A cry for help: wildlife rehabilitation
What does it take to work regular hours as a veterinary doctor and then to add the task of treating 21 ducks, eight robins, five blackbirds, eight raccoons, a great-horned owl and a white-tail deer just 10 days old, two snowy owls, two squirrels, a golden eagle, a hawk, a magpie and a morning dove? It means the day begins at 6 a.m. and it doesn’t finish until close to midnight. What kind of person does it take to look after 50 injuries at one time? The commitment comes with a keen awareness that creatures have conscious experiences. Like humans, they know joy and sorrow, pain and suffering, and with the fretful confusion of a painful injury, they yearn for relief and a return to what they have always known. There is every indication that Dr. Melanie Blager is deeply in touch with wildlife experiences. Even as a child, she found herself rescuing creatures in trouble. “I’ve been saving them all my life, even when I was a kid.” Blager came to Moose Jaw with her husband Roger in 2000. Sometime later, she accepted a position at the Moose Jaw Animal Clinic at 1885 Caribou St. W. It was there she was re-engaged by the work of wildlife rehabilitation. “People would bring young birds they had found on the ground, and there was no one to help them.” Blager is one of the few people in the province who treats birds of prey. Over time, she has expanded the types of wildlife under her care. “Every year since 2000, the numbers have doubled, and now I work at rehabilitating over 200 annually. The major goal is to return the injured and orphaned to their natural environment.”
When Blager speaks about her efforts, the “affect” is evident. Her concern for the injured is inscribed on her face and embedded in words. “It is heartbreaking to work with an animal for weeks and weeks, and to have something go wrong. I reconstruct a wing, and then one day, it falls apart. The reward is with the ones you can save. There is great satisfaction to setting them free, knowing they can go back to doing what they were meant to do in the wild.” Blager has earned a rehabilitation permit from the province and she is a member of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Saskatchewan (WRSOS). She has established “Wild and Cared Free Rehabilitation Inc.” in Moose Jaw. The WRSOS hotline for animals in distress is 306-242-7177. Laura Williams and her husband Pat Leibel own Carousel Acres. Recently they held a fundraiser for Blager on their property. Williams explained why. “I have known Melanie for a long time and I know how much she cares for animals. I also know from my own experience that veterinary care is expensive. Melanie offers the expertise, but she carries the associated costs. We hosted this fundraiser to provide her with much needed support.” Roger Blager reports that the event was a success. “In spite of the rain and mud, there was a good turnout, everybody had fun and we raised more than $2,000.” There are all kinds of ways to support Wild and Cared Free. Volunteers are needed to capture and transport injured and orphaned wildlife, to feed, clean, treat and prepare food, to collect donations of bedding and animal cages and to help out in fundraisers for building supplies and feeding costs.
Dr. Melanie Blager and eagle named Thora
Laura Williams and Pat Leibel at Carousel Acres