If you’re feeling sick, or if you get hurt, your first instinct is to take a trip to the clinic, your family doctor, or the hospital. While you’re there, you’ll be given medicine, or the care you need, and you get sent back home. Sounds easy, right? Well, not everything has it that easy. Especially animals. And from the animals, wild animals have it the hardest. Luckily, there is a doctor for these wild animals who may need a little bit of help. Salthaven Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre is a non-profit organization who aims at helping wild animals recover.
Brain C. Salt is the founder and the director of Salthaven, and he explains what exactly rehabilitation means.
“We bring in sick, injured or orphaned wild animals, and we get them back into a state where they can be released back into their natural environment again.”
Salthaven helps many different types of animals, they offer care to animals such as birds, chipmunks and even deer. With so many animals in the centre, it’s important to make sure that all of the animals are getting the proper care and help, and that the help is specified to their needs. Salt explains how the rehabilitation process works.
“Salthaven is divided into different administrative compartments. We have a raptor crew, they take care of basically hawks, owls and eagles. We have a bat squad, they take care of just bats. We have a clinical volunteer group, they take care of song birds, and small mammals. So it’s kind of a convoluted effort on all sides.”
Many people assume that since London is a city, that wildlife care may not be needed. But, animals from owls, to chipmunks, to bats, to snakes are considered to be wildlife. Brian C. Salt explains why rehabilitation services should be offered, even in the city.
“Some people believe that animals don’t hurt the same way we hurt, but they do. And often times, we’re the cause of that hurt. So our awareness program, through our education presentations, is to help people be aware of their actions and how it impacts the environment, and the animals that live there. We breathe the same air, we drink the same water, it just makes sense that we should want to be concerned.”
Salthaven being a non-profit organization makes it difficult throughout the year, as they need about $160, 000 a year to tend to all of the animals, which means the money needs to be raised themselves through fundraisers, or given through donations. Salt explains that the government at the municipal level does not offer any money support, which makes it hard as well.
Even without the proper funding, Salthaven makes it work as much as they can to try and save these animals lives. The founder explains their success rate with the wildlife.
“We see about 2,000 patients a year, and we have about a 70% success rate with those patients that we see, and getting them back into the environment again.”
Salthaven receives about 140 phone calls daily from individuals who have found sick, injured or orphaned animals. Salthaven is able to talk you through what to do if you do find an animal before they arrive to get it. Brian C. Salt explains that quite often people want to be nurturing and feed the animal they find, but he says that feeding a wild animal is possibly the worst thing you can do for it. He says it’s actually better to let it starve than to feed it. Salt explains what the worst thing to feed a wild animal is.
“What do we feed babies? Milk. And so, cows milk is probably one of the fastest killers of wildlife that I know of. It’s not appropriate nourishment for most wildlife whatsoever.”
Salt says that people sometimes don’t believe that they shouldn’t feed the hurt animal, so he provided numbers if you feed it before Salthaven arrives.
“We have a 70% success rate in getting animals back out into the wild when they get here. But if they’re fed prior to coming, that figure drops down to 19%.”
If you find an animal that is injured or sick, call Salthaven Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre at (519)-264-2440 for more information on what you should do. You can also visit their website at www.salthaven.org.