By Nicole Matheson
Lake Havasu City is an oasis in the desert, not just for humans but also for a diverse collection of wildlife. Such a population of feathered and furry friends occasionally requires human attention, specifically when they are faced with injury or adversity.
For more than 30 years, Havasu has had that human care to turn to – a duo of compassionate people dedicated to the care of wild animals and to each other. They are husband and wife team of 36 years Mark and Pam Short, a great resource to the Western Arizona Humane Society and to the community in general.
Knowledge For Caring
Having always had a love for animals, the Shorts began their work at the WAHS years ago, with a knack for helping rabbits and birds.
Today, they’ve seen all kinds of animals in need, but birds remain their specialty. Their many boarders are heard chatting excitedly in the background as RiverScene Magazine asks about the logistics of rehabilitating wild animals.
“I’m licensed federally and with the state, which you have to be in order to care for any wild animals,” Pam Short said. “To my knowledge, I’m the only one that is licensed in Mohave County.”
That means the Shorts keep busy with calls from the Humane Society, Arizona Game and Fish, and the police department to rescue animals, and not only in Lake Havasu.
They’ve had countless cases, some success stories and some heartbreak. But their resolve remains regardless, and they fondly remember the good rather than dwell on the bad.
Patience And Ingenuity
As the Shorts recount tales of rescues, one thing is clear — it takes patience and ingenuity to do what they do.
Currently in their care is a quail unable to stand, so they fashioned a sling for the animal to keep it upright, a technique they used before successfully. “It took about two months, but we were able to release him,” Pam Short said of a grackle, a common black bird, that faced a similar problem. They remain hopeful that the quail will recover the same.
Mark Short recalled a story about a burrowing owl at Cypress Park that they were able to help.
The owl had yarn knotted around its foot cutting off circulation, and it took days to catch it, and then rehabilitate for return to the park.
Sometimes, animals need placement at wildlife centers, or attention from veterinarians in Phoenix. Thankfully the Shorts are able to make those calls and arrange transportation for their winged patients.
How To Help
The Shorts work behind the scenes and prefer that concerned Havasuvians with an injured bird, rabbit, or any wild animal contact the WAHS for direction. And they advise not to take matters into one’s own hands. Often well-meaning people cause injury or harm to animals by providing the wrong kind of food, or by mishandling them.
Their important work may never be done and yet the Shorts are optimistic. Having many pets of their own, their compassion for animals is apparent and well needed.
They suggest any who come across a wounded or sick wild animal to please contact the Western Arizona Humane Society at 928-855-5083.