Kristin Allen of Nurture to Nature Wildlife Rehabilitation Center received a fawn in May that was injured in a farm accident. Two broken legs meant the deer’s chance of survival was minimal, but Allen said she was willing to fight if the deer, whom she named Victor, was willing to fight.
Only the second deer she had taken in with two broken legs, Allen said Victor beat the odds.
“That’s the beautiful thing about animals,” she said. “They heal quickly.”
Within three weeks of placing the splints, Allen had Victor walking again, although unsteady due to muscle weakening. But another two weeks and Victor was able to join Allen’s other 11 deer in rehabilitation in her outdoor enclosure.
Allen said most rehabilitators would have chosen to euthanize a deer with Victor’s injuries.
“Most don’t have a vet that will work with them,” she said, giving credit to her veterinarian, Nathan Kunze of Audubon Animal Hospital.
Victor runs like all of the other fawn in Allen’s care, only identifiable by the purple collar around his neck. But Allen admits that he has a special place in her heart because of the special care he needed in her home while splinted.
“I love the underdog,” she said.
Most often Allen takes in deer with leg injuries, head trauma from a car accident or orphaned fawn, which are all reasons the 12 deer in her care came to her. She expects to accept 5 to 10 more deer before she releases them all back into the wild in October.
Allen said she releases the animals on private property where hunting isn’t permitted. Until then, she bottle feeds each of the deer twice a day and they eat grass within their enclosure. With the extreme heat, Allen also treats the deer to watermelon, donated by Trunnells Farm Market, to keep them hydrated.
But deer are not all Allen is currently rehabbing. Under her care are one skunk, 26 opossums, one squirrel and 15 racoons — a small amount compared to what she usually has, she said.
Allen founded her nonprofit nine years ago and has helped care for wild animals that are injured, orphaned or in need, with the ultimate goal of returning them to nature. Allen estimates that she has returned thousands of animals back into the wild that wouldn’t have survived without her knowledgeable care.
She said there is a shortage of rehabbers in the Kentucky. In Daviess County there is only one other, but she only cares for squirrels, Allen said. The closest others are in McLean County.
“Some days we can’t breathe,” she said of her and fellow rehabbers who are often overwhelmed with animals.
The International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council will hold a class in November in Bowling Green to help those in the region interested in rehabbing. Allen said 42 attended the class last year, but only seven began rehabilitating animals.
“We need more rehabbers,” she said. “I want to walk hand in hand with anyone interested in doing this. I want them to learn from all of my mistakes.”
Allen said she believes saving wild animals is her calling.
“I know from the beginning they’re not mine,” she said. “My ultimate goal is they need to be wild.”