In almost any American city, when our cats, dogs, and other companion animals need medical attention, we have options for urgent care: the local veterinarian or veterinary clinic or hospital. The nation has about 70,000 veterinarians, and one of the fastest growing veterinary organizations is our own Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association. These days, there are vet specialists and veterinary disciplines, and collectively, they are providing some remarkable care for animals.
A heron treated at the South Florida Wildlife Center.
But what’s our course of action when we come across a sick or injured turtle, raccoon, opossum, hawk, or other wild creature in distress? Some veterinarians and their clinics may be able to help, but the best hope is often a local wildlife care or rehabilitation center in the vicinity. The nation, fortunately, has a network of hundreds of these facilities, thanks to the selfless work of the people who devote their lives to these creatures in need. These facilities constitute a class of animal welfare operations that don’t get the recognition or attention they deserve.
The HSUS and The Fund for Animals own and operate three wildlife centers, and the biggest of them is our South Florida Wildlife Center. There, our team of veterinarians, animal technicians, and volunteers treat, rehabilitate, and/or release more than 12,000 animals every year—and it’s one of the biggest wildlife care centers in the nation. It also operates wildlife ambulances to rescue animals in crisis.
Today, you can take a sneak peek at a few of the center’s patients. Many animals arrive there after being hit by cars, orphaned, or entangled in trash or fishing gear. The center’s expert staff then work to patch them up and prepare them to return to the wild. These creatures are among the more than 100,000 animals of all kinds HSUS staff provide direct care to every year through our animal care centers, veterinary programs, emergency rescue deployments, and other hands-on work around the world.