PAWS Magazine


Issue 54, Spring 2003


Dedicated Sponsors

By Bonnie Parrish

Bill and Denice Aubuchon, life-long animal lovers and dedicated PAWS supporters, have devoted themselves to helping animals any way they can. Over the years, they’ve taken in dozens of stray cats, including Aurora, a tabby Bill has had for 19 years, and Kitty Boy, who only trusts Denice (she saved him from horrible abuse).


In addition to Kiwi, an Australian cattle dog, the couple also adopted Kula (a 4-year-old female Shepard mix) from PAWS. The Aubuchons’ love and patience have helped her become a happy, confident dog.

"When I look into the eyes of animals," Bill said, "I see sentient beings able to feel, express, exhibit personality and, sadly, to suffer. My heart cannot turn away from such need, and I feel compelled to help PAWS in any way that I can."

And help the couple does. For more than a year, they have been sharing the proceeds of their real estate commissions with PAWS through the Coldwell Banker Bain Associates' Community Partnership, a program that allows agents to donate a portion of their commission on the sale of a home to a nonprofit organization. Denice said, "There is nothing more important to us than the fact that PAWS does not euthanize any healthy, adoptable companion animal—no matter how long it takes to find them a home. That is amazing."

Getting past my fear of brids at PAWS Wildlife Center

By Amber Ukena

For months, I lived in fear of the gulls at PAWS. When left alone to clean their caging, I'd pace the room, sweating, attempting to convince myself that I could capture and move those gulls. I’d go home exhausted, hoping it wasn’t going to be my turn to clean the ward again the following week.


Trying to understand my fear, I thought about why I'd begun volunteering at the PAWS Wildlife Center: I wanted to experience wildlife in a way I'd never be able to experience them in my every day life, learn about wild animals and help them to be free once again, and get past my fear of birds. Those animals needed me to give them a clean, warm place to sleep, fresh water, and nourishing food. They needed me to be free once again.

I am now trained as a senior volunteer and can administer tube feedings and medication to birds (including gulls), and I’ve begun my training handling raptors. I now work directly with those beaks and talons that I was so frightened of.

I'm so thankful for the amazing things I’ve experienced and for the animals who have crossed my path. And although all wild creatures hold a special place in my heart, I must admit that those I now call my favorites have wings.

Feather imping helps return a bird to the wild

By Kevin Mack

Feather imping, a process developed by falconers, is a technique in which unbroken feathers from one bird are used to repair the feathers of another. In January, imping was used at PAWS to repair the tail of a Merlin (a small falcon). The bird had arrived at the wildlife center with head trauma (from which she quickly recovered), and she did not have a single unbroken tail feather. Because Merlins prey on other birds to survive, they must be able to maneuver themselves quickly through the air. Broken tail feathers create a significant handicap for fast, controlled flight. PAWS’ wildlife veterinarian, John Huckabee, was able to repair the merlin’s tail through imping, making her immediately ready for release, after recovering from her initial injuries.


Dr. Huckabee used the tail feathers from a Merlin that died over a year ago to repair the tail of the recent patient. Each broken feather on the living bird was cut, and the broken section was discarded. This left a short piece of the lower, unfeathered portion of the shaft still attached to the bird. Each donor feather was cut at the same point along its shaft as the broken feather. The upper shaft of the donor feather was then joined to the lower shaft of the broken feather using another, smaller piece of shaft. A small amount of VetbondTM surgical glue helped to secure the donor feather in place. Because each individual tail feather has a unique length and shape, depending on its position on the tail, care was taken to match the donor feathers with the exact corresponding feathers on the recipient’s tail.

Once the imping process was complete, the Merlin had a brand new and fully functional tail. Instead of spending several months in captivity waiting for new feathers to grow in, she was released about ten weeks after being admitted.

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