Silent Call of the Wildlife
by Juliette Jones, in collaboration with Kevin Barton
The Wildlife Center of Venice (WCV) is committed to the preservation, rescue and rehabilitation of wildlife in our local community. They service all of Sarasota and West Charlotte Counties, working consistently to uphold these values. In support of their tireless efforts, the WCV needs your assistance with their noble cause.
Years ago, I moved from Southeast Florida to Sarasota County to enjoy a more intimate relationship with nature and a lifestyle that was less fast-paced. Over the past decade, I have watched development rapidly eliminate much of the quiet beauty and mystery of nature that once drew me to this area. Moreover, this commercial development has been profoundly unhealthy to our wildlife population.
We are not separate from everything around us.
Authentic spiritual practice is connected with how deeply we know ourselves. How we relate to nature and her wild creatures speaks to the depth of our personal spiritual evolution. To be brief, the natural world emerges directly from the sacred void of the cosmos. Unfortunately, much of modern culture fails to realize our kinship with all of life, and has largely detached from identification with nature. This worldview has borne disastrous consequences, and is the source of unnecessary destruction and suffering
People with a heart for nature realize this but often feel helpless in the face of losses happening all around us. More animal species have become extinct on our watch than during any other time in recorded history. In the face of such enormous sadness, there is the danger of becoming apathetic.
But there are tangible and important strides we can make to overcome apathy such as supporting the quietly heroic people on the front-lines of animal welfare––people who are motivated by a desire to reduce suffering, save every life they can and make a difference on our planet. This is a heroic spiritual mission, and we need not look any further than the Wildlife Center of Venice to find a source of inspiration.
“The animals in our area are consistently impacted by sprawl and human
activity. Helping these displaced and injured Floridians is our goal.”
––Wildlife Center of Venice
The Wildlife Center of Venice was “born” on January 1, 2004. It was the long-time joint dream of founders Kevin Barton and Linda Schrader which soon became an official non-profit agency, possessing all state and federal permits to rehabilitate sick, injured and orphaned animals.
The heart of this center is presently located on five acres of land in west Venice. Several wildlife hutches, animal barns, squirrel habitats, a songbird aviary and a raccoon habitat comprise the main facility. A pond serves as a water-fowl rehabilitation area. The secluded location has been ideal for wildlife rehabilitation.
A year-and-a-half ago, the WCV launched a campaign to purchase the property where it was founded at a cost of $485,000 over a five-year period. Unfortunately, after raising $85,000, the property owner decided to renege on the purchase agreement. Now the center hopes to buy a property in the immediate vicinity which is geographically functional to serve our area. The real challenge is to make sure that our community’s imperiled wildlife does not suffer a break in service, either in rescue or professional care and rehabilitation.
This is not an easy prospect, considering the WCV patient load last year included nearly 4,400 sick, injured or orphaned animals. This breaks down into approximately 2,000 birds, 2,000 mammals and 400 reptiles. WCV is scouting out parcels of property between five and 20 acres, preferably near their current location, to support a new wildlife habitat.
Donations are needed now.
Not to be forgotten, the center is here for our community’s at-risk animals, and the WCV is currently navigating through the second half of the summer––otherwise known as “baby season.” They need donations, not just monetarily, but also supplies and volunteer hours.
Last week, the WCV received a call from Sarasota County Animal Services to rescue a young animal with a treble hook pierced through his nose and lip, and attached to a black plastic construction fence barrier. Kevin Barton and rescue partner Mark Martell cut the struggling animal free, eventually removed the hook and took him into rehabilitation. This happened to be a raccoon, but Barton tells me the same issue happens to birds on a regular basis. WCV was especially thankful to Sarasota County Animal Services and the resident caller who reported the incident, thus sparing the animal from what would have probably led to torturous death.
Many elements of care and service are necessary to a rescue and rehabilitation operation, and volunteers are essential to the success of such communities. Not everyone knows that volunteers who perform field rescue work are mandated to have preventative rabies vaccinations. There is a cost of nearly $900 for a series of three shots. Often the volunteers, who undergo treatment, pay for the cost of the shots from their own pockets. Sometimes volunteers come in the form of retired animal service officers, people with degrees in biology or those, who have been employed in foreign countries and have already taken these shots.
Love is a pale word for the level of service that is provided to our animal friends by the WCV team. Having witnessed some of what they accomplish daily, I am truly humbled.
“A man of kindness to the beast is kind.
But brutal actions show a brutal mind;
Remember, He who made the made the brute,
Who gave thee speech and reason made them mute;
He can’t complain, but God’s omniscient eye
Beholds thy cruelty––He hears their cry!
He was designed thy servant, not thy drudge,
But know––That his Creator is thy judge.”
The Wildlife Center of Venice, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) Florida non-profit corporation. The center is located at 3252 Border Rd., Venice. For more information, call 941-484-9657 (daytime), 941-416-4967 (after-hours), visit WildlifeCenterOfVenice.com or “like” The Wildlife Center of Venice on Facebook.