In 2021, the counter was 4,966 trips with animal ambulances and 3,799 “wild” animals recorded for most birds. These numbers already indicate that it is always occupied in the Leiden Animal Aid and Bird Shelter District, located at Drabban 14 in Leiderdorp.
Written by: Margaret Hilbrandt
The organization has three paid coordinators, but is also led by more than a hundred enthusiastic volunteers. They run the center where reports of animals in distress come in, set out with animal ambulances, keep equipment in high order and look after the birds. There is one thing in common: they love animals.
The ambulance has just arrived at Vogelasiel. Exits: Licelot Rambonet and Jeslin Holswelder. In the cage there is a small blackbird that fell out of the nest and was caught by a cat. Bernard Niedervin receives the blackbird. Fortunately, the damage is minor. A small hole in the back – easily sewn in – is a keepsake of the four-legged friend. Care, love, attention and comfort help the blackbird to stand on its feet, or rather in the air.
Lislotte is an ambulance driver and has been associated with the organization for five years. As a biologist and researcher, her research into animal ambulances inspired her to volunteer.
Ghislaine, an animal rescue worker, studied biomedical sciences. She is very interested in animals and registered as a volunteer at the beginning of Corona. For example, stop working from home in a fun and useful way during that time.
Bernard works Wednesday evenings every two weeks in the animal ambulance and every Thursday at the bird sanctuary. He came from the Groningen countryside from a family with many animals and moved to Leiden for his business.
When asked why he knows so much about birds and other animals, he replied that it is about Learning on the job. He started two years ago and can now call himself big. In addition to care and medical procedures, he also performs coordination tasks.
Pleasure and satisfaction
These volunteers have a full-time job in addition to their volunteer work, but this does not apply to all volunteers. All their hearts are in the right place. They got a lot of pleasure and satisfaction from this job. “It is hugely diverse. No message is the same. All animals are given the same attention and love.”
Sometimes you encounter horrific things, says Bernard: “People love animals, but sometimes things get out of hand, like a police report about a man in a houseboat with as many as fifteen neglected cats. They had to be caught and taken care of.”
hit the towel
There are also regular funny or crazy accidents. Lislotte: “We received a report of a dog or cat falling on the highway. Later it turned out that it was a successful towel.”
Bernard was present when there was a report of a bird of prey in Leiden. A bit strange in the city center. However, the ambulance left all necessary precautions: a large container for raptors, gloves and face protection. On their arrival they found an overturned bucket on the street with a group of children and the lady who called them. “Where is the bird? Not under that bucket?” The reply was “Yes,” “And it has very big claws.” When raising the bucket, it turned out that the pigeon was sitting under it. The lady still thought it was a bird of prey.
Another report on a lizard that was found with an accompanying photo from a very close distance, it turned out to be not a meter, but only ten centimeters.
The stories were interrupted by another report from a dog. Lislott and Ghislaine quickly leave in the ambulance.
The bird sanctuary currently houses a number of baby ducks, pigeons, blackbirds and gulls. When the birds recover, they return to their own environment. search location. The current location of the shelter is actually quite small. Reserves are built for new construction, but there is not enough yet and the search for a suitable site continues.
The Animal Ambulance and Bird Shelter are funded through gifts and donations. For example, the heat boxes at the bird shelter were acquired through crowdfunding. There is a close collaboration with De Wulp, a large specialized bird sanctuary in The Hague. Hardened birds, who must learn to fly again, go there, as waterfowl do, because they have ponds there.
Have your pet peeled
When it comes to pets, there are of course a lot of connections with shelters in Noordwijk and Stevenshage. Dogs must be cut down, and cats are not obligated to do so, but this often happens in practice. Volunteers invite people to keep the registration updated. In this way, pet owners collected by the animal ambulance can be quickly tracked down. Volunteers have another request for the public: don’t leave trash that birds might get involved in.
We welcome volunteers
New volunteers are always welcome in the Leiden region for Animal Aid and Bird Shelter. According to General Coordinator Erwin Huffman, there is currently a need for additional assistants at the power plant. In the summer, when it gets busier, a second ambulance is deployed and volunteers are needed for that as well. Internally, a thorough induction process is ensured. Medical knowledge is not necessary. Well, common sense.
General information: www.dierenambulanceleiden.nl