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Johnnie’s Story

Written by PETA | June 25, 2010

Meet Johnnie, a badly injured black-capped chickadee who was at least lucky enough to be found by a compassionate Illinois family that called us for advice. This young bird had a broken back. PETA caseworkers guided the family through safely containing Johnnie and made sure that he was rushed to a veterinarian for assessment. Johnnie’s injuries were terribly painful and debilitating, so the vet did right by him and quickly ended his suffering. Even though Johnnie couldn’t be saved, the family could rest assured that they did the right thing by not hesitating to help an animal in need.

You’d have to have a heart of stone to see a struggling fledgling or other small animal and not want to help. Of course, in most cases, letting the animal’s mother take care of business is exactly the right thing to do. If you see a bird or other small animal and wonder if he or she is in trouble, stand back, wait, and watch before doing anything. If the animal is alert, upright, and calm, then he or she is probably healthy and Mom is likely nearby. But if the animal is lethargic or has an obvious injury, like Johnnie, stay with the animal and call your local humane society, the SPCA, animal control, or a reputable wildlife rehabilitator for advice. If you still need help, contact PETA pronto!

Other birds need your help right now, like the grackles who are frequently poisoned in Odessa, Texas.

Our emergency tips will give you everything you need to know about helping injured wildlife.

Written by Jennifer O’Connor

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  • Sunflower says:

    One summer my husband and I saw a squirrel running in circles and up the side of the tree and falling off. Something was really wrong. We got the cat carrier out and my husband put on some thick gloves. We bought him to the vet. He said he had brain damage and had to put him down. I always say when and animal in need crosses my path I’ll help. God bless that little squirrel that I still remember.

  • carla says:

    My daughters and I were driving and saw an injured baby squirrel in the road … we blocked him w my car so that no one would hit him .. he was just running in circles. A man stopped and had a box and a blanket so we got him into the box and we took him to Central Animal hospital. We called the next day and they had released him into the woods! I had a lot of drivers yelling at me because we were in the middle of the road .. but I didn’t care. I kept my car there !!!

  • Mary J says:

    How did Johnie get a broken back? Was he attacked by a natural predator like a hawk? If so rescuing him was not right because you would be interfering with nature. But if he was hurt by a nonnatural predator like a cat or hurt by humans then the family did the right thing to have his suffering ended.

  • Lacey Knox says:

    I just put the Emergency Team number as a contact in my cell phone awesome work and keep it up!!

  • Linda says:

    I’m glad that family helped that little chickadee as best they could. There isn’t always a group around that can help. I live in one of the largest cities in the U.S. and last summer I tried to help an injured duck. I ended up calling numerous places and phone numbers because no one helped “fowl” until someone finally directed me to some individuals who volunteer their time and their own expenses to help out. In the meantime I sat outside for about 3 hrs in 105 degrees to watch over the duck until someone arrived. Turned out the duck had a broken wing and I was told he’d never be able to fly again but he went to a volunteer rescuer’s home where there were other ducks and was doing well last I heard. Thank goodness for the individuals who rescue ducks and other fowl!

  • Alexandra Dettloff says:

    I uses to live by a dirt road and a few years ago there was a rabbit in my backyard. I could see an open wound and so I went outside to look. When I got outside the rabbit couldn’t even hop away because it’s legs had been broken. I put some gloves on and brought it to my local vet who put the poor thing down. I remember crying as I looked into it’s eyes but I know I did the right thing.

  • shannon says:

    A few years ago I was in my parents’ neighborhood and saw some young women tending to an adult crow that had apparently been hit by a car. I called my brother to bring a box and a car and wrapped the crow in my shirt before putting him in the box and bringing him to the Humane Society’s Wild Animal Rescue counter. The next day I called to do a followup and they said the vets diagnosed him as having been hit on the head so he was given medication to help with that and was later released back into the wild. Thankfully he suffered no broken bones. If anything he was shaken up quite a bit.

  • Lauren Holt says:

    I just helped a bird in my garden. I helped him for an hour then popped him outside for his Mum. He flew away.

  • Courtney says:

    Reminds me sadly of the day I found a baby raccoon. I was driving and traffic was slowing down and stopping I thought someone had been hit. Turns out it was a wee raccoon on the road. So I jumped out and kinda manuevered him over to the side of the road. Long story short I made it to our Humane Society with another woman who stopped with a cardboard box to help. I was told he would be put down cause he was ill or injured he was acting strange and was out in the day..not good It broke my heart but I know that the right thing was done. I would’ve felt even more guilty if he had been HIT by a car or picked off by a bigger predator. I still think about that little guy all the time.