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Showing Up For Animals

feeding baby squirrel

The other day a friend brought me home from an outing and we noticed a stray dog running through the backyards. The dog was wearing a collar and we tried to get the dog to come to us, but the dog just stayed what s/he considered a safe distance away from us and watched, then eventually turned and trotted away from us.

My friend got in her car and slowly followed the dog and I called Missoula Animal Control and reported the sighting.

An officer came out and searched, but didn’t find the dog. I chatted with him, asking what I should do if I saw the dog again, and he said to give them a call.

Later my friend messaged me and said she thought the dog had gotten home. She noticed that s/he went into a yard and was greeted by another dog, and appeared to be at home.

This got me to thinking about the care of animals and what it means to show up for them.

What Does It Mean To Show Up For Animals?

Yes, I show up for Max and Raven daily – hourly even – to care and nurture them, making sure they have what they need, everything from treats to medical care.

Yet showing up for animals is more than just showing up for my two. It’s being on the lookout for what’s happening to the animals around me AND having a game plan in the back of my mind for what I need to do when I run into a lost or injured animal, those situations that don’t happen to me frequently.

I need to be prepared, I need to educate myself on what to do, how to best help the animal without causing further fear, injury or danger to them.

Often I’ve jokingly said that I’m not in rescue for a reason. That’s only true to a point; it’s more true that I can no longer use the luxury of that excuse to avoid showing up for animals, whether they are domesticated pets or wildlife.

The key point for me is educating myself and being prepared. So I’m going to be doing some research over the next few days, preparing myself for the next time I have that unexpected experience with an animal. I’m going to be talking with rescue folks and rehabbers, learning the basics of what I can do, how I can best help. If that is putting their contact info in my iPhone and calling them, so be it. If it is leaving the baby bird alone and not interfering from my need to help as a good Samaritan, so be it.

What To Do If You Find A Lost Or Injured Animal

I connected with a Facebook friend, Adele Lewis, who also happens to live in Montana. Adele’s diverse background in biology, assisting in veterinary clinics, living with different exotic animals and working as a volunteer wildlife rehabilitator gives her an exceptional perspective in how to show up to help wildlife. You can read about Adele’s life with Ara, her python, here. Adele had this to say regarding handling/helping wildlife.:

“I’ve been thinking about this and there is too much to say about actually handling injured or orphaned wildlife. Probably the best plan is to find phone numbers in advance for rescue people in your area. Then call one of them to ask about a specific situation. Where I live, people can get numbers for wildlife rehabilitators through a 911 non-emergency phone call. Animal shelters should also have them. The Emergency Pet clinic on Reserve in Missoula will take injured and orphaned wildlife. Also Brooke Tanner with Wild Skies Raptor Center near Potomac is a great one to call. She works primarily with raptors but will take or re-direct others. Judy Hoy in Stevensville is another experienced wildlife rehabilitator in our area.

“Please remember it is illegal to keep native wildlife, even with the intention of helping them. It also is unfair to the animals because they need knowledgeable people who can help them return to the wild.”

Here are some numbers you may find helpful:

What steps have you taken in preparing yourself so you can show up for the animals? Please share and leave a comment. Your information can help another person help an animal in need.

Here’s To New Beginnings,

Janet Roper


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