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Review for Wild Bird Fund Inc, New York, NY, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

As a wildlife rehabilitator and a volunteer with the WBF, I would like to respond to the two posts from January 21 and January 22, 2013, respectively.

I was present when the sick bird with lead poisoning was brought to the center at closing and remember the case quite well. Sadly, the patient died. Sadly, the patient had lead poisoning. But it did not die from lack of care.

The pigeon presented with severe neurological symptoms as well as dehydration and was not in stable condition. The first step in treating any sick or injured animal is to stabilize the patient with supportive care: first you give fluids to correct life-threatening dehydration, then, if emaciated and starving, you administer basic, easy to digest, enteral foods. Then, and only when the bird is hydrated and stable, can you treat an illness like lead poisoning.

The next morning the bird was re-evaluated and determined to be stable enough for blood work. After a high lead level in the blood was identified, we started treatment with DMSA (dimercaptosuccinic acid). This is an agent that chemically binds to the lead so it can be flushed out of the system. However, the treatment is very rough on the patient’s body, particularly the kidneys. Such treatment can only be started when a bird is hydrated because the poisons have to be flushed from the system. Otherwise the very medicine that could save the patient will kill it.
Being a Good Samaritan for a sick animal is a noble calling. We are grateful that people like you exist in this city. We know all too well the trials and tribulations that patients and their caregivers go through before finding us and getting help. Sadly all too often, too much time has passed before a patient can get to us and then there is little we can do to turn the corner on a rapidly deteriorating case.

Regarding the other patient case mentioned on this site: to perform euthanasia, two people are required to sign off on a medical chart before that decision is made. It is never an easy, or lightly made decision. At least one person involved in the euthanasia must be a state or federally licensed rehabilitator.

If a patient displays symptoms consistent with Paramyxovirus (PMV), we take the case very, very seriously. We warn the rescuer of the possibility that the bird may never recover enough to go back to the wild. And then we go above and beyond, testing for lead and treating with antibiotics to cover the alternate possibilities of lead poisoning or meningitis. A viral disease like PMV is contagious, often deadly, and is associated with a very poor quality of life. So euthanasia is often the only humane alternative. I had a bird I was fostering die of PMV in my hands; it was a slow and wretchedly painful death. I was too hopeful for a recovery to consider a humane means for ending her suffering; I kept thinking she would pull through. To this day I regret that decision.

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Role:  Volunteer