“We had no choice” but to close says animal rescue head

Peggy Jenkins with Oil Springs Ollie during Groundhog Day celebrations at Brigden Public School in 2017. File Photo

Heaven’s Wildlife Rescue hopes to reopen in fall

For the past six years, Oil Springs resident Peggy Jenkins has been taking in every small wild animal brought to the doors of Heaven’s Wildlife Rescue.
But today, the doors are closed and people with injured racoons or rabbits who call the rescue’s number are told to call the Ministry of Natural Resources.
“There was no choice,” Jenkins told The Independent. “We had no choice.
“The interns (who helped care for the animals) were leaving, there were no local volunteers and there was no money coming in.”
Jenkins started the rescue in 2011. The first year, she put up most of the cash for the haven for wildlife herself and estimates she invested about $45,000.
She began fundraising and had a number of successful events, however she says it is difficult to fund raise and provide 24 hour a day care.
“It is very hard to do fundraising when your trying to take care of all the animals.”
And there were a lot of animals – 300 this year alone. Jenkins estimates each animal takes over $300 to care for until they can be released. That means she needs about $100,000 a year to provide the service.
Jenkins says money was a problem from the moment the rescue opened. There is no government funding for this type of work. And while the wildlife rescue is staffed soley by volunteers, there are still major costs such as hydro, water, formula for the newborns brought in and vaccines. Jenkins says the cost to vaccinate a racoon alone is $60.
So, Jenkins started asking people bringing in the foundlings to provide some sort of donation. She estimates only 12 per cent of the people did.
Last week, Jenkins took a hard look at the bottom line and decided there was no choice but to shut the doors temporarily.
Jenkins says while the rescue is closed, she’s hoping to rebuild the organization, recruiting a number of people whose sole job will be fundraising. Jenkins is also hoping to find a number of people who will become monthly donors. “It doesn’t have to be that much, but we just need some donors to help.”
And she says they could always use more volunteers to care for the animals.
Jenkins is hopeful Heaven’s Wildlife Rescue can open its doors in the fall again, but that will depend on the success of the annual walk-a-thon scheduled for Sept. 16th at Canatara Park in Sarnia.
Jenkins says the money raised at that time will hopefully give the rescue enough cash to get through the busy fall season of releasing the young animals they’ve raised through the spring.