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October 20, 2009

Ducks In A Row

Interns duck out while on assignment to protect meandering mallards

Part of an online series profiling staff who volunteer "Off Duty"

  • The mother mallard and her ducklings were in danger of waddling into traffic. Michelle McDonald

  • Alexandria Animal Control Officer Allan Corman was able to humanely capture the ducks and transport them back to the river. Michelle McDonald

by Michelle McDonald

When Humane Society Legislative Fund interns Kim Kelly and Michelle McDonald went to Alexandria, Va. to leaflet for the Virginia gubernatorial primary, they had no idea that their day would include a duck rescue. The day had been fairly quiet, until a woman asked Michelle if she had seen the baby ducks and pointed toward a parking garage across the street.

Kim and Michelle noticed a small group of people gathered in a driveway and went to investigate. Huddled against the curb was a female mallard and her five ducklings.
 
A maintenance worker from a nearby building had seen the mother duck lead her babies toward the entrance of an underground parking garage. Fearing that the ducks would become trapped inside, or be run over by a car, he had guided the birds away from the garage.

Soon, a concerned bystander called the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria to send assistance.

Out of harm's way

Restless and ready to be on their way, the ducks made a beeline for the road, so Michelle and Kim shepherded the ducks toward an enclosed area to keep them safe.

Before long, Alexandria Animal Control Officer Allan Corman arrived. He told everyone that the mother might fly away if he tried to catch her, which would leave the ducklings alone to die. He also said the closest body of water was more than 10 blocks away and that the mother might not be able to find her way back to it on her own.

However, Officer Corman thought he had a good chance of catching the mother, who was cornered in an area with a roof overhead. He had brought a cage large enough to hold the ducks and a net to corral them into the cage. Kim stood ready to catch any babies that avoided the net, and Michelle quickly closed the cage once they were all inside.

Catch and release

Fortunately, the capture was a success and all five ducklings and their mother were placed in the cage without harm. The passersby who had stayed to watch were cheering, and one was in tears to see such compassion for animals and a very happy ending.

Officer Corman, knowing that Michelle and Kim were interns with the Humane Society Legislative Fund, invited them to drive with him to the river to release the birds.

The fruits of their campaign efforts would play out at the polls another day, but as Michelle and Kim watched the ducks they helped rescue swim happily into the Potomac River, they relished their unexpected assignment—all in a day's work at The HSUS!

Students Michelle McDonald and Kim Kelly interned with the Humane Society Legislative Fund in summer 2009.

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