Bonn · Animal Welfare recorded 850 visits last year. Practice manager Christiane Waldmann (48) is currently nursing five injured hedgehogs. However, many animal rescuers are unsure about the costs.
Whether hedgehogs or squirrels - finders regularly bring injured wild animals to the practice of Bonn veterinarian Ansgar Waldmann. In the meantime, practice manager Christiane Waldmann has set up a small hedgehog rescue centre on site. Especially in summer, hedgehogs are brought in with bad cuts. Currently, the Bonn resident is preparing five of the prickly friends for their hibernation.
"They are fed to 600 grams before they can go into hibernation," explains Waldmann as she gently lifts one animal out of its box. Five hedgehogs are currently being treated - in summer the number can quickly grow to ten. "If we can and have the capacity, we are happy to help. Otherwise we refer them to the animal rescue service in Bonn," explains Waldmann. This is one of the tasks of the Bonn fire brigade. It can be alerted via the control centre (see „Help").
Last year, the animal rescue service went on about 850 missions. Especially in "time-critical operations", the fire brigade is supposed to help "all animals in distress", according to the city. Waldmann observes, however, that some callers are apparently already being denied help at the control centre. Leonie Schröder, for example, discovered a deformed hedgehog in her garden and immediately called the fire brigade, "The young man on the phone was very friendly, but couldn't help us. He advised us to simply put the hedgehog out again, despite the obvious deformity of its body," the Bonn resident says. "That's just nature," the contact person added.
After the conversation, a police car drove to the address. A municipal employee said on the spot that "he was not allowed to transport wild animals", Schröder reports. "It was with a heavy heart that we released the hedgehog.
Waldmann finds the animal rescue service's approach incomprehensible. She raises the question of costs: if the rescue service takes the animal to a vet, the city pays the bill. If the finder takes the found animal to an animal shelter, for example, the institution pays the costs.
If the finder goes directly to the doctor, there is a dilemma: If the finder has to pay, "only a few will take care of injured animals", says Waldmann. If the practice doesn't charge, "he's stuck with the costs, because there's nowhere else to pass them on. And the finder would have to take the animal to the shelter afterwards, which is also a problem for some, like lack of time, or the thought that you have already done enough for the animal," says the practice manager.
She would like to see the animal rescue service either go out as a flat rate for every injured animal, or find a way for veterinarians to bill the city for the care of wild animals without the rescue service bringing the animal to the practice. Waldmann wants even more clarity: "Sometimes animal rescue seems to be responsible, sometimes not. A blackbird was refused help, an injured hedgehog too. So who takes care of wild animals?"
Spokesman Frank Frenser clarifies, "Domestic and urban animals are transported by animal rescue to a vet who takes care of them." Injured wild animals, such as wild boar, deer or geese, on the other hand, are taken care of by the responsible hunting ranger or hunting leaseholder. In some cases, there are also special rescue centres in the region, which are approached in coordination with the responsible authority.
Dead animals are transported by Bonnorange. Uninjured animals are also gladly released back into the wild. "As long as no cause is known for an operation, the costs are covered by the City of Bonn," Frenser explains. Classic missions to which the animal rescue is called are injured pigeons, duck families in distress, and supposedly flightless ducks, geese or swans.
Mostly injured small animals such as hedgehogs, seagulls or squirrels are brought to the shelter, reports staff member Sabine Reuter. Cuts and broken wings are the order of the day, especially in summer. The shelter does not take in larger wild animals such as birds of prey, foxes or wild boars. "We don't have the capacity for that.“
So far, the shelter has taken over the costs for the animals' medical care itself. Because the rule is: "Whoever takes the animal pays." After the treatments, the animals are passed on to species-appropriate wild animal sanctuaries via volunteer drivers. "If a seagull or a hedgehog is injured, then the animal shelter bears the full costs. If, on the other hand, the animal is taken to the doctor by the animal rescue, the practice can settle with the City of Bonn," Reuter explains the details. Consideration of a future model for taking in and caring for wild animals has been initiated in the meantime, she says.
Original text: Niklas Schröder
Translation: Mareike Graepel