How is the WCB uniting Wildlife Rescues/Rehabbers across the UK, as well as Vet Practices & Veterinary Professionals?
As with any new organisation, it helps us to get really clear on our ‘messaging’ (presenting what we’re about) whenever there’s feedback or questions.
There were a few concerns/remarks shared with me, when the WCB launched, on how the WCB could divide the wildlife rehab community unnecessarily: causing more division instead of helping everyone to work together. (I want to say thank you for the feedback, so that I can address the issue and write this post)…
The WCB was set up to ensure high standards of wildlife rehab care across the UK, for EVERY wild life across the UK and to create a safe positive community for Wildlife Rehabbers & Vets to work in, out of a lot of the chaos that the current wildlife rehab industry generally offers. Eg. Rehabber critiquing Rehabber (both openly and privately), every single Rescue being both praised and criticised to anyone who wants to know, depending on who is talking about them. (Depending on who you’re asking, every Wildlife Rescue/Rehabber is both brilliant and awful, at one and the same time).
It is very difficult in the wildlife rescue industry to know who to trust to work with: it is common amongst all of the Rehabbers that I have spoken to across the UK (and I am connected with and speak to probably 100s) for Rehabbers who support one another one day to have a falling out over standards the next day. I have been made aware of whole local communities breaking down, where the local Rescues aren’t supporting one another and speaking badly of one another to members of the public, who get very confused as to where they can actually, safely take an animal, to get proper care.
So how does the WCB unify, instead of divide?
A UNITED WILDLIFE REHAB CARE COMMUNITY…. By developing our Directory/Map of WCB Holders, we are creating a community where everyone knows that they all share the same basic standards of wildlife rehab care. It is a community in which everyone understands why minimum standards are required and why they are the absolute minimum level of care that should be provided: 1. A minimum level of knowledge in order to be able to treat the wildlife casualty/orphan in front of you. 2. A suitable premises to offer the best care (and how that premises should be set up in terms of biosecurity, lack of stress for the animals, social groupings, enrichment etc). 3. That everyone should be working with a local Vet, in order to access the diagnostic tools / procedures / operations / medications needed to offer a minimum level of care to wildlife casualties/orphans.
They can trust one another to ask advice from each other, knowing that they won’t be judged as they have all proven their equal standards. Within that safe community - which also has a very strict ‘no bullying’ policy - other issues can then be safely talked about and debated, with everyone knowing that they are speaking to someone of the same mindset, in that they all want to only do the best for the animals in their care. Different treatments and even different ideas on euthanasia - and what really offers the highest welfare opportunity for each animal, euthanasia versus captive disabled - can be discussed much more openly.
It is also a safe, supportive community because we help to oversee disputes or concerns about badge holders. We have had some reports about WCB Holders offering incorrect care and we have whole procedures in place where we were able to objectively investigate and even have meetings with the badge holder in question, to then be able - having seen objective proof - to report back to the concerned party that we have investigated and that their concerns were based on a misunderstanding, which we then clear up for them.
Previously, when people have had these concerns they have led to attacking comments on Rescue pages and the slandering of one another. The WCB prevents all of that. We help to hold everyone together in a transparent, supportive community.
UNITING & BUILDING TRUST BEWEEN LARGE & SMALL RESCUES… We want to unify the current ‘Big Rescue Centre/Home Based Rehabber’ divide. What does this mean? Right now there’s a lack of trust on both sides between the large Rescue centres (with Vets either onsite or visiting the site and with large hospital spaces etc) and smaller more home based Rescues, who can either be referred to as ‘Grass Roots Rescues’ or ‘Home Based Rescues’. Larger centres can sometimes think of smaller Rescues as offering much lesser care for wildlife and smaller Rehabbers can sometimes accuse larger centres of not treating each animal who comes in as an individual, as they see so many. It has been my experience that it makes NO difference whether a Rescue is huge or tiny, in terms of the care they provide: it’s all about having the mindset to treat each animal as an individual whilst being set up to offer the best care possible. Both large centres and smaller Rehabbers can have this mindset and be set up properly.
So let’s talk about smaller Rescues and use them as an example of the WCB is a unifying force…. All of the WCB Holders who are very small Rescues, working out of parts of their home or from outdoor buildings in their garden, are all set up to a very high standard: the same standard as large centres. They have the same level of knowledge on the species they’re rehabbing as staff who work in large centres, they have a very close working relationship with a local Vet (which is generally so close it could be called collaborative) so that the wildlife in their care have access to the same medical treatments as the wildlife in large centres, and finally their premises, though much smaller, are of the same hospital standard, with suitable enclosures, enrichment, social groupings and the same high levels of biosecurity and quarantine facilities.
Through the WCB enabling smaller home based Wildlife Rescues to prove their standards, we are working to build trust and much greater understanding between ALL Rescues (large and small) so that there can be much greater respect and everyone can help wildlife much more together.
UNITING VET PRACTICES & WILDLIFE RESCUES IN WILDLIFE CARE…. Finally, we’re uniting Vet Practices/Veterinary Professionals & Wildlife Rescues/Rehabbers. There can be a lot of ‘Vet Bashing’ in the wildlife rescue industry and it’s very damaging. The fact is, that just as there is a difference in levels of care between Rehabbers, so there is a difference in levels of wildlife experience, amongst Veterinary Professionals. Through the WCB I have had the great pleasure to connect and work with LOTS of very wildlife loving Vet Professionals, just as I get to work with great Wildlife Rehabbers. The WCB is in the process of setting up a structure that fully supports Vet Practices & Wildlife Rehabbers to work together and complement one another in their efforts (having meetings with both parties, together and separately) and working to provide logistical support to both parties, so that wildlife can get the best care possible across the UK. You can see all about this on the WCB website, if you look through the different pages for ‘groups/meetings.’
One last thing…
We promote WCB Holders to members of the public with wildlife casualties - through our MAP - because they are of a proven standard (compared to those that we know much less about).
When I am personally asked by a member of the public, through running UK Wildlife Transporters, “What about this Rehabber who is not on the map?” I will say, “They might be brilliant but they are not proven so I don’t know.”
OR, if they have been really criticised to me (which happens a lot, I get sent lots of messages from different Rehabbers who want to let me know how bad another Rescue is, for a number of reasons) I will say, “They might be brilliant but unfortunately they have been criticised to me and so, without personally seeing proof of their standards, I wouldn’t personally recommend taking to them.”
It is NOT a case that anyone who doesn’t have the WCB is a ‘bad Rehabber’ or can’t offer proper care. With us just starting out and with only a few Badge Holders so far, a lot of Rescues without the badge WILL be amazing and brilliant. It is only that they are not proven and so how can I know - and how can members of the public and Vet Practices know - if I can trust them to send an animal to?
Our wildlife deserve all of the care that we demand for ourself and our pets. That is all the WCB is about, getting them that care and providing a safe, supportive community for Wildlife Rehabbers and Vet Professionals to do so.
Thanks for reading.