Shortage of space at some animal care centers a 'crisis'

Shortage of space at some animal care centers a 'crisis'
LYNNWOOD, Wash. -- From a severely dehydrated seal pup to a nest full of wide mouthed baby birds, shelters in our area are brimming with orphaned wild animals.

The PAWS Wildlife Center in Lynnwood cares for 3,000 animals a year, and most of those are babies. Kevin Mack, a PAWS naturalist, gave us a tour of the grounds, including the baby bird nursery, where an intern fed orphaned baby song birds.

They won't always rely on this human help.

"As they move toward independence, as they learn to feed themselves, it's almost like a light switch trips and they go from being what you see now, which looks fairly dependent, to wanting nothing to do with us," he said.

A short walk from the bird nursery, a lone seal pup eyed us with curiosity. This orphan will need longer term care.

The seal pup was dehydrated and nearing starvation when a biologist rescued her from the beach in Tokeland.

"She's actually been a model seal patient. She took her milk feeding very well. Then she started on whole fish pretty quickly," Mack said.

As she continues to develop, workers will start feeding her live fish so she learns how to hunt them herself in the water.

he's the only orphaned seal at PAWS right now, but the center is maxed out on mallard ducks, deer fawns and raccoons. South Sound Critter Care is full of raccoons, too. They raised 47 raccoons last year, and they are running at the same pace this year.

Veterinarian Jan White calls the shortage of space a crisis.

"At this point we are looking at euthanasia for many of these animals if we cannot expand the capacity in King County," she said.

Euthanisia is not an option at PAWS, but some animals are turned away.

"We have to make sure the animals we do take in have the highest quality of care and unfortunately that means we have to limit intake for some of them," Mack said.

If you would like to help, PAWS has a baby shower wishlist on its website.

South Sound Critter Care is looking for someone with property in King County where cages can be built to care for animals. If you can help call 360-886-8000. And if you see an animal you think is injured or orphaned, here are steps to take..