All creatures great and small.

As our suburban areas continue to expand there are increasing interactions between people and natives to the land.

Sadly, with wildlife woefully unprepared to coexist with us, they often come out on the losing end.

While some people see certain species as pests they are an indisputable, integral link in the food chain of an ecosystem and need to be protected.

Thankfully, there are many organizations who dedicate their time and efforts to rehabilitating wildlife where people can drop off injured or abandoned animals.

In my first blog, designed to shine a light on these dedicated volunteers, a tip of the hat to the Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary.

Kristy Bailey, one of the dedicated staff caring for injured animals over the winter months

Established in 2005 the sanctuary is a not-for-profit, registered charity that has given life saving care to nearly 4,000 animals to date.

Founder and Executive Director Linda Laurus has over 16 years experience working with wildlife and had originaly opened the centre out of her own home.

For all her dedication Laurus cannot do all the work herself. A dedicated team of staff and volunteers are needed to get the chores done. The greatest demand is during the summer months when they see the highest influx of animals.

Caring for all the wildlife that arrives over that time requires enthusiastic people who can offer their time to the centre.

This is a great opportunity for students who want experience working with wildlife.

"Students who are looking for a unique opportunity can participate in our internship program," says Kristy Bailey, rehabilitation manager. "We typically have about 12 interns and we have about 50 animal care volunteers."

"The most popular volunteer stream," says Bailey. "Is definitely our animal care assistant program."

The sanctuary is looking for volunteers willing to make a four hour commitment once a week for the spring and summer. No experience is necessary, only a passion for wildlife is required.

Volunteers are responsible for cleaning cages, feeding the animals, preparing food and other basic duties at the sanctuary.

The time and effort given to the animals has its benefits to the caregivers in return.

"I really enjoy seeing the animals released at the end of a long period of rehabilitation," Bailey says. "It's just the best. It's what we're all looking for."

Supply donations are a constant need at the shelter as well. Old blankets, towels, dried food and cleaning supplies are always required and appreciated.

Although the facility is rarely open to the public, June of every year there is an open house where visitors are welcome to drop by and see the operations at the sanctuary and their various inhabitants.

Those interested in volunteering or donating much needed supplies can find full details on the sanctuary's webpage:

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