January 13, 2010
Rescue and Recuperation
Newest HSUS care center heals the sick, injured.
by Alan Green
The first patients ushered through the intake and examination areas on this autumn Sunday represent nothing out of the ordinary for veterinarian Stefan Harsch: There’s a parrot with a separated shoulder, a duck unable to waddle, and a hobbled juvenile squirrel with a severely sprained leg. In the nearby triage area is a shoebox full of ducklings whose mother was found dead near their nesting site. Among yesterday’s late arrivals requiring follow-up care are two with fractured limbs: a raccoon and a long-legged water bird. And the worried phone calls besieging the admissions staff foretell what else the day may bring: A woman fears that a snarling opossum in her backyard shed may be rabid; a dove has flown into a window on a seventh-story balcony; a kayaker has spotted an injured wading bird futilely struggling to reach the nearby shoreline.
These are familiar challenges for Harsch, a thoughtful and engaging German expatriate who practices his uncommon brand of veterinary medicine with nonchalant confidence. In fact, over the last few days he’s treated only the sort of illnesses and injuries that he’s grown all too accustomed to seeing during his five years at the SPCA Wildlife Care Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.: the raccoon with distemper, the warbler with a possible concussion, the screech owl with a broken wing, the opossum with a busted leg, the migrating songbird mauled by a cat, the rabbit with a nasty case of ear mites.