Sick raccoon in Vaughn underscores need for local rehab funding

It should never be a hardship to find someone willing to help a sick or injured animal. But across the country, wildlife-loving residents have difficulty locating the appropriate service locally – and that was underscored this week in Vaughn, Ontario.

The Thornhill Liberal spoke with homeowner Lisa Nackan this week, who came home to find a clearly ill raccoon laying in her driveway. But after making an estimated 20 phone calls, she found no one able to help alleviate the suffering of the raccoon.

“Nobody knew anything,” Nackan told The Liberal. “Everyone contradicted everyone else.”

And though the Toronto Wildlife Centre (TWC) – one of the largest rehabilitators in southern Ontario – is not far from Thornhill, they cannot be everything to everyone.

“We can’t be the ones doing animal control. We are a charity in another city,” Nathalie Karvonen, executive director of the TWC, told The Liberal. “It is a source of frustration for us. We are run entirely on donations.”

Vaughn is of particular difficulty, as the TWC notes the city does not have an animal response program akin to that of other municipalities. But the problem of whom to call for a responsible reaction to sick or injured wildlife is not unique.

Across the country, wildlife rehabilitators act as the primary responders to such calls, despite receiving no funding from provincial overseers or municipalities who rely on their good will.

It’s time that all three levels of government recognized the literal life-saving work happening in our communities and provide the funding and tax breaks our wildlife rehabilitators deserve.

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