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When Pets Attack Wildlife - A Three Part Series



Shirley Casey, Mackenzie Goldthwait, DVM, and Nancy Kelly



This is a three-part series of papers that were published in NWRA's Wildlife Rehabilitation Bulletin, Fall, 2013. They address a variety of challenges of pet attacks on wild animals. The papers may useful for wildlife rehabilitators and veterinarians. These papers and others on wildlife rehabilitation also are available directly from NWRA at

Part 1 - What Can Happen (click here for PDF)


Millions of wild animals are chased, captured, and harmed by domestic pets each year. This paper describes a variety of wild animal health problems that can be found after such pet attacks, whether directly related to the pet or to conditions that may have occurred before or after the pet encounter. Graphics and photographs of birds, mammals and turtles illustrate possible problems.


Part 2 - What to Do (click here for PDF)


Many wild animals are admitted to rehabilitation as a result of capture and injury by cats and dogs. Review of published literature, as well as discussions with veterinarians and wildlife

Domestic Cat Face.jpg

rehabilitators, often focuses on use of antibiotics to address potential infections resulting from exposure to bacteria in the pet’s mouth. This paper offers some reminders to identify the full suite of possible conditions, to assess if the wild animal is able to survive and be released, and to consider a range of possible treatment options—rather than automatically turning to antibiotics as a solution when antibiotics may not be appropriate nor the only option. Extensive resource list.


Part 3 - Talking with the Owner (click here for PDF)


Rehabilitators receive many calls about wild animals that have been injured by domestic pets. This paper describes some considerations to enhance the effectiveness of those conversations.

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