I have had the opportunity to assist Fellow Mortals in their efforts to rehabilitate wildlife for many years. As a veterinarian with a special interest in orthopedic surgery, I have volunteered my skills and those of my staff to fix the broken bones of the animals brought to us. I began providing this service to help a truly wonderful organization but soon came to see that I was getting as much benefit out of it as anyone else. These animals have a great drive to survive and an incredible ability to heal. Often fractures that would take months to heal in us, even with the latest and greatest repair methods, take only a few weeks to heal in a wild animal. Most often a simple stainless steel pin driven through the fracture to keep it aligned and a bandage is enough. The pin is generally removed when the bone is healed so that rehabilitation can begin. A month or two later, the animal may be ready for release. I am truly amazed at how God has given these animals such extraordinary survival skills.
Over the years, I have seen some of nature’s most beautiful creatures released back into the wild after we repaired a broken bone. Recently, Fellow Mortals gave me and my family the opportunity to release a screech owl. A few months earlier, I had pinned a broken wing on him and he was scared, thin and weak. He did well with surgery and the bone had healed. I always say that my job is the easy part—the care and rehabilitation done by the staff at Fellow Mortals is what makes it successful. My job is done in an hour; their job may last months. Fellow Mortals does this so well that I don’t have to tell them much; instead they teach me about what these animals need. Together, we make a great team.
Now, along with my wife and son, I was releasing him. He was now healed and strong. To see this amazing animal with its beautiful markings, large yellow eyes, and sharp talons become so excited as it was brought outside for the first time in months demonstrated just how these animals are truly meant for the wild. Captivity allowed him to survive and heal, but his place was out of the cage. He was going home and he knew it. There was no thank-you from him and he doesn’t (didn’t) send me a Christmas card, but the satisfaction of seeing him disappear silently into the night was more than enough.
A few years ago, I was nearly killed by a drunk driver. I was saved by the very skilled doctors and nurses who used their God-given talents to save me. Now I see this as an opportunity to pay it forward. I use my God-given skills and those of my staff to help others—in this case the animals—just like those that helped me. Every animal that is saved heals physically while providing those involved with the spiritual healing we all need. It is a true blessing.