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Ohio Wildlife Center comes to the rescue of animals in need

By jim Published: April 20, 2009

A sick squirrel or wounded rabbit might draw out the nurturing side in many people, but few have the knowledge to care for an animal in distress.

The folks at the Ohio Wildlife Center do.

For the past 25 years, the center has aided creatures statewide - providing medical care for ill, injured or orphaned wild animals; and, more recently, sponsoring educational programs and a hot line.

"Our initial vision was to promote and foster an appreciation and awareness of Ohio's native wildlife," said veterinarian Don Burton, who founded the organization in 1984 at a North Side garage and continues to guide it as the unpaid executive director.

"We're gaining ground, but the problems for wildlife are growing. The heavier the traffic, the more animals are smashed along the road."

The nonprofit charity, whose $650,000 annual budget comes from private donations, will kick off a series of anniversary celebrations Thursday with WildNite for Wildlife, a yearly fundraiser at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

In recent years, its Northwest Side hospital has treated an average of 4,500 critters a year from about 40 Ohio counties.

Yet the facility remains littleknown.

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