San Rafael Volunteers Feed Orphaned Harvey Squirrels

Bay Area volunteers step in as Houston volunteers tend to their own hurricane troubles.

A WildCare volunteer feeds a squirrel orphaned by Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas. (Photo courtesy of WildCare)

San Rafael-based animal lovers spent the week nursing wild Houston animals back to health after Hurricane Harvey.

Three volunteers from urban wildlife rescue group WildCare quickly flew to Houston on Sunday in partnership with the Humane Society of the United States, with the help of donated mileage points and hotel rooms. The trio worked in shifts to help dozens of squirrels, turtles, opossums and even a baby alligator who’d been affected by the storms.

Usual volunteers with the Texas Wildlife Rehab Coalition in Houston were unavailable to tend to the center’s hundreds of animals as they dealt with their own troubles stemming from the hurricane, said WildCare spokesperson Alison Hermance.

“No one really thinks about the effect on wildlife in a catastrophe like this,” Hermance said.

One of the volunteers, Nat Smith, used his WildCare experience to offer consultation on the frightened-looking hawk that went viral after taking shelter in a Houston cab. The hawk is now at an outdoor cage to regain flying ability, Hermance said.

Hermance added that volunteers from Florida also joined the effort, though they had to leave early to prepare for Hurricane Irma. WildCare volunteers returned home Thursday and remain on hold as they determine where help is needed after Irma passes.

“In a small but real way, we are helping the wildlife of Texas in the wake of this disastrous storm,” said WildCare Board President Susanne Lyons, who volunteered in Houston, in a press release. “The recovery from the flooding for humans and wildlife will be a long process, but for the wildlife in our care, there will be a second chance at life.”

To help the local animal rescue team on the ground in Houston, visit


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