Animal rescuer on a mission

First Posted: 4/9/2009

Bats in the attic? Raccoons in the chimney? Snakes under your house? There is a solution and her name is Linda Harris.
Harris is a lover of all animals great and small. Thats what drives her passion to help animals who have gotten into homes where they arent wanted. Harris is a certified N.C. Wildlife Damage Control agent and a Wildlife Rehabilitation specialist. She also performs exotic animal rescues.
She said this is the time of year that raccoons like to climb into chimneys and have their babies.
They get into the chimneys to have their babies and once the babies get a little bigger, they cant get out, Harris said Thursday afternoon while riding around in her Krid-R Rid-R truck colorfully adorned with all types of animals.
Its an easy fix. If people would just put caps on their chimneys, the raccoons would find somewhere else to have their babies, she said.
Harris said raccoons go where the food is. So they climb in the chimneys and when no one is looking, they go into the house to steal food. She said it is a problem for many folks living in this area.
I got 10 raccoons out of the Woltzs chimney, she said of her work at one local household.
Thursday afternoon she was busy checking traps she has set out at Margaret McGuires home on Grace Street. The homeowner has been having problems with raccoons getting into her trash cans and compost bin in the back yard.
While driving down the street away from McGuires home she pointed out, look how many chimneys dont have caps. It amazes me.
Part of Harris service is putting caps on chimney. She said it is a very easy thing to do. The cost depends on how elaborate the customer wants the cap.
Its just basically to keep the birds and the leaves and the squirrels and the raccoons out.
Harris said if she can let the animal go on the owners property it is a much better situation. If she has to take the animal off the property, it has to be euthanized within 12 hours.
If we can release them on the property it makes the animal happy and it makes me happy.
Harris said this is the time of year that fawning season is in full swing. She said 90 percent of the 150 fawns she has at her home were kidnapped by well-wishers who didnt understand what they were doing. She said she rarely gets a call from the N.C. Highway Patrol to save a fawn whose mother has been killed.
When people see them sitting alone in the woods, they assume they are abandoned. But they are not. The mother only comes around a couple of times a day to nurse the fawn. They are always within sight of their baby. So just leave it alone and the mother will return, Harris explained.
She said another myth people have is if they touch a baby animal the mother will abandon it.
Its an old wives tale and it isnt true. The maternal instinct is too strong. Its okay to pick up a baby bird and put it back in the nest, she said.
She said that baby possums can live in their mothers pouches for up to 12 hours after the mother dies, usually after being struck by a car. She said if people would just check the possum after they hit it to see if it has any babies, she can save the babies. She said to give her a call and she will come pick up the animal and rehabilitate the babies for free.
Harris get donations through She said all the money she makes as a damage control agent goes directly back into the rehabilitation side of her business.
She frequently gets calls from people who can no longer take care of exotic pets or from family members of people whose pets have outlived them.
People dont realize it, but an exotic bird can live for 150 years. Most of the time, they outlive their owners. People need to put provisions in their wills to have that pet cared for after they pass away, she said.
Harris mission is to improve the welfare of animals by reducing pet overpopulation, prevention of cruelty of animals and specifically the abandonment and euthanasia of animals through education and spay/neuter programs.
She is heavily involved in education. She frequently visits Camp Raven Knob and other boy scout groups, schools and churches trying to get her message out.
For more information call 786-5256 or 352-3586.
Contact Mondee Tilley at [email protected] or at 719-1930.

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