First printed in the Tallahassee
Democrat, March 17 1998
Would-be animal rescuers must
- St. Francis Wildlife - 386-6296
- Tallahassee Animal Shelter - 891-6790
- Leon County Animal Control - 487-3172
- Northwood Animal Hospital - 385-7387, 1881 M. L. King
- Allied Veterinarians Emergency
Hospital - 222-0123,
9th Ave. & Thomasville
You're on your way home. Suddenly, an animal
darts across the road. You slam on the brakes, but not quickly
At some time, all
of us have encountered
injured animals, both wild and
domestic, mostly on the roads.
Sometimes it's difficult to
determine what is best for the individual
situation. The most important thing is not to make
situation worse. Inadequate preparation or improper handling
of the animal, might exacerbate the injuries or harm you.
If not removed from the road, the animal
will be repeatedly terrorized by passing cars and eventually
killed. An injured or dead animal may also cause other animals,
looking for an easy meal, to be killed.
In my car, I keep some basic emergency
- a blanket or large, heavy towel
- heavy welders gloves
- a sturdy cardboard box with air-holes
punched into the flaps (the box can be stored flat until needed)
- a flashlight
- duct tape
"Think safety first," says Jon
Johnson, executive director of St. Francis Wildlife. "You
don't want to hurt yourself or the animal. Park your car off
the road, then sit there for a moment and think about the situation.
Carefully consider all the possibilities. Think about how you're
going to pick up the animal or move it out of harm's
A wild animal
will view you as a predator.
Even a normally docile pet may
be frightened and try to protect
itself. Don't let your guard
down for a minute.
may try to bite. Birds of prey
(hawks and owls) may try to
grab you with their powerful feet
and sharp talons. Many
water birds, like loons and herons, will
lunge at your face
with their dagger-like beaks. Deer will kick.
Avoid being bitten
or scratched at any
cost. Never handle raccoons, foxes, bats,
or any mammals (even
babies) that may carry rabies. If an
unvaccinated mammal bites
or scratches you, it will have to
be killed to be tested for
While Florida's squirrels, rabbits and
opossums have not been known to carry rabies, adults can inflict
a nasty bite when frightened. Always use heavy leather gloves
and common sense.
reptiles never carry rabies.
The right approach is essential
Quietly approach the animal, from the rear
if possible. Carefully place a towel or blanket over it, covering
the animal completely.
Avoid a bird of prey's feet. Hold its folded
wings against its sides, point the feet away from you, and pick
it up, blanket and all. Grasp a water bird's long beak with one
hand. Birds will be much calmer if kept in the dark.
If it is a small mammal, like an opossum
or cat, put the box on its side next to the animal. Hold up the
towel to screen your hands from his view, and, wearing the leather
gloves, gently push him into the box.
Once you have a bird or animal in the box,
securely fold or tape the flaps. Keep the animal quiet. Do not
allow children to stare at it or handle it. Wild animals are
dog can be eased onto the blanket
and dragged to your vehicle
or the roadside, or the blanket may
be carried as a
Tape up a
turtle's cracked shell to prevent
dehydration. Injured snakes
can be carried in a tied up pillowcase.
Even a dead opossum may have some life
If you find tiny babies in the pouch on her belly, keep
warm, and take them immediately to Northwood Animal Hospital
where they will be placed in an incubator.
Exhaust fumes and the possibility of heat
stroke make transporting animals in car trunks very dangerous.
"Don't take an injured animal home,"
Johnson stresses. "It will need medication and specialized
care. A bird's fragile broken bones need to be set properly and
immediately. Wild animals that seem tame may actually be in
you do if you feel unable to
rescue the animal
hours, we'll suggest that people
take injured cats or dogs to
an emergency animal clinic, or we'll
send an officer to help
out or call an Animal Control worker,"
Walker with the Leon County Sheriff's Department.
it's a wild animal, we advise people to call St. Francis
Wildlife has a 24-hour emergency
For domestic animals within the city limits,
call the Tallahassee Animal Shelter. In Leon County, call Leon
County Animal Control.
Rescued wildlife can be dropped off at
Animal Hospital, day or night.
Injured dogs and cats can be taken to Northwood
Animal Hospital or Allied Veterinarians Emergency Hospital. Both
provide after hours emergency care and treatment.
Mark the location before calling for
If you must leave
the site where an injured
animal is, mark the spot in some
way. Tie a rag on a tree. Then
note the exact mileage from
the site to the nearest landmark,
and call for help
I've known exactly where to
look, I've been able to find
injured animals which have dragged
themselves 25 yards and
more into the woods. 'It's about a mile
past the hill,'
doesn't give me much to go on," said Johnson.
Some will ask, "Why not let nature
take its course?"
our pets or wildlife are the victims
of automobile collisions
. . . this is not nature's doing.
Our town is blessed with veterinarians
wildlife rehabilitators who give freely of their time and
expertise. Our own ability to help is greatly enhanced when we
are prepared with a few emergency items, some knowledge of animal
behavior, and a compassionate heart.