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A Letter From The President of DHWS

30 April, 2010

Hello Friends of Dogue Hollow,

When we first became a nonprofit organization, I promised periodic e-mail updates of what's going on at Dogue Hollow. Unfortunately, I don't seem to be doing as good a job of communication as I intended. For that I apologize but won't make promises to do better in the future, especially at this busy time of year when the orphaned babies start coming in.

So far this year we have had 16 babies, ranging from 1 or 2 days old, and weighing about 2 ounces, to 3 weeks old and weighing 9 ounces. I wish I could tell you that all are doing well but, sadly, that is not the case.

At the beginning of April, the first babies, a little three day old family of five, arrived. They were in good condition and did all the things they were supposed to do: eat, pee, poop and sleep! There was no indication there was anything wrong with them until they had been with us several days. One morning, I found two dead. They had been well only hours before, at the 2am feeding. By the end of that day all five had died. And, from their symptoms, which I will not elaborate on, I knew what had killed them. They had been poisoned! And were probably the innocent victims of humans using rat poison pellets.

As if all that was not enough, a week later we had another three siblings who went through the same fate. This time I was able to talk with the home owner, where they had been found in his attic. He told me that two years ago he had put down rat pellets under and in his shed, after seeing rats and where mamma raccoon had often been seen. TWO YEARS AGO!!

Upset and confused, I called a good friend and colleague, Jerry Blondell, who recently retired from the EPA where he was a pesticide expert, for advice and hopefully, answers. He explained to me that many rat poisons have a delayed affect, and apparently rat poison is like plastic: it's deadly for a very long time. Two year old rat poison could certainly be the culprit.

I'm sure by now, some of you are asking why I would be relaying to you this gruesome tale. I tell you because I believe it's important to draw your attention to something many people do without thinking of the consequences. Just like rats, Mamma raccoon would have been drawn to the pellets because they are designed to taste good. There might not have been enough to kill her, but it was enough to kill her babies, through ingesting her milk. PLEASE, help me educate people and pass on the word that, if someone you know feels they must put down poison, make sure they place it where other animals cannot get to it, and clean up any left over pellets. Also, remember that if raccoons can get to the poison, so can your cats and dogs.

On a happier note, we have in our care, 6 healthy babies! 3 boys, 3 girls! All are little characters and so very cute. Also, Virginia decided to come home and have her first litter in one of the nest boxes we put up, mainly in trees, for the raccoons! She is such a good mother and is ferocious if any other raccoon comes anywhere near her temporary home and the 4 babies. As she grew up at Dogue Hollow, she gets very spoiled with room service: two meals a day and fresh water! I've attached some photos of Virginia's babies and others.

This spring we were planning to build another outdoor enclosure but discovered it cannot be done at this time as we have a weak culvert that our concrete guy says is not strong enough for his heavy truck to safely cross. Without a concrete base; no new raccoon proof enclosure. Bummer! So we went to Plan B, and used the money donated for the concrete, to enlarge one of our existing enclosures instead. The result is fabulous and much closer to the house which, after this last snowy winter, is a big plus! A big thank you to those of you who made that possible. And a big PLEASE! to those of you who have yet to contribute to our Sanctuary this year, for help. Each year we take in more raccoons than the previous year and without your help we will, at some point, have to say no! and that I dread. Please help us eliminate that possibility.

I thank you in anticipation of your generosity and for helping us make Dogue Hollow a success.

          Jenna Such, President
          Virginia State Licensed Rehabilitator
          Category IIA, License # 025982


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DHWS, POB 895, Lorton, VA 22199-0895
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