The wildlife team crowds into the office with reports, coffee cups of every size and shape, and
at least a few sleepy eyes. It’s time for morning rounds. Veterinarian John Huckabee begins…
“American Crow. Spinal issues. Improving. American Crow number 12-2543. Treating for ulna effects…”
So begins another day at PAWS Wildlife Center. The faces are all familiar, except one. She sits quietly in the room as rehabilitators discuss the day’s priorities. She focuses intently on Dr. John’s every word.
“Rock Pigeon number 12-2530. Laceration closure is healing well; let’s check tomorrow to see if the skin is still vital…”
This unfamiliar face belongs to Dr. Özlem Nisbet, a veterinary surgeon and professor from Samsun, Turkey. Dr. Nisbet has travelled more than 6,000 miles from home on a very important mission.
“My university is planning on opening a wildlife rehabilitation facility. I’m here to see how it’s done.”
For six weeks, Dr. Nisbet will learn how to admit and care for injured and orphaned wild animals, and then introduce them back into the wild. This is an opportunity PAWS offers to students and wildlife professionals from all over the world.
According to PAWS Wildlife Center Director Jennifer Convy, PAWS is one of the most sought after training grounds.
“Last year we had 19 rehabilitation interns and six veterinary student externs from across the US and Canada” says Convy.
Jean Lauder is a veterinary professor from Thomson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia. She explains why PAWS is a favorite destination for her students.
“PAWS is an extremely popular practicum for them because the staff is so supportive, kind and generous with their knowledge.”
For Dr. Nisbet, it’s a priceless experience, even if she has a little trouble with the language.
“We have to speak slowly and clearly,” says Dr. John, “but she has a DVM and a PhD. She knows her stuff.”
Dr. Nisbet will spend this day learning how to properly clean and disinfect cages, how to prepare dietary schedules, and how to feed animals in their first six weeks of life. It’s a daunting challenge for this Turkish veterinarian, but one she says she is extremely grateful for.
“The staff has been so helpful. They even helped me find a place to stay, and a bicycle to ride to work on!”
Maybe that’s because there’s an international language of caring—one spoken from Istanbul, all the way to Seattle.
Above: Veterinarians John Huckabee and Ozlem Nisbet perform an eye exam on a gull in care at the PAWS Wildlife Center.
Above: After the eye exam, Drs. Huckabee and Nisbet observe the gull's movements and discuss his progress.