“As soon as you walk into the Volunteers for Wildlife hospital and education center, mammals are being fed on your left while birds on your right are examined to see how much they have healed since being brought into the hospital.
No matter which season it is or the time of the day, the phone is ringing off the hook at Volunteers for Wildlife for another native Long Island animal to be rescued.
Volunteers for Wildlife, Inc. founded in 1982 was the first wildlife hospital on Long Island. Co-founders Sallie Rupert, Joyce DeGeorge, and Marilyn Forman first began caring for injured and orphaned wildlife out of Sallie’s garage. The operations quickly expanded and they established a professional wildlife hospital and education center.
‘The animals we take care of range from mammals to birds to reptiles,’ said supervisor, Lauren Schulz. ‘These animals need care every single day of the year including holidays and including a pandemic.’
Since the coronavirus pandemic, the hospital has been busier than ever running on a skeleton staff carrying out contactless animal rescues for whomever they pick up from.
Now that Long Island is currently in Phase 4, they have brought most of their staff back to assist with the abundance of animals in the hospital. Since more people are at home, they have received more calls than any other year from people seeing animals in distress needing help.
‘Working through the pandemic has been difficult and challenging but some of the most rewarding work I’ve ever done,’ said education coordinator, Cristen Sagevick. ‘More people than ever are bringing in more and more animals. More people are seeing orphaned and injured wildlife and despite it being a challenge, we are releasing more animals than we ever had back into the wild very successfully.’
The ultimate goal is to have animals brought into the hospital to regain their strength and eventually be released back into their natural habitat as soon as possible.”