Wild Year in Review

In addition to cats and dogs, the Peninsula Humane Society takes in various sorts of wildlife.


I promised more information about the barn owl featured in this column a few weeks ago. She was picked up, almost totally unresponsive, by a resident on the Stanford campus, then rushed to our facility in Burlingame.

While it’s impossible – given our existing resources and the total number of animals who arrive needing care - to run all the panels and tests that could have given us a clearer picture of why this owl was hurting, we did our best by providing supportive care, a quiet space and some diagnostic testing.

And, it turns out our best was good enough. The owl is set to be released back on “The Farm” sometime this week, which is a pretty sweet spot for an owl. Another success story.

Last year, we did this more than 1,000 times! During the 2012 calendar year, the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA (PHS/SPCA) rehabilitated and later released 1,048 local wildlife that arrived sick, injured or orphaned. This represents an increase of 236 lives saved over 2011; a statistic made even more meaningful considering fewer animals arrived in 2012 than in 2011.

Animals arrive by way of Good Samaritans who bring them to our center or by our animal control officers who respond to calls for assistance from the community.  Our patients include songbirds, hummingbirds, raptors (owls, hawks), pelicans, raccoons and squirrels.

Of course, not all the animals can be saved. Some arrive so badly injured that euthanasia is the only option, but we let folks know that their efforts were still important since they prevented further suffering.

PHS/SPCA is one of just a handful of humane societies or SPCAs, nationwide, that accepts and provides care for wildlife.  This vital work, funded by donations, takes place in state-of-the art facilities on the second floor and rooftop of PHS/SPCA’s Center for Compassion on Rollins Road in Burlingame. PHS/SPCA accepts wildlife from San Francisco through northern Santa Clara County.

At peak times, PHS/SPCA cares for 200+ wild animals. This is in addition to some 200 dogs, cats and other domestic animals available for adoption at the Center for Compassion, and anywhere from 200 to 600 stray domestic animals being held and cared for at the Coyote Point shelter, located at 12 Airport Blvd. in San Mateo.

Before opening the Center for Compassion in Burlingame – actually, for the past four decades – PHS/SPCA staff accepted and rehabilitated wildlife in facilities at the Coyote Point shelter. The rehabilitation facilities weren’t ideal and we did this work on a shoestring budget in the early years. The shoestring, in this case, snapped and was tied together at least a few times over the years.

Now, our specially trained staff members and the few dozen volunteers who support their work making wild animals better as quickly as possible with minimal human contact so as not to imprint on them, have a facility that matches the expertise, care and compassion we’ve had for decades.  

Numbers and stats tell only part of the story, but these year-end wildlife rehabilitation numbers are important ones for us. The numbers are another clear indication of what our new Center has meant to the animals and this community.


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