February 17, 2012 > OHS Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, a success story
OHS Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, a success story
By Pat Kite
When the Fremont Animal Control Center in Newark moved to their new location at Central Park in Fremont, the old building was boarded up and left unused. The old animal shelter, on Hickory in Newark, remained dismal and shuttered. However, at the same time, Fremont residents Pat Lane and Connie Nelson were taking over 1000 wildlife birds/animals a year into their homes, trying to save as many as they could. "We were soon overwhelmed," Connie recalls, "and started looking for a site." The Ohlone Humane Society [OHS] offered to take them in as part of their organization. After much searching, Pat and Connie located the vacant Hickory Street shelter property.
The rest should have been easy. It wasn't. The land is owned by San Francisco Water District. "We approached them for permission to use the building," Connie states. "We were immediately told 'no.'" Connie and Pat then went to the East Bay Park District [EBRPD] asking if they had a potential site for a wildlife rescue center. They asked what happened with the San Francisco Water District. As luck would have it, EBRPD has a good working relationship with the Water District and was able to get a reasonably- priced lease on OHS behalf. "So we now had a building," Connie says, "unfortunately it was a building with no water."
Long story short, to get water into the hopeful shelter, OHS would have to construct a pipeline for almost a mile. Not possible. Onward... a growing contingent of Volunteers and Worldpac, Inc., a kind neighboring company who allowed them to tap into their water line, came to the rescue. One nearby trench completed, "and we were in business."
Of course the grimy dank abandoned shelter was just that. So, then came renovation and repairs. "Rose, the manager of Sulphur Creek Nature Center, and her husband came down to help. We tore down concrete pillars and had to build aviaries and set up caging," Connie says. "By some miracle, and with the help of many volunteers, our building came together." It opened in April 1999.
Pat Lane and Connie Nelson managed the OHS Wildlife Rehabilitation Center for several years, but it was obvious the Center need a full-time paid center Manager. They looked toward David Anderson, Registered Veterinary Technician [RVT] at All About Pets in Union City. "It was obvious that David had a huge heart for wildlife," Connie says. In 2004 he started part-time and in 2006 full time.
Born in Eugene, Oregon, David's family came to the Bay Area when he was age 2. His brother, sisters and mother often went to Garin and Dry Creek Regional Parks. David states that he has always loved animals. "I'd take home any sick or injured animal," and try to make it better. After graduating from Western Career College, he worked as a Veterinary Technician for 12 years. "At one time I used to work at a local pet store," he says, "But I don't like the pet trade. Some animals are not meant to be pets. When you get these things, you contribute to the exotic pet market and deplete the environment."
Doing what he could, David says he would buy injured reptiles from the pet store, and take them home. "I used to have wall-to-wall pets, including birds and a lot of reptiles." Following the pet store employment, he went to work for Dr. Freeman at All About Pets in Union City, which handles emergency OHS care. Then the OHS Wildlife Rehabilitation Center position opened. In 2011 alone, the Center took in 678 birds and other animals. "I'm always here," David says. "I'm here more than full time."
"The best thing I ever did," Connie recalls, was pass the baton to David. He has the medical background and is so much better than I was at working with the volunteers and managing all aspects of the Center. The Center has improved and is thriving under his watchful eye."
OHS Wildlife Rehabilitation Center is entirely funded by donations and bequests. We cannot save all wild animals; some are too injured or sick when they arrive. But we have saved 55 percent of those taken in, which is a wonderful thing in this sometimes-difficult world. Many thanks to all who continue to help from the kindness of their hearts.
For more information, or to volunteer [baby bird season is coming up in the spring; they may have to be fed hourly, or every ? hour]... contact.
Ohlone Humane Society Wildlife Rehabilitation Center
37175 Hickory Street
Newark, CA 94560
Angela Hartman, fantastic volunteer coordinator