On Following the Law, Even When it Hurts

I dedicate my life to caring for Tennessee’s native wildlife, and specialize in foxes, skunks, and raccoons, but unfortunately, there are hard limits on which animals I am allowed to save. In Tennessee, a fox, skunk, or raccoon can not be accepted for rehabilitation if it is over six months of age. This is because adult animals are slightly more likely to be infected with rabies.

I do respond to calls about sick and injured adults, but when that happens, the plan is not to rehabilitate them, but to euthanize them to end their suffering, or to test an animal for rabies when it has bitten someone. It is one of the hardest parts of the job but it is something I do out of a deep desire to prevent the animal from suffering, and to prevent the spread of serious diseases.

Unfortunately, some finders who call to check on these animals have a hard time understanding my obligation to follow the law. I have been yelled at, cursed, and even threatened when I’ve explained that I took a sick or injured adult animal for euthanasia. This makes an already painful experience so much harder. I do not euthanize animals out of malice, but out of love and passion and dedication, even when it breaks my heart.

Please be kind if a rehabilitator tells you they will be euthanizing an animal. We have a hard, demanding, unpaid job, and euthanasia is one of the hardest parts of it. We have to follow the law, even in cases when the law may seem unfair or even when you believe that an animal’s condition may be treatable.

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