Exploring Isabella Cat Clinic's wildlife rehabilitation efforts

“Every life matters.”

It’s The Isabella Cat Clinic’s motto. And it’s one that they put that into practice every day.

While pet owners may be familiar with the Mt. Pleasant facility for feline vaccinations, exams, and even grooming services, the clinic also works with Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources to rehabilitate wildlife of all kinds—something the general public may not be aware of.

The Isabella Feline Adoption & Wildlife Center is a non-profit organization founded over 20 years ago by the clinic’s owner, Dr. Catherine Lindstrand. The Center is housed at the Cat Clinic, and the clinic staff are all involved with the non-profit work as well.

“We all kind of play a role,” says Kellee Peters, practice manager and Cat Clinic veterinary technician. “We are completely donation based. And whatever we do is based off of fundraising and money that we are raising from basically the general public.”

Peters says that the wildlife they work with varies, from baby birds and rabbits, to fox kits and fawns. Most recently, they successfully rehabilitated and released an injured bald eagle.

Peters says that treating a wild animal is a bit more complicated than working with a client’s pet, and the process varies depending on the animal’s injury.
“Obviously, you would fix the fracture, splint it, cast it, or whatever you need to do. And then you have to worry about obviously rehabilitating them so that they are healthy enough to be released back out into their natural habitat. Which is physical therapy basically,” Peters says.

“A lot of times, rehabilitation (after the initial injury treatment) basically just looks like increasing the size of their enclosure; maybe making it a little bit harder for them to receive their food … things like that that would encourage them to reuse an injured limb or something along those lines,” she explains.

“We have to minimize the amount that we interact with them so that they stay wild because we don't want them to run up to people and be friendly after they're rehabilitated with us,” Peters adds.

Peters also explains that the process of caring for the animals and then releasing them back into the wild is bittersweet.

“It’s very humbling,” she says, “because things are so touch-and-go for a long time with most rehab cases, and you have moments where you think they're doing great; moments where you're worried that you're going to lose them. And then to watch them be able to be released and do so well—it’s pretty amazing.”

Peters says that if you find an injured animal, your first call should be to the DNR. She explains that the officers will contact the clinic, arrange for the animal to be transported, and ensure the safety of everyone involved. The clinic staff can then determine what kind of injuries the animal sustained and how it can be treated. Once that process is complete, the clinic works with the DNR to release the animal back to where it was found.

“I love the wildlife animals,” Peters concludes. “And I think that it's extremely rewarding to be involved in basically nurturing them back to health and then releasing them. I feel extremely lucky everyday. People often will say, ‘Oh, you work for a cat hospital, you will see a lot of cats.’ And I'm like, ‘We see a lot of everything!’ And we're pretty lucky to be able to say that we can do that.”

Learn more about The Isabella Feline Adoption & Wildlife Center and get updates on animals they are working with—along with clinic “alumni”—by visiting their website. You can also make a monetary donation or donate animal care supplies on their ‘wishlist’ webpage.
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