How a "Domestic" Animal Shelter Can Help Save Wild Lives


Sarah Dykeman, Animal Care Attendant, Guelph Humane Society
June Yang BSc MSc, Adoption Program Coordinator, Guelph Humane Society

While animal shelters are primarily involved in the welfare of domestic species, members of the public will still contact these organizations seeking assistance for sick, injured or orphaned native wildlife. Though animal shelters may lack the resources and expertise to provide long-term care and rehabilitation services for wildlife, the community still expects that an animal shelter should be able to provide assistance, regardless of the species.

In 2016, the Guelph Humane Society (GHS) established a Wildlife Committee to help with the temporary care and transfer of native wildlife to licensed rehabilitators. The committee, comprised of dedicated staff with varying levels of wildlife knowledge, admitted 638, 852 and (to date) 959 individual wildlife species in 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively. Through ongoing training, GHS has seen success in the live release rate of transferred wildlife to rehabilitators and release, which has increased from 13 per cent in 2015, to more than 50 per cent in 2017.


  1. An overview of the protocols and procedures implemented to make a wildlife transfer program a success.
  2. The challenges in the temporary housing and care of various wildlife.
  3. How to successfully build relationships with wildlife rehabilitators.


Sarah Dykeman has been around animals her entire life and has always had a passion for their care and conservation. From life on the farm as the daughter of a large animal veterinarian, to working at a small animal clinic, zoos, parks, a wildlife rehab and now as an animal care attendant at the Guelph Humane Society, she continues to look for ways to expand upon her knowledge and experience in the field of animal care. She has completed her BSc in Zoology and MSc in Animal Behaviour and Welfare at the University of Guelph and has used her passion and background to help implement and improve the wildlife care initiatives at the Guelph Humane Society.

June Yang has worked in animal shelters for three years, but has been actively involved in wildlife rehabilitation and zookeeping for over a decade. She has received training through IWRC & OWREN , and in 2012 was a finalist for the New Noah Fellowship. June has assisted in the training and protocol development for wildlife programs at two animal shelters, and is currently the Adoption Program Coordinator at Guelph Humane Society.