Recently this columnist found himself on State Road 27 in Lake County, Florida around eight o’clock early one morning when he spotted cars slowing and another vehicle stopped in the left lane due to a fair sized bird (type unknown) wandering into the highway as if injured or ill. Without help, surely this bird would be hit by oncoming traffic causing possible tragedy for animal and human alike.
A concerned citizen had gotten out of her truck and was trying to assist and prevent the bird from re-entering the roadway. I also stopped and pulled my vehicle in front of hers. It was clear that action needed to be taken, but as is often the case in many places it was unclear what help was immediately available for wildlife in trouble. It is almost a helpless feeling to watch an animal in need and not know what professional help is available right there and then.
It has been my experience that animal services will respond for dogs, cats and perhaps other domestic animals when there is a need. However, wildlife often seem to walk the call of the unknown. In this case, I provided a blanket from my car to wrap around the bird and although the bird flapped open his or her beak in possible protest, the other driver proceeded to place the bird in her backseat so she could be taken to a natural vet that handles wildlife.
It is heartening to know that people care about the animals we share our world with, but as I thought later about what had happened a note of caution and the importance of information emerged within my mind. If the bird wasn’t safely removed from the road there could have been an accident caused with other drivers trying to avoid the bird as he/she wandered in the road. I commend the compassion of my fellow driver, but caution that placing a bird in someone’s vehicle can also present a potential hazard should the bird go wild in trying to move around while you’re driving. This is true for both the driver and any passengers (young and old) that are travelling together.
We shouldn’t have to hesitate to find resources that are needed in an animal emergency, whether domestic or wildlife is involved. It is important to have information readily available to know what to do in a situation like this. We all know that 911 is the common resource available for human emergencies, but does a 911 for animals exist?
This columnist contacted Marjorie Boyd, director of Lake County Animal Services, by email and asked her if there is a procedure or protocol for a citizen if they come across injured or ill wildlife on a road or within their neighborhood? Where can they call for emergency assistance to help injured wildlife?
Ms. Boyd responded, “We do handle injured animals, domestic and wildlife. You can call our shelter 352-343-9688 M-F 8am to 4pm and after hours emergencies only call the Sheriff’s Office 352-343-2101 and they will contact my on call officer.” If you live in Lake County, please note this information and add to your list of cell phone contacts. If not, please contact the animal services agency in your jurisdiction for the number to call if you come across injured or ill wildlife.
In the chaos of the moment I didn’t get the other driver’s name or contact information so I don’t have an end to this story. I hope all went well for human and animal alike.
To follow up on a mention in our last column about the Harbor House Kennel Project, Dr. Phillips Charities has awarded Harbor House a $124,000 grant “. . . to assist with the construction of a storage facility that will be attached to the Paws for Peace Kennel – an expansion that will allow survivors to bring their pets with them into safe shelter. Dr. Phillips Charities awarded the funds in the form of a Challenge grant to the community, and will match the value of every in-kind or cash donation made to the kennel project up to the amount awarded.”
RC Stevens Construction, the kennel project construction firm, will now have the opportunity to “champion” collection of in-kind construction materials to benefit this endeavor.
Said Tim Keating, president of RC Stevens,”We are thrilled to have been selected as the build partner on this worthy project, and are 100% committed to the mission of Harbor House. This project gives us the opportunity to show our commitment in a tangible way by actively searching for donations to leverage the generosity of Dr. Phillips Charities.”
With Dr. Phillips Charities graciously agreeing to fund the storage area of the kennel facility, all subsequent donations will be directed to benefit the kennel facility housing pets. Said Carol Wick, CEO of Harbor House of Central Florida, “The Kennel will be a critical tool in breaking down barriers that keep survivors of domestic abuse trapped. We are optimistic about the community’s response to the challenge put forth by Dr. Phillips Charities so we can make this dream a reality for Central Florida.”
This is a very worthy project for the citizens and business community of Central Florida to support, but all remaining funds for the kennel must be raised by December 31st. There are two primary avenues to assist, as follows:
1. Participate in the 2nd Annual Harbor House Paws Walk and Campaign. Register to walk and/or set up a personal fundraising page (or have your dog, cat, goldfish, hamster, or any other furry, scaly, slimy pet set one up!). Visit the Harbor House website to register for the walk or set up a page. A brief ground breaking moment for the kennel will take place prior to the November 5th walk.
Harbor House’s 2nd Annual Paws Walk
When: Saturday, Nov. 5th
Registration: 8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.
Walk and Festival to Follow: 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Blue Jacket Park located at: 2501 General Rees Avenue, Orlando, Florida
2. Support the construction of the kennel by providing needed in-kind materials. In-kind needs for the construction of the kennel include everything from windows to concrete to chain-link fence. For more information, contact Brandon Conaway with RC Stevens Construction at firstname.lastname@example.org. Specific in-kind needs for the construction of the kennel can be found here.
Domestic violence takes us to the dark side of life for both human and animals alike who must live in fear every day. Help these victims survive and to once again find hope when the sun rises on a new day.
Finally, we wanted to mention the latest on SeaWorld that has just come to our attention. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) “. . . are filing a lawsuit asking a federal court to declare that five wild-caught orcas forced to perform at SeaWorld are being held as slaves in violation of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The filing—the first ever seeking to apply the 13th Amendment to nonhuman animals—names the five orcas as plaintiffs and also seeks their release to their natural habitats or seaside sanctuaries.” Three marine-mammal experts and two former orca trainers are filing with PETA as part of this lawsuit.
Based on the plain text of the 13th Amendment, which prohibits the condition of slavery without reference to “person” or any particular class of victim, Jeffrey Kerr (general counsel to PETA) asserts, “Slavery is slavery, and it does not depend on the species of the slave any more than it depends on gender, race, or religion.”
Says PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk, “All five of these orcas were violently seized from the ocean and taken from their families as babies. They are denied freedom and everything else that is natural and important to them while kept in small concrete tanks and reduced to performing stupid tricks. The 13th Amendment prohibits slavery, and these orcas are, by definition, slaves.”
While we don’t think this lawsuit has much chance to go anywhere, won’t it be groundbreaking if it did? Just think of the positive and compassionate ramifications of actually allowing animals in the wild to be free from the greed of humankind. What a truly enlightened concept to embrace. Unfortunately, this columnist doesn’t believe the courts have risen to this level of enlightenment and quite frankly many in society have not either.
The comments responding to PETA’s action have been both pro and con, but we think this comment says it best, “It is so disgusting for any establishment such as Sea World to capture Orca’s from the ocean and lock them up in a small so called home like this. Whales were not meant to be treated like this nor be trained to do tricks for human beings. I used to go to Marineland to watch animals perform, but haven’t done so for many years after learning how these beautiful animals are treated and housed in small enclosures. I sincerely hope that PETA is able to get these Orca’s freed. Please try to shut down all the Sea World facilities. The world’s beautiful animals need to be treated with respect and kindness, not like ‘slaves’.” From an enlightened world, amen!
If you want to help these animals “imprisoned” by SeaWorld write to The Blackstone Group, the company that owns SeaWorld, to ask them to immediately put forth a “firm and rapid plan” to release the animals to sanctuaries that can provide them with an “appropriate and more natural environment.” Click here to write today.
In spirit, the 13th Amendment exists to abolish all forms of slavery – – human or animal. This lawsuit is the next progression in our evolution as a humane world giving us a chance to put the shame of how humankind has treated animals behind us. Let’s see how truly enlightened and far we have come.