Does the animal really need help?
In general, if you can approach a wild animal and it does not run or fly away, it probably needs help. The animal needs to be brought to a wildlife rehabilitator if:
- It has open wounds
- It is bleeding
- It appears unable to use one of its legs or wings
- It has not moved in several hours
Before you intervene, please consider the following:
- Try to handle the animal as little as possible. Its body is probably already under a great deal of stress and we don’t want to make the animal more scared than it already is. In these situations, animals can literally be frightened to death.
- When transporting the animal, put it in a covered box and keep as quiet as possible. Do not speak loudly or play music or the radio.
- Be sure to make careful note of where you found the animal. Ideally, we would like to be able to put the animal back where we found it.
For species specific instructions, please follow the links below:
Is it safe to rescue the animal?
If is it safe for you, it is alright to intervene. Do not put yourself at risk to rescue an animal. Don’t climb trees, crawl onto roofs, wade into deep water, cross busy streets, or otherwise put yourself in jeopardy. You will not do the animal any favors by getting yourself hurt.
Wild animals do not like being rescued. They consider action on your part as an attack and will fight back vigorously. Some can cause considerable harm with their teeth or claws. Some can transmit diseases. Rabies, for example, is always a concern with raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, coyotes, and other carnivores.
Is there someone I can call for help?
In an emergency, please call City Wildlife at (202) 882-1000. We are open Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm. We will help direct you to the most appropriate organization for your situation. Please do not email us in the event of an emergency. Injured and sick animals often need urgent care and our delayed response time results in delaying the care that wildlife may need.
During off hours, please call DC Animal Care and Control at (202) 576-6664. We work closely with DCACC, the organization in the District of Columbia charged with picking up and transporting animals. City Wildlife does not have the extensive resources required to travel to pick up animals around the city.
If you have less urgent questions about who to contact or general questions regarding the rehabilitation of animals in the area, feel free to call us during open hours at (202) 882-1000 or email us at info@citywildlife.
In Montgomery County, call Montgomery County Animal Control at (240) 773-5900.
In Prince George’s County, call Prince George’s County Animal Management Field Services at (301) 780-7200.
In Northern Virginia, call the Wildlife Rescue League Hotline at 703-440-0800. Be sure to leave a message if no one answers immediately.
If you need to hold an animal for animal control officers:
- Larger animals may be confined by putting a box or laundry basket over it and a weight on top of the box.
- Smaller animals may be picked up with a towel or gloves and put in a box or paper bag. Never place an animal in a plastic bag.
- Keep injured or orphaned animals in a warm, quiet, and dark place away from family pets and children. Resist the urge to check in on the animal often or disturb it in any way. An injured animal is a stressed animal and stress can easily be fatal.
- Do not attempt to feed the animal or give it water. This often does more harm than good.
- If you are transporting an animal in a box or bag (for small birds only), use paper towels or strips of newspaper for padding.