Abandoned chicks being fed

By: Michelle Poirier

Work is underway at Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge in Pefferlaw to expand the critical care unit and indoor pens.

But, while construction started three weeks ago, donations are still needed to help pay for the renovations.

“The walls are just going up now, but we have got all the plumbing, the electrical, the roofing and everything else that you have to do left,” Gail Lenters, founder and board president of Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge, said.

She said she is hoping to have all the work done before the snow arrives.

“Our adult care barn is being retrofitted to accommodate a secluded room for ICU care patients,” she said.

“Right now, our incubators for the adults are in our adult building, but they do not really have a place, so they are in the middle of isles, and it is not optimal quiet space for these guys. It will have incubators, IV drips, workspace to do bandage changes and that sort of thing, but the key is it is going to be a quiet recovery space.”

Injured fox receives emergency care

The new space will include a lab for blood work and fecal analysis. They will also be extending their indoor pens to the outside to allow safe outdoor exercise areas for the injured animals.

Shades of Hope needs to expand because they have been busier this year than any year before, Ms. Lenters said. In previous years, they had never even reached 5,000 animal patients, but are on track to receive 6,000 patients in 2020.

She said she believes this is due to COVID-19.

“Other rehabs closed, they are not taking in animals, so we’ve been receiving animals from as far as Sudbury, Hamilton and St. Catharines; it is phenomenal how people will drive to save lives. People are at home, they are out walking trails and finding things, and they are just more aware of what is around them, so they are finding more,” she said.

She said she appreciates the people who have brought animals in and says it is encouraging to see families making sure that wildlife has a second chance.

They have raised 26 per cent of the expansions’ costs through donations given by residents of Georgina and people outside of Georgina.

“I have actually brought several injured animals to Shades of Hope. Gail, Cathy and all the volunteers are amazing,” Erika Squires, resident of Toronto and a monthly donor to Shades of Hope, said.

“They do such great work and have huge hearts. They don’t get any government funding, so along with donating to them when I drop an animal off, I started being a monthly donor. I am a wildlife photographer and have given them 10 per cent of my show sales as well,” she said.

Ms. Lenters said this year has been challenging because, with the increase of animals coming in, the staff and volunteers are exhausted. But are continuing to work because they believe they are making a difference.

“I decided in the spring; we will not close because of COVID-19, we cannot, somebody has to be available for these animals. So, we have made it work,” she said.

To date, they have raised $15,450.00 of their $60,000.00 goal on their CanadaHelps donation page.

The fundraiser ends on November 30. “Every penny helps, we appreciate the support,” Ms. Lenters said.

You can donate at https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/shades-of-hope-wildlife-refuge/.

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