The following lovely article about squirrel rescue, which ran in the Saturday, September 17 San Francisco Chronicle (pg F3), noted, at the bottom:
"Sierra Wildlife Rescue and the Performing Animal Welfare Society are hosting a fundraiser on Oct. 22 at Ark 2000, a 2,300-acre sanctuary in San Andreas. Proceeds benefit both groups. For information, call Cindy or Ed Minghelli at (916) 939-8950 by Oct. 1."
The article is available on line at http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/09/17/HOG6CENHR11.DTL and I will paste it below.
Enjoy the article, and please express appreciation for it with a letter to the editor. The Chronicle takes letters at firstname.lastname@example.org
Paris Tilton's not-so-simple life
Things became complex for the squirrel with what animal rescuers suspect was a near-fatal dose of pesticide
- Alison Rood, Special to The Chronicle
Saturday, September 17, 2005
Cindy and Ed Minghelli were heading out to dinner when a woman, distraught to the point of hysteria, called and said there was a squirrel in her backyard dangling from a tree limb, screaming. Cindy Minghelli instructed her to place a box under the squirrel so that it could drop down from the branch. Once the squirrel was contained, Minghelli -- who had scrapped her dinner plans by then -- drove to the woman's home and retrieved the squirrel.
It turned out that a neighbor's son had shot the animal, a fox squirrel, with a BB gun, and the BB had lodged in the squirrel's spine, paralyzing it from the waist down.
"This squirrel was minding its own business, looking for food, trying to eke out a living, and a kid comes along and shoots him -- for fun, for sport, because he's bored -- who knows why," Minghelli said angrily. "He just decides that inflicting pain on a defenseless creature and destroying its life forever is a good thing to do at that moment."
Minghelli, a tireless ambassador for animal rights, nicknamed the squirrel B.B. King and admitted him to the "squirrel clinic" on the Minghellis' acreage in the El Dorado Hills. El Dorado Hills is a community at the base of the Sierra foothills, where rural homes are sandwiched among explosive suburban sprawl, much of it coming directly from the Bay Area. The Minghellis are members of Sierra Wildlife Rescue, an organization licensed by the Department of Fish and Game to rehabilitate and release injured and orphaned wildlife and teach the public how to live with wild animals and respect their habitat. The Minghelli home brims with the evidence of their work, from the hanging bird feeders to rescued feral cats to big lovable dogs.
I met the Minghellis about a year ago, when a part-Bengal cat I'd rescued kept finding and bringing home juvenile squirrels. After my third distress call to Sierra Wildlife Rescue and the Minghellis' prompt response, I recognized how selfless animal rehabbers are, and felt guilty. Here was a group of people who work for free, drop whatever they're doing to help injured wildlife and who depend on volunteers and donations to exist. How could I proclaim my devotion to nature if I didn't contribute to the cause?
On a rainy morning last spring, I stood in Cindy Minghelli's squirrel shed and watched her rehydrate 3-week-old babies left motherless and homeless when homeowners cleared out some trees from their yard. She told me that most squirrel babies need rescuing because people prune or cut down trees during the nesting season, which runs from February through October. "If people would wait until late fall or early winter to prune trees or take them out, it would save squirrels a lot of grief," she says.
Other squirrels require medical attention when they ingest poisons such as Decon that are not environmentally friendly. Minghelli recently cared for a squirrel that she suspects came into contact with that toxin, because the homeowner who found the sick animal admitted using it. The squirrel had been running around in circles with its head tilted at a severe angle when Minghelli rescued her. Dubbed Paris Tilton, she gradually recovered with homeopathic treatment. Homeopathy often works wonders with injured squirrels.
"People need to realize that the poisons they use in their yards not only have an adverse effect on the environment, but also on the wild animals living in that environment," Minghelli says. "Decon is an anti-coagulant that causes an animal to slowly bleed to death over several days. It's horribly cruel."
I got off to a shaky start with my own attempt at rehabbing. My two babies were rescued from yet another tree removal and had a bad case of diarrhea. At one point, they became dehydrated, which can be deadly. My kitchen turned into a hospice filled with homeopathic medicines, hydrating fluids and a special formula that's close to mother squirrel milk. Slowly the babies improved, and three weeks after arriving, they were healthy and rambunctious.
As difficult as my job was, it was nothing compared with the challenges the Minghellis and other veteran rehabbers routinely face. Cindy Minghelli and Nan Powers worked together for months to nurse Squirrel Girl back to health when she was hit by a car and suffered head trauma and a broken jaw. As for B.B. King, there's no telling if homeopathic treatment and physical therapy will heal his damaged body. If Minghelli had her wish, parents would never give their children BB guns.
"It's one thing when a nest falls out of a tree, but it's another thing when an animal is specifically targeted, like the kid with the gun. As a rehabber, your morale plummets." She keeps doing it, she says, because "we have to give back, no matter what."
As a novice rehabber, I can't begin to describe how it feels to care for a wild animal, knowing that if all goes well, it will be returned to its natural environment. It's a privilege, but a privilege that's bittersweet. Most wild animals wouldn't need human intervention in the first place if we didn't harm them and the wild places where they thrive.
Sierra Wildlife Rescue and the Performing Animal Welfare Society are hosting a fundraiser on Oct. 22 at Ark 2000, a 2,300-acre sanctuary in San Andreas. Proceeds benefit both groups. For information, call Cindy or Ed Minghelli at (916) 939-8950 by Oct. 1.
E-mail freelance writer Alison Rood at email@example.com.
(END OF CHRONICLE PIECE)
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Date: Sun Sep 18 20:08:46 2005