Most pet lovers are animal lovers in general, so it goes without saying to encounter a wild animal such as a rabbit or coyote can be pretty exciting. Unfortunately, there are numerous cases when good-hearted Samaritans intervened in what they thought was a situation of abandonment, only to do more harm than good.
There are a number of things to be aware of should you encounter a wild animal – especially when you’re with your pet.
That’s why we’re here to answer some of your urban wildlife questions, including what to do if an animal is sick or injured.
The Best Approach is to Not Approach
Whether you stumble upon a young animal or happen to spot an adult on your walking route, give the animal his or her space. If it’s safe to do so, try and assess the situation from a distance, but avoid direct contact.
If you believe the animal is behaving strangely or seems injured, call animal control for assistance. They have the equipment necessary for relocation or medical care without risking injury. Because animals such as coyotes, skunks, and foxes carry zoonotic diseases like rabies, always keep a safe distance.
When an Animal Appears Sick or Injured
When an animal is in danger, the urge to act on his or her behalf is understandable. Injured animals, however, are often scared and can behave aggressively if approached, so use the opportunity to get assistance while remaining cautious.
If you find an injured or sick adult mammal, bird, snake, or other species, observe as much information as you can, such as location and species. These details will be important when you call for backup.
Some useful contacts in the San Antonio area include:
- Texas Parks and Wildlife: Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitators
- Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation (830) 336-2725
- Last Chance Forever: The Birds of Prey Conservancy (injured raptors)
Phoning the City of San Antonio, Animal Control can also be helpful in getting redirected to the right wildlife rehabilitator.
If you happen to find a young or baby wild animal, you will most likely be instructed to leave him or her alone. Oftentimes, babies are left while their mothers go off to hunt, etc. They will return, unless they sense someone has moved or handled the offspring. When in doubt, stay back and phone an expert for instructions.
In some cases, an animal is truly orphaned, but you will often be told to allow for two or more hours to pass before assuming the offspring is in need of help. Many times, the parent or parents are nearby and will be reluctant to return if they sense your presence.
When You Encounter a Wild Animal With Your Pet
Finally, it’s not uncommon for a pet to be the first to spot wildlife. For your pet’s protection (as well as yours and the wild animal’s), practice the following wildlife safety tips:
- Keep your pet leashed and near your side.
- Do not allow your dog to chase, bark at, or approach the animal.
- Move to safety, giving the animal a wild berth, then phone one of the resources listed above.
It’s also worth mentioning that your pet’s greatest defense is being vaccinated. Ensure your pet is up-to-date on all recommended vaccines by phoning your friends at Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital.