Helping hands

Imagine volunteering a single weekend and, as a result of your visit, being able to permanently improve the quality of life for over 1,000 animals. Talk about time well spent! And that’s exactly what happened after one of the caregivers at Best Friends headed down to Las Vegas to help out one weekend.

Parrot staffer Wendy Hatchel wanted to volunteer at Gilcrease Nature Sanctuary in Las Vegas, home to over 1,000 birds. With her expertise and training from Best Friends, Wendy thought she might be able to be of some assistance to the many parrots at Gilcrease. Boy, was she ever.

The staff asked for her help with wing, beak and nail trims, but really, that was only the beginning. Wendy started telling them more about the care and practices at Best Friends, and they grew interested. For one thing, Wendy explained how a seed-based diet such as the one they were using was really not the best thing for birds. That’s kind of like having potato chips or french fries for breakfast, lunch and dinner. As a result of that conversation, the staff at Gilcrease has decided to switch over to pellets — a great move, and one that will be a big help for the birds there.

But that wasn’t the end. The folks down at Gilcrease want to learn even more about how Best Friends cares for parrots. They plan to send some of their own staff up to volunteer at the sanctuary, to watch and learn. And every trick and tip they pick up will help the birds in their care.

One other result came from the weekend excursion. Gilcrease has several birds with medical problems they don’t have the funds to correct. At Best Friends, however, the medical care and expertise are right on sanctuary grounds. So, five birds from Gilcrease are going to come to the sanctuary for at-cost care and surgery. Best Friends’ avian vet Dr. Deb Nicholson plans to examine each thoroughly and provide whatever medical care they need. The birds will then go back to Gilcrease.

The bottom line is, take heart, all you weekend warriors and volunteers in the trenches. You never know when your time is going to make a huge difference in the lives of the animals you love.

Story by David Dickson

Photo by Sarah Ause

Learn more about what one person can do to help animals in their own communities in the Best Friends online resources.

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