by Diana Hockley
We at KRL support all kinds of animal rescue. This week we are chatting with Annette King of Wild Heart Ranch Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation in Oklahoma.
KRL: Rescuing animals is a labor of love and extraordinary dedication. What was the catalyst for the creation of the Wild Heart Ranch, and when did it come into being?
Annette: Twenty years ago I was working as an insurance rep and bought a small farm for a real estate investment. Soon I was taking in homeless animals of all kinds. Then, someone brought me a pair of orphaned raccoon kits and I soon found they had nowhere to go. When I was told to either abandon them or shoot them, I opted to get a rehab license to help them. Over the next seven months more than 800 wild animals were brought to me to help. It was then I realized I needed to provide assistance on a large scale.
KRL: Was Wild Heart a traditional ranch to begin with, and then become a rescue organization?
Annette:No, it was just my pets before that. I funded the wildlife rescue for 12 years by working three jobs until I needed to become a non-profit to continue.
KRL: I know you have a large variety of animals, some of which can never be released. Do you have a network of foster volunteers to care for those?
Annette: No. Animals who come here, stay here.
KRL: What sort of set-up do you have? Is it a private house, a shed, or a purpose-built complex?
Annette: Purpose-built complex. We have 40 acres; that includes a 2,400 sq. foot wildlife clinic, dozens of outside cages and enclosures, and a 100’ x 24’ x 17’ eagle flight cage.
KRL: How many can you accommodate of each type of animal?
Annette: We can handle and house up to 1,000 animals at a time. Fortunately, we rotate out to releases and maintain no more than 500-600 at a time in spring/summer.
KRL: Do the local authorities support you?
Annette: Yes, but not monetarily. We can always contact any local law enforcement and get assistance. They are wonderful and many have become close friends.
KRL: How does the local community regard your activities, and are they supportive with in-kind and monetary donations?
Annette: Yes, the local community helps support our work by donating supplies, funds, time, and resources. It has been a welcome change to see the outpouring of support for our local wildlife. It wasn’t this way when I began.
KRL: Do you have many volunteers, and how do you recruit them?
Annette: We have about 60 volunteers, and recruit on Facebook when help is needed.
KRL: What are the special challenges in rescuing some animals? Which are the most difficult to care for, e.g., special needs?
Annette: Predators must be raised to be wild and reclusive. Bear and cougar are always a lot of extra work and expense.
KRL: Have you any fund-raising events coming up, and would you like to give the details?
Annette: [We’re having] a fund-raising event in November at Will Rogers Downs: “Dine for the Wild” tickets are $50 each. Live and silent auctions, fine dining, and a whole lot of fun! We use PayPal and take cards over the phone.
KRL: Do local vet surgeries help in any way?
Annette: We have four veterinarians who donate medical care.
KRL: Does the nearest ASPCA send animals to you, and do they help if they can?
Annette: All domestic rescues refer wildlife calls to us.
KRL: Have you been involved in any hoarder or big rescues? If so can you tell us about it?
Annette: Yes, multiples. [A] pet store fire took in hundreds, [and a] pet store raid hundreds [more]; [we] adopted all the animals out after we got them healthy. [We had a] dog hoarding case; 35 dogs [were] assisted and re-homed in a week, but the domestic side is not our focus. We cannot do it all, and we have to try to steer away from these expensive and time-consuming rescues. We want to help everyone, but we just can’t. We are currently building a domestic rescue facility just for law enforcement to use for seized horses and dogs. The name is WAR (Wildheart Animal Rescue) and it will help the legal system combat animal cruelty and neglect. We also have our own certified animal cruelty investigator.
KRL: What are your most urgent needs right now, and how can people help?
Annette: Funds are always needed. We are in our high season and our daily expenses are $350 a day.
KRL: What are your website URL, Facebook, and Twitter details?
Donation link: paypal.me/wildheart
Check out more animal rescue related articles in our pet section.
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