ROCKINGHAM — Tessie Caulder and her daughter, Alley Jo Baldwin, are hosting a bake sale from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sat. at Aunt Tessie’s Pet Boutique in Rockingham. Proceeds will be applied to the costs of rehabilitating wild animals.
Baldwin, 12, said she came up with the idea while helping Caulder with a pair of fawns whose mother was killed in a collision.
“It will help pay the veterinary bills,” she said.
Caulder said it is illegal for people to take wild animals to their homes — but she holds a state wildlife rehabilitation permit that allows her to take temporary responsibility for injured or orphaned animals such as fawns.
“A lot of people see them and think they’re cute,” she said. “And they’ll go an pick them up and take them home and then they realize, ‘I don’t know how to take care of them. I don’t know how to keep them alive.’ I’ve seen people feed them cow milk, which is a no-no.”
Caulder said fawns, squirrels and possums do better with goat’s milk — and people don’t realize that what they don’t know can lead to the death of these wild creatures.
“A lot of the animals we get come from people who were riding down the road and saw a cute deer, picked it up and took it home,” she said. “And it winds up on social media. And I’ll normally get tagged in it, or it will get sent to my inbox or my cell phone. And we’ve got game wardens here who go and pick them up and bring them to me.”
Caulder said the best thing people can do after finding wild animals that appear to be abandoned is to contact the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.
“You can call them or go online,” she said. “You can go online and find my name listed there as well.”
Caulder explained that rabies vector animals cannot be legally rehabilitated in North Carolina. These animals include foxes, raccoons and skunks.
Baldwin, who helps Caulder at the pet boutique, said the expenses her mother has incurred from rehabilitating wild animals and caring for injured or abandoned domestic animals can get high quickly.
“So that’s why I’m doing this, to help her pay the vet bills down,” Baldwin said.
Caulder said she is proud of her daughter for the work she has put in toward making the bake sale happen.
“We’re not required by law to have any of our wildlife vetted,” she said. “However, me being me, I take them to a vet. Cooley’s is my vet of record on my wildlife license. If I get an animal that’s been hit by a car the first thing I’m doing is taking it to the vet. Last year cost me thousands out-of-pocket.”
Caulder said the pet boutique is her primary means of funding her wildlife rehabilitations. She said donations from people have also helped.
“I’ve had people drop off goat milk,” she said. “We can always use dog food, new baby bottles and puppy pads. People are always welcome to drop off donations here anytime we are open.”
For more information, call 910-719-2411.
Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.