Arlington, VA

During the floods that devastated Arlington two weeks ago, it wasn’t just people’s pets that needed rescuing.

Wild animals — especially young ones — were at an especially high risk of being orphaned by the storm because of the time of the year, according to the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, and staff say they rescued dozens of critters.

“After the flood water receded the wildlife calls started to come in,” said Animal Control Chief Jennifer Toussaint.

“From deer who were in odd areas appearing disoriented to dozens of orphaned baby bird and squirrel calls,” she said. “It look about 3 days for our calls for wildlife to go back to the standard volumes we see this time of year. Unfortunately given the time of year many small unweaned animals were thrown from their nests and orphaned.”

Among the orphans were baby squirrel siblings, and a juvenile Cooper’s hawk. AWLA was able to care for them overnight, staff told ARLnow, and transfer them to a wildlife rescue organization that will hopefully be able to rehabilitate them for the wild.

“When we get in wildlife it is either re-released back into other wild, or we do triage care until we get a wildlife rehabilitator,” said AWLA spokeswoman Chelsea Jones. Due to the call volume that Monday it was “all hands on deck” at AWLA, she said..

Toussaint was dispatched to help the Westover community, which was especially hit hard by the flooding, checking homes with pets whose owners were away at work during the morning storm.

“I was present when the fire department aided a woman and her cat out of the flood waters in her basement and up to safety,” she said. “We brought that cat in here to AWLA for safekeeping, a free program we have for boarding animals in an emergency situation.”

She said residents were taking in each other’s pets to keep them safe, and directing first responders to check their elderly neighbors. Jones confirmed that the cat was able to return to its owner after five days of care at AWLA, and all wild animals rescued have been either re-released or transferred to a wildlife rehabilitation organization.

Toussaint said the kindness people showed each other “highlighted the true strength of community we have here in Arlington.”

“I stood in the home of a member of the public who had just lost everything — an inch of water on the floor of the first level, darkness filling the house as the power was cut for safety,” she said. “I listened to one of the captains from our fire department say, ‘I will not leave until I know you have a safe place to go and a plan.'”

Photos (1 and 2) courtesy Jennifer Toussaint, (3 and 4) courtesy Nicole Bender, (5 and 6) courtesy Brandon Jones

×

Subscribe to our mailing list