The Roanoker - May/June 2020 - 44

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events, places and faces
 Once a veterinarian joined their organization, Garvin and her
husband realized a larger, professional space was needed. They started
looking for properties in 2011, needing to stay in the area as they realized
people would not travel long distances for wildlife. They found their
perfect location in 2013 and opened in 2014; they have since treated over
2,000 patients a year, have two vets on staff (plus one part-timer twice a
month) and have treated over 250 species native to Virginia.
" I love this job, " Garvin says. " It's about many things - the
environment, the community, teaching people about their backyard
and helping those individual animals survive, and what it can do for
all of us. We can't save the world, but we can save this area and we're
working very hard at doing that and teaching the community why
wildlife is important. "
Wildlife includes everything from squirrels (the normal and flying
variety) and groundhogs to birds like hummingbirds and eagles. (Deer
or fawns are not allowed, per the legalities of the business.)
" The animals that come in are just gorgeous, " Garvin adds. " Each
one is exquisite, each one is so different, how they've adapted to their
habitat. When we're not busy, we stop and look in detail at these
animals and it's divine. "
The endeavor has not come without its challenges, including a legal
battle involving their property. A neighbor purchased their property
in 2017, complaining about property lines when Garvin attempted to

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build a larger cage for injured raptors (they can treat the birds,
but lack of space means they cannot relearn to fly, which is
critical in their rehabilitation process). At time of print, the case,
which Garvin's side won twice in the county courts, has been
appealed to the Richmond State Supreme Court, with second and
third lawsuits coming.
" The public has been my support system, " Garvin says. " They're
supporting us and with them behind us, I know I can't tell you
what that means to us. We're not here to hurt anyone; we're
nonprofit, we run on donations and we're here for the animals. No
nonprofit budgets for legal fees to defend you in court. "
The community has pitched in for fundraising, looking for
ways to support Garvin's team and the animals they rehabilitate.
While the process is far from over, at the end of the day, Garvin
knows her time and hard work must go into helping the wildlife.
And sometimes, that requires taking a second to admire the work
they're doing, as it's not a position everyone gets to experience.
" Sometimes you have to stop and say, 'look at this beautiful
creature we're helping,' " Garvin says. " Who else can say they've
held and cared for a hummingbird in their hands? "
For more information about Southwest Virginia Wildlife
Center (including how you can help or donate, or what to do if
you find injured wildlife), visit swvawildlifecenter.org.
			
-Liz Long

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http://www.swvawildlifecenter.org http://www.TheRoanoker.com

The Roanoker - May/June 2020

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