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B2B ID: Daveda Howe, founder and president, Urban Wildlife Rehabilitation Inc. in western Massachusetts

NAME: Daveda Howe

JOB TITLE, COMPANY: Founder and president, Urban Wildlife Rehabilitation Inc., serving western Massachusetts

WEBSITE: http://www.urbanwildliferehab.org/

AGE: 66


WHAT YOU DO: I provide medical care, food and shelter for injured, ill and orphaned wild, small mammals until they are healthy enough to return to their natural environment. I also conduct educational presentations to inform the public about the importance of wild animals, how to coexist with them and what to do for an animal in distress. In addition, I provide over-the-phone consultation, so the public has access to safe and humane alternatives to cope with wildlife issues. In 2012, we cared for 306 animals.

EXPERIENCE: In the 1980s and 1990s, I developed a homeless cat rescue operation and provided adoption advertisement services to Thomas J. O’Connor Animal Control and Adoption Center in Springfield. I ended this volunteer work in 2003 to focus on Urban Wildlife.

THE MARKET: Urban Wildlife is one of few facilities in western Massachusetts that provides wildlife rehabilitation services, particularly for rabies-vector species such as raccoons, skunks and foxes. Based in the highly urban Springfield area, I receive patients year-round, and the animals usually have nowhere else to go. Every year, the demand for wildlife rehabilitation services increases.

HOW YOU REACH OUT TO IT: I reach out through public education programs hosted at the Springfield facility and off-site at schools, community centers and larger public venues. I share the nature of my work, the mission of my organization and inform the public of ways that they can aid wild animals in need and create an environment in which we can coexist.

WHAT FINANCING HURDLES HAVE YOU FACED AND HOW HAVE YOU HANDLED THEM? It is a struggle to find new funding sources and to balance fundraising ventures with the demanding work of animal care. Wildlife rehabilitation has recently become eligible for animal welfare grants; however, the “nuisance” animals that I primarily treat are still not eligible for such funding. As a result, I rely heavily on gifts from individual donors and on my volunteers for fundraising.

KEY TO SUCCESS: My passion for helping animals and remaining positive, even when faced with heart-wrenching and stressful situations.

CHALLENGES: Finding dedicated volunteers, securing funding to continue rehabilitating wildlife and regularly maintaining the facility, so that it will last for another decade.

MISSTEP YOU LEARNED FROM: The hardest missteps that I have learned from are misdiagnoses or improper treatments that have resulted in fatalities. Wildlife rehabilitation is often a trial-and-error process, as less is known about wildlife biology and care compared to domestic animals. Once you make such a mistake, you are certain to never repeat it again.

WHAT OTHERS COULD LEARN FROM YOU: Others could learn how to open their hearts to nature by respecting and protecting wild animals. I believe that it is important to give back to our society as a whole, both human and nonhuman.

WHO HELPED MENTOR YOU PROFESSIONALLY: Kathleen McKendry, a longtime veterinary technician at Monson Small Animal Clinic, has taught me much of what I know about the veterinary field.

TOP GOALS FOR 2013: Maintaining smooth functioning of the organization and securing more funding. I would also like to expand Urban Wildlife Rehabilitation, Inc.’s education efforts.

ADVICE FOR OTHERS SEEKING BUSINESS SUCCESS: Do plenty of research. Start small, stay organized and slowly build your business.

PARTING THOUGHT: Stay positive, learn from your mistakes and don’t get discouraged.

B2B ID is compiled by Janice Beetle, owner of Beetle Press in Easthampton. Beetle Press offers writing, editing and graphic design services. www.beetlepress.com. To suggest a subject for B2B ID, email Beetle at beetlepress@charter.net.

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