We wildlife rehabbers love animals of all kinds! We understand how upsetting and frustrating it can be if your dog is hurt and you can’t afford a vet, or if your canary escaped, or if your cow rejects her calf, or if your chicken has to be tube fed. But as much as we’d love to be able to help in these situations, these are outside the scope of services that wildlife rehabilitators provide.
We and our colleagues have heard some, uh, interesting accusations when we’ve informed folks about this limitation. Mostly, “You must not really care about animals.” A rehabilitator we know was even physically threatened after having to turn away a pet domestic pigeon— yikes! There are lots of reasons rehabilitators don’t take pets or livestock, and we promise that hating animals isn’t one of those reasons.
The main reason rehabilitators don’t accept pets or livestock is legal. It’s simply not in the scope of what we’re licensed to do or what our nonprofit charters include. When our supporters donate to help native wildlife, they expect and deserve for their funds to be used appropriately— not for them to be used to provide veterinary care for pets or livestock. If a wildlife rehabilitator practiced veterinary medicine without a license and misappropriated funds, that would (and should!) be grounds to lose their licensing and to have legal consequences.
There also just aren’t enough hours in the day for rehabilitators to save domestic animals while also caring for wildlife. Most of us operate with a full patient load throughout “baby season” and can’t make room or time for domestic animals. We’d love to save every animal on Earth, but that’s not a realistic goal, so we have to work within our own respective focuses.
The good news is that there are hundreds of thousands of rescues and shelters for domestic animals, and most counties and cities (including ours) also have municipal animal control facilities. These organizations do work just as important as ours and are equipped, licensed, and funded so they can help with situations involving domestic animals in distress. If you need help with a domestic animal, please contact a rescue in your area so the critter can get the assistance it needs. But, if you find a wild animal that needs help, we’ll be happy to assist!