Polly Helton, director of Oldham County Animal Control, has been nursing animals back to health since she was a child. In 2011, she became a certified rescuer through the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Rehabilitation. Now, she often has 20 to 25 animals that she is caring for in her home at any given time. Polly shares with us how she got started and what a typical day of rescuing animals looks like.
Why rescue animals?
“When I was little, my dad would bring home little critters that needed help from his feed store. I would help nurse them back to health. I was good at it so I kept doing it when I got older.”
What types of animals are you rescuing?
“Raccoons are my favorite! We get a lot of opossum. I’ve even had snakes and turtles brought to me. I also bring home from work kittens and puppies that need to be bottle-fed.”
What kinds of injuries do you treat?
“A lot of the injuries I deal with are animals with broken bones, or wounds. Most times they’re just dehydrated or too young to care for themselves. If the injury is more than I can treat, I have a couple of vets who will help out at a reduced rate or free of charge. Most snakes I get are injured due to getting tangled up in garden fences (those plastic net type) or they just get really cold and need to be warmed up (hence, the reason they climb into peoples’ car engines). Releasing animals only pertains to wildlife. Puppies and kittens go back to the shelter to be adopted.
What does a typical day look like for you?
“I get up at about 6am and feed all the animals. I pack up any little ones that need to be fed throughout the day and bring them to the animal control facility where I work. I feed them on my breaks. I’ll go home on my lunch break and feed them again. When I get home at about 4pm, I re-feed all of the animals. Before I go to bed, I clean their cages and feed them again.”
What is the best part of what you do?
“It’s probably releasing them. It’s bittersweet. I’ve spent a few months with these little animals and we’ve gotten attached. I know that they survived because I helped them out. They’re going to be outside where they belong. They get to be real little animals.”
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