WESTFORD — Joanne Dennison was on I-495 when she saw an injured bird of prey on the side of the road. Its left wing appeared damaged as it sat suffering in the snow. As a life-long animal lover, Dennison instinctually drove home to research who to contact to save this bird’s life.
With a spiral of web pages and phone numbers in front of her, she called Tufts Wildlife Clinic, who provided her with a variety of resources and rehabilitation centers in the area.
“I was so excited, I was almost in tears,” Dennison told WestfordCAT.
As a business owner, Dennison is like every other Westford resident. However, she is adamant on informing her community how to save the injured wildlife in their area.
When Dennison saw the bird on the interstate, she only had a couple of hours to find it help. While speaking with rehabilitator Alison Webber of Wayland, Webber said the bird may have a couple of days, hopping around to eat mice and insects. She told Dennison to be hopeful that someone else may find it. Webber informed Dennison that different rehabilitators take different animals in different conditions.
“Some will handle wildlife, some will just kill it,” Dennison says.
Tufts Wildlife Clinic, on the other hand, admits everything but healthy or orphaned wildlife. The clinic has an organized page to redirect you to instructions if Tufts can’t admit the animal you found. From skunks to reptiles, there are detailed instructions on how to assess the situation and who to contact afterwards.
It also gives information on how Massachusetts residents can become a rehabilitator themselves. Dozens of wildlife rehabilitators provide services for a variety of animals, including Westford’s own Avery Adam, who treats a number of small mammals in her home.
Dennison has found that typically, people will only call Animal Control over rabid wildlife or a stray dog. She feels that no one is aware there are resources available to help other animals that are simply in distress or even in crisis.
“I look at the circle of life and the ecosystem in general and all of these animals are essential to one another,” Dennison says.
Westford Animal Control, however, works to “to protect all members of families, both 2-legged and 4-legged,” according to the department’s website. According to state listings, Westford’s Animal Control Officer Kirsten Hirschler is authorised to provide rehabilitation services to mammals in need.
From the owls that quietly inhabited Dennison’s backyard, to aggressive coyotes in the area, Dennison believes they are all important and deserve treatment.
“The whole environmental conservation mindset is very much in [Westford], so I think a lot of these people would want to know how to get help for sick or injured animals,” Dennison says. Dennison agrees that political, demographic and prioritized affiliations may sway someone’s opinion on this topic, but everyone should at the very least educate themselves.
Dennison would like there to be an easy to find page on the Westford Government website or on the Facebook page, that includes other accessible resources, like Tufts. She adds there should be disclaimers, though, that not every town handles it the same way.
“I want the community to be aware and know there are resources and hopefully know some place […] that they can go to quickly to know what they should do if they need to help an animal,” Dennison says.
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