Do you ever wonder what it would be like to take care of sick animals at your own home?
My neighbor George is an animal rehabilitator. Animal rehabilitators help sick or injured animals and try to get them back to the wild if possible.
Sometimes they help interesting animals. George told me, “Foxes are the most interesting animals I ever took care of, but the most regal are the geese and ducks.” After I interviewed him he showed me a flying squirrel, a nocturnal animal that people usually don’t get to see.
He started working with animals in 1984. His grandfather lived by the Mohawk River and had chickens, ducks, geese and bees. I asked him if he was sad when he puts the animals back to the wild and he said “No I’m happy because that’s the goal of what I do.”
You don’t get paid to be an animal rehabilitator as state law forbids it. You need a special license to be one and you need to know a lot about many species of animals native to New York state.
To take care of migratory birds — birds that can fly from state to state — you need a federal license. There’s an additional license that is required to help animals that could carry rabies such as bats or raccoons. George has all these licenses.
Sometimes being an animal rehabilitator can be dangerous. George once got bit by a woodchuck. He was getting the woodchuck out of its cage and it bit onto George’s hand and it wouldn’t let go! So he had to have his wife get it off his hand. The woodchuck bit right through his hand and he had to get stitches.
Being an animal rehabilitator can be a fun, and sometimes dangerous job!
Skye Zagorski is a fourth-grader at Okte Elementary School