Sunday, July 20, 2008

There are some stainless Rescues out there

There is an article in the Chronicle Herald today about the Hope for Wildlife Society over in Seaforth and it got me to thinking about local rescues - and there are some rescues that don't have any drama attached to them - and Hope Swinamer's rescue is one of them. It's pretty interesting. All their organization does is help animals. Pick of the Litter Society out in Bedford is another one - run by Inge Sadler - they foster and save premature kittens - Inge is the go to woman for the whole province for abandoned and motherless premature kittens. She is absolutely amazing. And she is a fountain of information about all things cat, really. And I was talking the other day about the Companion Animal Protection Society up in the Valley. Up in New Brunswick - there's the Oromocto SPCA that always steps up to the plate whenever seizures happen - because that area of the country is absolutely rife with puppy mills - do you remember when that crazy man killed the pomeranians with a stick but not all of them died? It was the Oromocto SPCA who took those poor dogs in. Now THAT was sad. The little dog Raymond did recover though and was adopted out.

Bide a Wile Shelter has been able to build a whole NEW SHELTER without hardly anyone noticing - isn't that super? Now that is something. That is fabulous! They must be doing something right!

SHAID Tree Animal Shelter in Bridgewater has internal struggles from time to time I think - but their committment to animals is legendary. And the people down in Shelburne have been doing amazing things to resurrect the Beulah Berman Memorial Animal Shelter.

So while we go on and on about all the things wrong with one organization - people are still going out and doing good things - day after day, trying to make a difference - and succeeding at it - with little to no recognition. And that is amazing.

When the Chronicle Herald did the article - SPCA Adoptions drop off - maybe there WAS a reason for it - maybe people don't want so much controversy around the hard earned money they're giving away. Maybe they want to see goodness and help - which is what these other rescues are doing.


In the article below the open house this year for the Hope for Wildlife Society is August 24th - it's always a great day out.

In the yard outside, a recovering fawn

For Hurt Animals - a last Hope

Young, unblinking eyes look out in the stillness of this strange place. He sits quietly, remarkably so, for the ordeal he’s endured. A dead mouse lies untouched beside him. He stares as she approaches.

"Hello, beautiful," Hope Swinimer coos soothingly, as she opens the door to one of the small cages tucked low inside a darkened barn.

The red-tailed hawk doesn’t move a muscle.

"They said he was hit by a train," she says, edging closer to cast a concerned eye over the newcomer dubbed Via.

But he seems calm, low-key, not overly stressed. He’s been checked at the Dartmouth Veterinary Hospital, where Ms. Swinimer works. X-rays don’t show any broken bones.

None of that necessarily means he’s OK.

But his odds of survival just got a whole lot better.

Via has come to Hope For Wildlife, a licensed rehabilitation centre operating from Ms. Swinimer’s home in Seaforth, on the shores of Gaetz Lake. Since 1996, Ms. Swinimer’s charity has provided the best — and last — chance for as many as 1,100 abandoned, orphaned or injured animals each year to one day return to the wild.

Hope Swinimer, founder and director of the Hope for Wildlife Society, holds a northern saw-whet owl at her shelter in Seaforth, near Halifax.

They’ve been shot, poisoned, covered in oil.

They’ve been separated from their mothers, like most of the 250 orphaned raccoon babies here now.

They’ve been mauled by cats or, like the porcupine that at first couldn’t even move his hind end, mangled by dogs.

They’ve struck windows, like the woodpecker with a tilted head in the bird nursery.

They’ve swallowed garbage.

Some, like the barred owl perched high in a flight cage, were struck by vehicles. Rescued after hitting a salt truck last November, Salty will be set free in just a few weeks.

Not all are so lucky.

At least four of the 16 bald eagles here in the past year couldn’t recover from their wounds and were euthanized. One of them lost a foot in a bobcat snare. Another was trapped in a snare meant for a coyote.

All of the animals have one thing in common, she says.

"All of our patients are because of human-wildlife conflicts. Maybe two per cent are acts of nature," she says.

Even then, humans are often involved.

In a large enclosed pen, one of 13 fawns curls hidden in the long grass, one leg in a cast after surgery to reconnect a tendon severed by a fox.

Ms. Swinimer says that same fawn had been rescued from a dug well, but by that time, it was long separated from its mother and an easier target for prey.

In an incubator, there are reminders of life, even in death. A snapping turtle with a broken leg and jaw was kept on pain medication to give her a chance to lay her eggs. Eggs laid, the fatally injured turtle was euthanized, and everyone waits for signs that the warming eggs will hatch.

The decision to euthanize is never easy.

"In the summer, you don’t sleep, you just work night and day and you get through it. You don’t have as much time to dwell on the sadness of some of the cases. But in winter, these tend to be our real tough cases, the ones we’re going to try to winter-over, we’re going to see if they’re going to make it or not. You work with an animal maybe six months and you end up having to euthanize. These to me are the real tough cases.

"But they’re all hard."

Hope For Wildlife began caring for deer three years ago, raptors just one year ago.

But there’s no animal that people here won’t try to help get well enough to go home.

"We have a responsibility to fix the problems we have caused. That’s why I would never turn away any kind of wildlife."

But money is always an issue. The centre needs about $350,000 each year, mostly coming from public donations and fundraisers — like the open house celebration planned Aug. 24. Corporate and government grants also help, but how much might come through each year is always in question, she says.

And there’s more Ms. Swinimer, who recently received a Canadian Wildlife Federation conservation award for her work, would like to do. High on the wish list is a laboratory complete with X-ray machine and incubators so animals could be diagnosed on-site instead of having to make difficult journeys to vet offices.

She also hopes to set up remote cameras and big screens so visitors can see the animals, without causing them any stress.

That would help her educate the public, she says.

Although the centre isn’t usually open for visitors, she does allow scheduled tours, often to children.

"My goal is to make people more tolerant," she says. "We’ve got to learn to live more comfortably with nature."


  1. Hey, Astro here. Looks like you're doing some pretty great work, too. Love to hear about other rescues and how they're saving our very valuable lives. I say valuable, 'cause my Mom couldn't live without me. Thanks for checking us out, too. Don't miss my fellow Rotties at
    I'll make sure to put you on my check this out section.Later!

  2. Tracy3:44 PM

    Thanks for the kind words again Joan!! We appreciate it!
    All of us at the Oromocto and Area SPCA!

  3. adele b.9:08 PM

    I'd like to add the TLC Animal Shelter in Digby to the list. They're a small shelter with a big heart for the animals in their care.