little intimidating with his razor sharp teeth and long rat like tail. She made a comment about my hair, but in a positive way, saying I had really cool hair. LoL! Her husband stayed behind the scenes, watching from a far.
I thanked Marion for what she did, saying the animals need a lot more people like her in this city.
From there I went to pick up the Coopers Hawk. I had the radio off in order to keep things as quiet as possible for my sick passenger. I turned the A/C on since the day was heating up fast.
I picked up the Hawk, had to sign a few forms, and cover his carrier before taking him outside to the truck (this was in hopes to keep him calm and not struggle in his cage). I'm unsure of his injuries or what really happened to him. Both he and the Opossum were very quiet and still through the ride back to Toronto Wildlife.
I took one photo with my Blackberry and this is it here...
Coopers Hawk on the left, Opossum on the right, in the back of the GMC.
It is frowned upon to add further stress to the animals with photo ops. And really, other than for documentation purposes if need be, who would want to have pictures of an animal that is really sick and could be dead before the end of the day? What kind of memory is that? Most of us who take photos do it for the joy and hold fond memories to our photos.
It was an exciting "maiden voyage" that morning. I only wish Angie was able to be a part of it. But with us having lots of other plans on the go, she stayed home and kept us on track with other things. And she was happy I was able to help this time because Lord knows how many times I've had to turn down helping the Owl Foundation over the last 3 years. With emergency volunteer driving, there really isn't a lot of warning time, most often it's ASAP. We do what we can, when our schedules allow. Especially at my job, there isn't leeway on start times, coming in late, and anything else not to their liking goes on file. I feel guilt when I cannot help an animal and I feel very proud when I can. Whether I've played a part in saving the animal's life or just helped him get to a better place where his suffering ends quick and peaceful.
Prior to these two creatures, I've turned in about half a dozen animals to TWC, and only one made it back to the wild world again. I'm hoping my luck, and the animals', turns around some to a better ratio.
Please wish these two guys all the best at their stay in the hospital and may they see the light of day again.
So many of the animal rehab centres can use more volunteers and donations. Donations don't always have to be $$$ either, they all have wish lists. Come on, check your local centres and see if you can do a little something for them as well. Think of the animals!
I know right now that TWC really needs volunteer drivers from the King City area over to Markham. Please click on the link here and maybe you or a friend could be of some help one day.