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Abandoned Pets in the Wild


While Volunteers for Wildlife does not rehabilitate domestic animals, occasionally we come across pets that have been abandoned and forced to fend for themselves. Domestic animals and pet exotics are not equipped to survive in the wild. They depend on their human owners for food and often, companionship. “Releasing” a pet such as a rabbit, domestic duck or turtle is a death sentence to these animals!


This past winter, Volunteers for Wildlife received a call regarding a turtle in a backyard. The turtle was in such bad condition it was almost un-identifiable. He was cold, underweight with nails overgrown, and his carapace was worn and dull. With months of treatment, he has started shedding some scutes, gaining weight from munching on lots of smelt (everything but the heads!) and starting to look like a red-eared slider again. Red-eared sliders are not native to New York State. In fact, they are considered an invasive species in some states from so many people releasing pets, and can threaten local wildlife. For these reasons, we are looking to place our red-eared friend into a loving and forever home! Please share his story of recovery and help us find this friendly guy a family he can call his own.


Domesticated animals often don’t know how to interact with other members of their species and other animals in general. For example, on February 2nd, a Pekin duck was admitted after being attacked by other ducks at a pond. The donor brought the duck to VMCLI, and he was then picked up by Volunteers for Wildlife. As stated, while we do not typically take in domestic animals due to the needs of our wildlife patients, but we had a home lined up for this duck and admitted him. The duck had a severe limp, bumblefoot in both feet and was not fully waterproof. After a few days of pain meds and rest, our duck was fully standing and walking! After two weeks of care, our Peking duck was water-proof and ready for his new home. Domestic ducks are not equipped with the skills to survive in the wild like Mallards, for example. This pekin duck was lucky someone rescued him before he got severely injured and is happy in its new home among other domestic ducks!

To avoid situations such as those above, you can take several steps when choosing a pet. It is very important to do your research, keeping several factors in mind:

  • Size

  • Palm sized turtles will not stay that size!

  • Life Expectancy

  • Be ready to commit to your pet for its entire life. For example, rabbits that are well cared for can live up to 10 years!

  • Housing

  • As an animal grows, its housing requirements will change!

  • Housing additionally needs to be SECURE to avoid potential escapes!

  • Pet-Care

  • If you are away, have an idea of someone who can care for your pets in your absence.

  • Finances

  • before you commit to any pet, make sure you are financially able to take care of them and any emergenices that may come up

If for some reason you can no longer care for your exotic pet, DO NOT RELEASE IT! While pets are difficult for VFW to place and care for due to the need of our wildlife patients, we can direct you to organizations that may be able to help.

#domestics #pets #wildlife

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194-A Bayville Road Locust Valley, NY 11560

(516) 674-0982

info@volunteersforwildlife.org

Volunteers for Wildlife, Inc. is a tax exempt 501(c)3 not-for-profit charitable organization. Copies of our annual audited financial statements as well as annual IRS 990 and NY State CHAR500 reports can be accessed on the NYS Attorney General's Charity website http://www.charitiesnys.com.

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