Driving along the roads of Fountain and Warren counties one may observe evidence of wildlife versus car accidents, when the animal lost the contest, of sorts. What many people never consider is that animal was trying forage for a family.
In the state of Indiana there are wildlife rehabilitators for the young squirrels, raccoons and possums. Anything that gets found by animal control, police departments will place with a licensed Department of Natural Resources caregiver. Locally Sandy Blackburn is one of the state’s licensed animal rehabilitation specialists, one of only 30 that services the entire state. She has My Little Slice of Heaven Wildife Rescue at her home on Brady Street, Attica.
“I keep busy,” Blackburn stated. “Driving a three-hour trip to retrieve whatever injured animal and assess their needs to begin caring for them.”
Blackburn began taking care of special needs animal about eight years ago when she was called to the scene of a house fire. Her husband is a firefighter for the Attica department. There was a family of feral cats and one had been badly burned. She talked to a friend who was also an animal rehabber. As she nursed the cat back to health, she began to realize that she wanted to pursue doing it as a licensed rehabber, she said.
At the back of her home is a nursery area where cages are adjusted to serve whatever critter may come to heal at her home in Attica.
“Depending on the injuries, the DNR gives me a scheduled release date and I release the animals back near where they’re found,” Blackburn explains. “Once an animal is done needing to be hand fed, they’re moved outside into one of the enclosures that allow the animals to exercise and socialize using their natural instincts as much as possible.”
In the event raccoons are trying to nest in a barn or backyard, the best way to make the animals move on is to have bright lights, a radio and perfume to peacefully get the creatures to move on, Blackburn stated. “Those three things represent danger to an animal. If it smells like human and is noisy, they will move on their own.”
Live trapping the animals and hauling them off or killing them is making orphans. If you remove the mother from the babies, the babies will die. Also putting an animal in unfamiliar territory subjects it to death by rivals in territory, and exposure to possible starvation, Blackburn continued.
“Make your home a not a nice place to live for the wildlife, and keep it in good repair, so there are no gaps for mice, raccoons or squirrels to move into,” she added.
Blackburn does this on her own without a paycheck for the rescues or rehabilitation, so donations are extremely important to the survival of animals and the services provided to the animals health and well-being, she said. Donations are vital.
“It would be a great help to get expired fresh produce, or even bags of frozen vegetables,” Blackburn continued. She supplements fresh veggies with bags of cat food or dog food, to keep the diet as natural and familiar to what the animals will find upon release.
“We use species specific formulas to raise the babies and we vaccinate to prevent spread of disease,” Blackburn continued. “We often get animals with broken bones or hit by a car and they need veterinary care, which also doesn’t happen for free.” During a calendar year Blackburn takes in 150 animals per year.
To contact Blackburn at My Little Slice of Heaven, her phone number is 765-585-5244, and her email address is email@example.com.