Austin-area animal rescue center raises $15K to buy new x-ray machine

An opossum and her babies were brought to the Austin Wildlife Rescue rehab center in Elgin after she broke her leg last week on a fence in South Austin

The opossum needed surgery, but first she needed a trip to the rescue's intake location several miles away in Austin for an x-ray. A similar trip was scheduled for a turkey vulture, with a busted wing and leg. 

The journeys are not easy, according to operations manager Jules Maron. "The higher the stress, the more stress on the system, the slower the healing of the body can take place," said Maron.

X-rays are needed not only to find broken bones. Scans on snakes can locate things like golf balls and avocado pits.

"So our x-ray machine is pretty one of our most critical equipment that we have here at the facility. It allows us to do literally lifesaving surgeries here at our facility, because when we're doing orthopedic surgery, which is probably the most common catastrophic injury that we get on animals, we are needing to see what the placement of the pins look like once we have them situated within the bone. And currently we're not able to do that," said Maron.

The wildlife rescue is being rescued after a call for help on social media. The $15,000 needed to buy a new x-ray machine was raised in a matter of days.

"It's amazing knowing that the community wants to be here to help, too, and that they're able to help us so generously. And we so appreciate it," said Maron.

An example of how expensive caring for the animals is a stack of buckets filled with animal baby formula at the center. The first load of the season cost $20,000. Another shipment will be needed later in the year for the fall baby season.

There are already a lot of hungry babies because the spring rescue season came early. Nests were damaged by the February ice storm. About 100 squirrels and rabbits are in incubators. Owls and other birds are also being cared for, as well as turtles with broken shells. 

There are three Texas Ring Tail Cats being nursed back to health. They are special arrivals, according to care tech River Alaimo.

"Because you never see them in the wild because they're so, like, elusive and like, nocturnal," said Alaimo.

It's estimated the wildlife rescue receives 10,000 animals each year. "You can definitely make a difference just by donating. You'll be saving lots of lives," said Alaimo.

Even donations of towels and cleaning supplies like bleach are needed. "I can't even begin to describe the laundry that is the bane of our existence here. It just goes on forever," said Maron.

Next month an online sign-up to volunteer opens up. That work requires four training classes. 

The donations for the new x-ray, however, may be the rescue's biggest rescue of the year.