Given my general antipathy toward sport hunting, it’s ironic that my animal helping supply list looks a lot like a sportsman’s: Waders? Check. Covert knife? Check. Shrimp net? Check. Nail scissors?
(We all know there’s a lot of mani-pedi going on in those duck blinds, don’t kid yourselves.)
Animal Rescue and the Prime Directive
This supply overlap is actually testament to an object’s inherent neutrality. A knife can be used to kill or to set free — a net to capture or to rescue. We humans can be predatory, symbiotic, benign or some combination.**
The fact is, whether you believe we’re inseparable from the cycles of the wild, or detached in that Victorian “we’re so not animals” way, we’re engaged with the non-human world both deliberately and inadvertently. So … the whole point of this post, in case you were wondering, is that when human actions cause injury (deliberately or inadvertently) … and we find those animals along our roads and travels . . . Hugh and I have some gear on hand to help.
The Animal Rescue Gear
Our “gear” began with a collapsible pet carrier and some work gloves. At that point, we could still transport a few pieces of luggage and one niece or nephew in the backseat. Years later, in the same two-door Civic, we can barely get a turnip in the trunk.
Here’s a basic list of supplies we have on hand for animal emergencies. Full-time rescuers have larger stashes, including task-specific tools.
** Note: We’re licensed in the State of California to work with and transport wildlife. If you’re not, find out where your local wildlife facility or rehabber is located, in case you encounter an animal emergency. If you’re interested in becoming a wildlife volunteer, you can check with these same facilities for their volunteer training programs.
Our supplies aren’t wildlife specific, though. Whenever we’re on a beach, for instance, it seems we encounter balls of fishing filament that need cutting and unraveling. So, for general aid and assistance, this is a bare-bones facsimile of what we have in our trunk.
- Paper grocery bag: The simplest, most versatile tool. For transport of birds that can’t break through the bag. Paper bags breathe and when clipped at the top with a clothespin, provide a convenient-to-carry rescue tool. (If possible, put a washcloth or towel at the bottom of the bag for the animal’s comfort.)
- Cardboard pet carrier:Temporary shelter/transport for smaller animals.
- Multi-tool, fence tool and knife: We never know when we’ll have to cut barbed wire, twine, fishing line or any number of entanglements.
- Nail scissors: For gently cutting away tangled twine. (New York City Pigeon Rescue has an in-depth explanation of pigeon feet and string entanglements.)
- Latex or Nitrile gloves: Latex is, ultimately, biodegradable — so it’s environmentally preferable. But it’s also a source of allergies and sensitization for some. In addition to protecting hands, gloves can be filled with warm water and tied like a balloon — as a makeshift heating pad, under a towel.
- Thick work gloves and/or Kevlar gloves: For handling. If you’re not licensed to work with wild animals, call a wildlife expert. And definitely don’t handle rabies-vector species (raccoon, fox, skunk, bats, etc.) unless you are qualified to do so.
- Work boots: For navigating terrain.
- Trash bags: I use biodegradable bags, but any bag for miscellaneous waste.
- Towels and blankets: For warmth, for lining pet carriers, for help in capturing an injured animal
- Hydrogen peroxide: All-purpose disinfectant.
- Nolvasan: Medical disinfectant
- Human first aid kit: for obvious reasons
- Vet wrap and bandages: For animal or human bleeding/injury
- Car seat warmer or car-adapted heating pad: Use under carrier or towels to keep baby animals warm.
- Helmet, goggles, face protection/masks: Most people won’t need this but we keep them on hand, just in case. Aquatic birds like Cormorants are adept at using their bills as defensive weapons.
- List of local wildlife and animal hospitals — for advice, a place to transport, for general wildlife help
If you’re a rehabber and rescuer, and have anything to add, feel free post it in the comments.