Wildlife Rescue gets a rescue of its own

Struggling Palo Alto nonprofit merges with better-funded humane society

Wildlife Rescue Incorporated, a Palo Alto-based nonprofit, completed a merger with San Mateo-based Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA, the latter announced today.

Local squirrels, hummingbirds and other injured animals will continue to receive care at Wildlife Rescue's Middlefield Road facility, Humane Society President Ken White said.

But the society's Director of Wildlife Sue Kelly will spend six months assessing the Middlefield facility to see whether staffing or programming changes are needed, he said.

More staff might be necessary, he said when asked further.

Founded in 1974, the largely volunteer-run Wildlife Rescue fell on hard times last year, board Vice President Michelle Cobb said in October, when the merger was being discussed.

Funding cuts from the cities of Palo Alto and Mountain View had caused a budget crunch that led to staff cuts and even the cancellation of the annual Raptor Release gala, she said.

She and the board promoted the merger as a way to save the group -- whereas the operating budget of Wildlife Rescue is $200,000, the Peninsula Humane Society's is $9 million.

Today's announcement states the majority of 77 percent of Wildlife Rescue members voted for the merger on Nov. 7, but members were initially displeased with the plan.

"This came as a bolt out of the blue to the membership," said Valerie Baldwin, volunteer and former president and board member.

Volunteers hadn't been notified previously and worried their crucial role would be overlooked, a concern cleared up after a meeting with White, she said.

Volunteers will still be able to care for animals at home and the name Wildlife Rescue will still be used, White said.

The merger comes at an ideal time because fewer animals are brought to rescue centers in the winter, he said.

At the San Mateo center, a typical winter day might yield six injured animals, versus the 300 common in summer, he said.

The slower pace will allow the two groups plenty of time to merge staff and procedures, he said.


Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 5, 2007 at 5:15 pm

Poor management caused the demise of Wildlife Rescue not loss of contracts. PAW should dig deeper for the real story

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