Animal Ambulance and Leiden Bird Shelter are happy to have enthusiastic volunteers

General interview

In 2021, the counter is 4,966 trips with animal ambulances and 3,799 ‘wild’ animals, mostly birds. These numbers already indicate that it is always busy at Dierenambulance & Vogelasiel Regio Leiden, located at Draadbaan 14 in Leiderdorp.

By: Margaret Hillbrandt

The organization has three paid coordinators, but still relies on more than a hundred enthusiastic volunteers. They run the center where reports of animals in distress come in, out with animal ambulances, keep equipment in high order and care for the birds. There is one thing in common: they love animals.

The ambulance has just arrived in Vogelasiel. Exit: Lyselotte Rambonnet and Jessalyn Hulswelder. In the cage is a little blackbird that fell out of the nest and was caught by a cat. Bernard Niederveen receives the blackbird. Fortunately, the damage is minor. A small hole in the back – which can be easily sewn on – is a reminder of the four-legged friend. Care, love, attention and comfort help the blackbird to get back on its feet, or rather, in the air.

Liselotte is an ambulance driver and has been with the organization for five years. As a biologist and researcher, her research into animal ambulances inspired her to volunteer.

Ghislaine, an animal ambulance officer, studied biomedical sciences. She is very interested in animals and volunteered to start Halo. For example, working from home stopped being an enjoyable and beneficial way during that time.

Bernard works fortnightly on Wednesday evenings at the animal ambulance and every Thursday at the bird sanctuary. He came from the Groningen countryside from a family of many animals and moved to Leiden for his work.

When asked how he knows so much about birds and other animals, he replies that it is about Learning on the job. He started two years ago and can now call himself a great. In addition to providing medical care and treatment, he also performs coordinating duties.

Pleasure and satisfaction

These volunteers have a full-time job in addition to their volunteer work, but this does not apply to all volunteers. Everyone has their heart in the right place. They get a lot of pleasure and satisfaction from this work. “It’s very diverse. No notification is the same. All animals receive the same attention and love.”

Sometimes you encounter painful things, Bernard says: “People love animals, but sometimes things get out of hand, like a police report about a man on a houseboat with fifteen neglected cats. They had to be caught and taken for treatment.”

Hit the towel

There are also regular funny or crazy incidents. Liselotte: “We got a report of a dog or cat that hit and ran on the highway. Later it turned out to be a towel hit.”

Bernard was present when a bird of prey was reported in Leiden. A bit strange in the city centre. However, the ambulance left all the necessary precautions: a large bird of prey enclosure, gloves and face protection. When they arrive they find an overturned bucket on the street with a group of children and the lady who called them. “Where are the birds? Not under that bucket, right?” “Yes,” was the reply, “And he has very big claws.” When the bucket was lifted, it turned out that a dove was sitting under it. The lady still thinks it’s a bird of prey.

Another report of a lizard found with a corresponding photo at very close range turned out to be not a meter, but only ten centimeters.

The stories are interrupted by another report of a dog. Liselotte and Ghislaine quickly leave with the ambulance.

too small

The bird sanctuary is currently home to a number of orphaned baby ducks, pigeons, blackbirds and seagulls. When the birds recover, they return to their own habitat. place of discovery. The current site of the sanctuary is actually very small. Reserves have been built for new construction, but there is still enough and a suitable site is still being sought.

The animal ambulance and bird sanctuary are funded through gifts and donations. For example, the heating tanks at the Bird Sanctuary were acquired through crowdfunding. There is a close collaboration with De Wulp, a large specialist bird sanctuary in The Hague. Strong birds, who have to learn to fly again, go there, as do waterfowl, because they have ponds there.

Get your pet groomed

When it comes to pets, there is of course a lot of contact with the shelter in Noordwijk and Stevenshage. Dogs must be microchipped, while cats do not, but this often happens in practice. Volunteers are appealing to people to keep the registry up to date. In this way, owners of pets picked up by an animal ambulance can be tracked quickly. The volunteers have another request for the public: Don’t leave litter where birds can get entangled.

Volunteers are welcome

New volunteers are always welcome at Dierenambulance & Vogelasiel Regio Leiden. According to General Coordinator Erwin Havemann, there is currently a special need for additional assistants at the power plant. In the summer, when it gets busier, a second ambulance is deployed and volunteers are also needed for that. A comprehensive induction process is ensured internally. Medical knowledge is not necessary. Good common sense.

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