I moved to San Diego and joined the Wildlife Center (WLC) in 1992. I was always involved in the direct care of animals. I was the Health Officer. I enforced our rabies immunization program. Our goal was safe care for both the volunteers and animals. I was a Member for the Board of Directors. I also participated in the Wildlife Center’s educational programs.
In 2000 Diana Sieberns, our acting president, was in the process of moving to Arizona. I contacted Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and talked to the Warden in charge. I informed him that the WLC was temporarily halting our rehabilitation program, while we went thorough a re-organization. I asked him what I needed to do to continue caring for my permanently crippled birds. The birds that worked so may years as foster parents and educational animals. I was told I did not have to do anything, since they had just implemented an Amnesty program. Unknown to me, the amnesty program only lasted a year.
In the morning of September 13, 2004, Warden Awbrey came to my house. He was acting on a tip from Damian Mitchel, a Vet Tech that worked with Dr. Bausone at Acacia Animal Health Center. [Cotie, our family dog, a coyote hybrid, was taken to Acacia on an emergency basis after having a seizure.] Warden Awbrey impounded the birds and Cotie. I desperately tried to inform him that Cotie was ill and the birds were old and frail, but he would not listen. Cotie has a seizure disorder and required medications twice a day. I was told I would not get my animals back until I got a Restricted Species Permit.
After I reviewed the “Restricted Species Laws and Regulations” (RSLR)-Manual 671”, I knew I qualified for a Restricted Species Permit (RSP). Though, according to the RSLR Coydogs/Coyote hybrids do not require any permit. They are considered domestic dogs. I applied for the RSP, but was denied because I was being investigated for criminal prosecution for not having RSP. Though the charges were dropped by the City Attorney, my animals were not returned. I reapplied for the RSP, and again was denied. I provided proof of my qualifications including letters from teachers that attended my educational programs, veterinarians that cared for the animals and Fellow rehabilitators attesting to my qualifications and participation in Wildlife Rehabilitation for the WLC.
Cotie’s health was deteriorating. We were afraid that he would die. I tried desperately to get permission from the DFG to have Dr. Polishuk, Cotie’s primary care doctor, go to the impound facility to evaluate and treat Cotie. Our requests were denied. My beloved dog, our cherished family member died a horrible death while in impound on 1-30-05. His necropsy found that Cotie was covered with fleas and feces. He died of multi-organ failure from months of neglect.
I went to court and was granted a stay of euthanasia, but the birds continued to die. Three Ravons, 1 Crow, 2 Kestrels, 7 Gulls and a Cooper Hawk died while in impound. On 9-22-09, after the court ordered stay of euthanasia was deliberately violated, the Honorable Judge Hayes ordered the birds returned to my custody pending the outcome of the litigation. When I got the birds back, three were gravely ill. [Dommy, my red tailed hawk, had osteomylitis of his wing; Edger, my crow, had cellulitis from a battered wing; Jennifer, my gull had severe thrush from malnutrition and was so ill that she could not stand up]. Dr. Jenkins, the bird’s veterinarian saw the birds the next day. All three birds required antibiotics. My Red Tailed Hawk, Dommy, required a long course of antibiotics and needed to have part of his wing amputated, since the bone infection had gone on too long and could not be treated with antibiotics alone.
From the beginning, I made it clear that I would do anything DFG wants to get my RSP, but they refuse to work with me. They have only one goal, and that is to destroy my animals. This fight has costs hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. There would be no benefit, what so ever, to the State of California to destroy these birds. There would be great benefit to the children, and adults, in my community to allow me to continue to care for these remaining loved and valued birds. The Wildlife Center is in and ideal location for a Wildlife Shelter. I have the support of my City, neighbors and community. I want to continue my good work and serve the people and wildlife of San Diego County. I am presently trying to pass legislation in Sacramento to allow the WLC to operate as a Wildlife Shelter.