By Monica Pryts/Staff Writer
A last-minute plea for help has saved Skye's Spirit Wildlife Rehabilitation Center from having to turn away animals in need.
"We are still open and accepting animals at this time. I put out an email to our email list and had a nice response to help us keep open for now," Maryjane Angelo, director of the Harrisville area nonprofit, said by email Monday evening after taking care of an injured hawk.
Skye's, which opened in 1998 and cares for and releases wildlife indigenous to Pennsylvania, has been receiving up to 50 calls a day for hurt, sick or orphaned animals, but fewer monetary donations.
"Many times we can educate the finder that the animal isn't an orphan and needs to be left alone; however, many need to come in for care. We have not gone a day since the end of March without having intakes of wildlife," she said.
Angelo was worried she'd have to stop taking in wildlife Monday because the center, open seven days a week, couldn't keep up with costs like the $3,000 monthly food budget.
"Medical, operating costs and building repairs/construction of new enclosures add to that," she said of the 15-acre property at 889 Farren Surrena Road.
The response from her email request along with people spreading the word, including a letter to the editor written by Linda and David Short, Harmony, that appeared in Allied News July 4, produced enough donations for Skye's to continue operations, for now.
"Currently we have 138 animals in our care including hawks, owls, falcons, fawns, geese, ducks, songbirds, opossums, weasels, cottontails, turtles and snakes," Angelo said.
To give some examples of what she, her husband Robert and four volunteers are handling, she said the cottontails were hurt by a garden tiller or lawnmower, burned in a brush pile fire or attacked by cats; the hawks and owls have been hit by cars; and some fawns were being kept illegally by the public.
Only one in 10 people donate to Skye's when they bring in an animal and costs quickly add up because the center relies on donations only; it doesn't receive federal or state funds, Angelo said.
Monetary contributions are always needed to help buy food for the wild animals' special diets, which "ensure optimum health so they can be released back into the wild for a second chance."
"Even the smallest amount monthly makes a huge difference if we can find lots of people to sign up," Angelo said. "We ask people to challenge their friends, neighbors and co-workers to match or exceed their pledge."
Skye's also needs more volunteers, but things are too busy right now to train anyone new, she said, adding the center is accepting applications and will contact potential candidates when things slow down a little.
"We would love the public to know that there is a place to take injured and orphaned wildlife to get help and that we couldn't keep doing this without their wonderful help," she said.
There are 29 centers throughout the state that belong to the Pennsylvania Wildlife Rehabilitators Association.
Linda Short was happy to hear Skye's didn't have to close its doors to wildlife like the rabbit she and her husband rescued after it was hit by a car.
"That's wonderful," she said of the donations that came in, adding she also emailed her friends and family about Skye's situation.
The Shorts knew Skye's could help the rabbit and they also donated when they brought the animal in June 19, but were shocked to learn so few people do the same.
"The rest of us kind of have to step up for those who can't afford it," said Short, who's also a board member for the Butler County Humane Society.
She was also happy to hear the rabbit is recovering and is expected to be released back into the wild soon.
For more information about Skye's Spirit Wildlife Center, to make a donation - monetary or items on their wish list, or ask about dropping off an animal, call 814-786-9677, visit www.skyes-spirit.com or find them on Facebook.
Donations can also be mailed to: Skye's Spirit Wildlife, 889 Farren Surrena Road, Harrisville, PA 16038.
Published July 11, 2012, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.