YORKTOWN, Ind. (AP) — A woman who’s nursed scores of animals back to health says her own — and relatives’ urging — has led her to close the wildlife rehabilitation center she’s run out of her backyard for years.
Diana Shaffer, 75, said she’s saddened that she’s had to shutter her Wildlife Resqu Haus, which she operated in outbuildings and cages in the backyard of her family’s Yorktown home. Shaffer said she has lung problems, rheumatoid arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease.
“I’ve been told for years and years and years that I have to get out of this,” she told The Star Press (http://tspne.ws/1a2yh6A ).
Shaffer said she was just a girl when she started caring for injured animals, bringing them to her mother, who was a nurse.
The Muncie native said that at some point in her life she encountered a group of children kicking around a bird like a ball, and intervened.
When she was a surgical technician, she used to hide birds and other injured or ailing animals in a doctor’s office closet, feeding them during her breaks. Her daughter, Lisa Osterhoff, said life at home was filled with recuperating animals, from birds of prey to bats.
Osterhoff, a former Delaware County Fair queen, recalls being questioned by pageant judges and telling them about life with a chicken afflicted with cerebral palsy. The family home was at times home to a deer, raccoons, a skunk, a prairie dog and even a bat that would swoop down hallways without raising eyebrows.
“We used to stay up in the middle of the night feeding Enfamil to baby possums,” Osterhoff recalled.
The animals’ care schedule kept the family from visiting its lake cabin for more than two nights. And they had to bring along the animals that needed daily feedings.
“It was like Noah’s Ark, going to the lake in the summer,” Shaffer said. “Cages in the car. Baskets of babies.”
Shaffer currently has a blind kestrel, a red-tailed hawk with one wing and a barred owl that someone removed from its nest as a fledgling to keep as a pet.
Her husband, John Shaffer, said he’s relieved that she has decided to stop taking in and caring for animals.
“I couldn’t be happier. … I am ready. I’ve been ready,” he said.
Information from: The Star Press, http://www.thestarpress.com