Hayes Branch Animal Refuge, Inc

Rescue, Rehabilitation, and Release

                                               ​​2021   Spring is Here!

The Reason We Do

What We Do

Of course, it's the eyes that hook us!. But, the satisfaction of knowing that the animals we released had been given a second chance at a normal 'wild' life, is one of many reasons we kept doing it for so many years.

This little bat was quickly transfered to a rehabilitator who specialized in bats. We wanted to give him every opportunity to survive and thrive. If you don't know bat issues well, they can get into trouble very quickly.

Bobby Joe and her sister, Betty Joe were known as the Velcro twins. Anytime we would get near them, they would attach themselves. Detaching them was like trying to pull very strong Velcro apart. As they got older, they eventually became more independent and were successfully released.

Baby opposums are some of the most difficult to raise when they are tiny like this sleepy head. Not only does she not have her eyes open, but her mouth is also practically sealed shut. We know this is a little girl because girls will already have a pouch at this age.

This big snapper went to see the vet before being released. (Happily no fingers were lost in this, or any other rescue!)

We have rescued many injured Box turtles over the years, but they nearly all went to Indiana Turtle Care, where they received the best chance for survival. They have a gift for dealing with the special challenges created by the heavy shell.

Box turtle populations are dwindling. Please, when you see a turtle in the road,0 stop and move it to the side of the road in the direction it was heading. It is believed that Box turtles can live up to 100 years!

The Feeding Station

We release the raccoons in the tree line, between a prairie and a creek. There, we have erected a feeding station about 5 feet off the ground, with a viewing decking all the way around. And, right up next to trees where they can retreat if the need arises.

There will be food at the station every day for about 3-4 weeks. By that time, they have found other sources of food and have stopped returning. The food still disappears of course, so we start dropping back on the amount of food, to wean the moochers.

2020 (back to 2012) Season:​

Well, our sincere apologies! We have definitely been slacking off on updates. This may be some sort of record, but I'm getting off track. 

As you can see, we have chanced our name to reflect our shift in service to animals. Hayes Branch Wildlife Rehabilitation is now working as Hayes Branch Animal Refuge. While we still take wild animals in some circumstances, we get them assessed and on to other rehabbers and or veterinarians equiped to care for them. 

We have been taking on a problem that affects many communities, feral and abandoned cats. Here we have scores of dumped or lost cats who are wanting attention and love but are just too afraid to come near after so long on their own. We have spent a lot of time dedicating our efforts in befriending, showing patience and kindness to these little communities of cats in our area, in hopes of earning their trust. Luckily we have been quite successful! 

One of our more skittish, stubborn and prolific kitten mothers has finally turned a corner of trust with us!! We have been trying to catch "Momma Kitty" for about 8 years now. She has succeeded in evading and escaping every trap and catch devise ever patented. Ok, that might be a slight exaggeration, but you get the point. She knows exactly where/when to avoid an area regardless of how good the bribery spread of gourmet goodies smells. Although we have been at this for close to a decade, it feels like out-of-the-blue this past week, she started "asking us" for things and attempting to get closer. She was toying with the idea of coming in the house when we were bringing in groceries or coming inside after working in the yard. Then on about the 4th day of this behavior, she finally took the leap and walked inside with us on a trip in from the yard like she had been doing this her whole life! Amazing!

This is the second day of Momma Kitty following us into the house. I think she's finally figured out we aren't going to hurt her. (It only took 8 years) This is also the first time I have been able to touch her without her bolting like being shot out of a cannon! AND, it's the first time I've heard her purr, EVER, and fall asleep with us next to her. We're going to give her a few weeks inside before we take her to our Vet and get her fixed.​

Here are a few of our rescues over the last few years. Ms. Kelly (on the left) looking as majestic as she pleases. In the upper right we have Itty-bitty napping and oblivious to the world. In the middle right is Ms. Sophie with Itty-bitty giving her mom a playful "boop". The bottom right is taken up by two rambunctious goofballs we like to call Trapper and Hawkeye. These two were found by caring neighbors who stopped for them. They were huddled together on a country road around 10 pm last February, in -10 degree weather. They were only about 2 months old at that time and most likely wouldn't have survived the night.  

Looking a bit shy in the upper left is Streusel. He's timid but adores lap time! In the upper right, Mr. Meow-gi (in the gray fluff) and Bridget (in the regal black) are napping, slash supervising the yard work for the afternoon. In the bottom right Groucho is checking to see that the camera focus is properly on him and in the bottom left, because we can't ever have enough Angel pictures, is Angel spending a bit of quality time with "mom" on a lazy Saturday. FYI, Angel turned 12 this past April 2020, my how time flies!

This batch of goofy nuts have claimed us as their own. Here we have Ms. Annie in the upper left. I'm not sure what to say in her defense, she's a quirky little bean. Quinn, on the right, expressing his innocence to whatever may or may not be going on. And in the bottom left is Duke, who absolutely unequivocally adores toys or anything that could possibly be construed as a toy, ie. blankets, milk jugs, carpet remnants, dog beds, etc., you get the point!

Jasper is the handsome gentleman in the top left. He was given to us by a loving family friend, due to the fact he was not so loving to his bird "brother," and needed to find a forever home. Wa-la! He found us. There is a lot going on in the top right! Lady Snortingham (previously known as Polly) is doubling as a comfy lounge area for Mini-Momma waving with the blue collar and Bunny-Bunny resting against her belly. Ms. Moo-shu, is ignoring everyone and getting a morning snack in the background. Both the pot bellied pigs were rescues, a year apart. Moo-shu's previous mom, found out she had terminal cancer just a few weeks after they found each other. Lady Snortingham was part of a large rescue effort to re-home 500+ pigs from a bad situation in KY. The two boys in the Lower left were buddies that were running amuck in our area and we were able to find their parents and get them home safe and sound. After, a few frantic days of knocking on doors and checking with our local veterinarians, county animal control, animal shelters, sheriffs office, neighbors, grocery stores, post offices, radio stations with pet lost and found AND PAWS of Dearborn County on FB. Whew! Middle bottom, Moo-shu wanted her few minutes of fame and came to greet me with her sidekick beautiful Schnitzel. And in the bottom right we have Joey! He was a sad scared little fella that showed up in our tiny village because his previous owners, while driving through here, stopped their car, set him on the road and then quickly drove off. Luckily folks in town saw what happened and brought him to us. We were on-top-of-the-world excited that a local veteran adopted him, got him into training and he is now their companion Service Dog!! We are able to visit with him some, watch him learn new things, and grow into the amazing fella he is today.

We are blessed to help so many animals, but we have also had heartbreaking moments and seasons. While we are always grateful and will continue this work, it can be gut-wrenching when we lose a life, whether due to old age, accident, injury or illness. It never gets easier. That being said, we would still like to honor their little lives by sharing them with you. ....

These are a few that have passed, and I'm sure there will be others in the future. Regardless, we will continue to try and love each of them, find them loving homes and/or get them into the hands of rehabilitators and veterinarians to give them a quality of life they wouldn't have had otherwise.

2011 Season:

Our first calls of the season are nearly always about raccoon or opposum babies. This year our first call was actually about a juvenile, male raccoon who had recently been rescued from an unfortunate situation.

The harness, of course, will come off and he will need to gain some weight while he learns to adapt to a more suitable habitat. When he's released, we'll show him the creek and the feeding station and he'll be on his way.

Thank you, Alisha!

5/30/11 Release day came on May 30th. He was very anxious to check everything out...the rock walls, the trees, the creek, and all the different tastes and sounds.

Caught a crawdad on the first try, climbed to the top of a tree and came back down like a pro. We catch a glimpse of him at the feeding station occasionally, but he's happy to keep his distance.

These youngsters (below) lost their Momma when they were about four weeks old. Three boys and one little girl have all summer to fatten up before they are released sometime this fall. So funny how that towel acted as a 'trap' until they finally realized the grass wouldn't hurt them! (A blanket worked the same way with my infant son.)

7/3/11 This crew is putting on the weight quickly and has gotten big enough for the outdoor enclosure. They have all practiced 'Tree Climbing 101' and love the big hollow log we gave them.

Thank you for caring enough to get them to HBWR, Rita and Family!

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Season 2010:

Meet Gronkle

Bad weather is often detrimental to wildlife nests and the new babies clinging to them. This little boy survived the initial fall from his tree, the overnight wet and cold, as well as the trip from the wooded lot to the back porch of a nearby home in the mouth of a cat who gently delivered him to the doorstep of his family. Re-hydrated, dry, and warm he seems to be doing well, back on a milk replacement formula and behaving normally. Gronkle arrived on March 27. He is about 3-4 weeks old, since the eyes are not yet opened, his body is about 5.5" long, and weighs in at a hefty 3 5/8


Gronkle is a Sciurus niger, commonly known as the Fox Squirrel, which is the largest type of tree squirrel native to North America. He will sleep at night and spend much of his day on the ground, gathering and storing food in multiple locations. As an adult, Gronkle's diet will consist mostly of tree nuts, buds, fruits, grains, bird egg's, lizards, insects, and small snakes. Although his belly and tail are red, Gronkle should not be mistakenly referred to as a Red Squirrel. The Red squirrel is smaller, has a shorter tail, and they have a white or cream belly.

4/1/10 - Yeah! Gronkle's eyes opened today. They were just little peep-slits at his first feeding. But they were both wide open for lunch.

4/4/10 - Gronkle weighed in today at 5 ounces and celebrated Easter with a new soft, fuzzy, stuffed puppy to cuddle next to when he sleeps.

4/9/10 - In the past 5 days, Gronkle has had his first check-up with the doctor and gained 2 ounces. His diet has increased to a small amount of solid foods along with his bottle.

4/14/10 - Gronkle is eating well and now up to 9 ounces. He is showing a little more interest in the solid foods, but hasn't let up on the bottle.

4/20/10 - Gronkle is eating more of the solid foods now, and doesn't seem quite as hungry when I bring his bottle. He's more interested in playing and sleeping and is just about ready to move to a larger cage.

5/20/10 - Gronkle is now in a large pen. Completely weaned and stashing food in all sorts of nooks and crannies, as expected. Although the old nesting box went into the larger cage, Gronkle much prefers the hollow log. 

Thank you to Dawn and her cat!

Meet The Triplets

One little boy (in the center, of course) and his two sisters were orphaned when they were just about 3 weeks old. Tony, Telma, and Joyce (because they use their vocal abilities so effectively when they're hungry) after the 70's group, Tony Orlando and Dawn.

Tony already had his eyes wide open, but his ears were still tucked a bit. The girls never got to see their Mom but they knew immediately that I was a very poor substitute.

We've since come to some kind of an understanding, but they keep changing the rules on me. Everyone has full use of their senses now, which I can only guess makes it easier for them to plot against me. I believe that's exactly what they were doing in this picture!

Thank you for caring enough to get them to HBWR, John!

Meet The 'Possum Clan

Seven juvenile opossums came to us in July after their momma was hit by a car. In their transition cage here, they acclimated to the local sounds and smells and then, when it was time, we opened a not too noticeable hole where they could come and go as they pleased. An opossum matures much quicker than many small mammals and you can almost see them growing, if you stare at them for any length of time. If not for their small size when only six weeks old, they certainly have the gumption to make it on their own. However, they do need size to have any real chance, and that takes at least twelve weeks. We try to hold off a few more weeks beyond that, whenever possible.

Thank you to Connie & Bill, for your thoughtful rescue!

2010 Season Review

Well, our original plan was to post a picture of each rescue as they arrived. Somehow, we failed to recall, from every single previous year, the chaos that sets in and the schedule you had so carefully devised goes right down the toilet! So, despite our best intentions, we failed to get the pictures posted. New plan. In the future, we will try to get a few pictures up during the season (March – September), but will most likely publish a Season Review with pictures and stories after we’ve released the patients.

This year, being shorthanded due to the deployment of our fearless leader to Iraq, we were forced to cut back on the number of animals we could care for properly. Our final tally:

Deer – 4            Opossum – 9            Raccoon – 9

Skunk – 1          Squirrel – 1              Box Turtle – 1

The turtle was ultimately transferred to Indiana Turtle Care for special treatment of severe injuries. Unfortunately, even with our best efforts, we can’t always save every baby. We lost 5 this year, but released 19, nearly all of them on our farm. We continue to put food out for all the releases in their opened ‘acclimation’ pens for a few weeks. They come back to say hello and eat every day for a week or two. Then they start skipping days until we just don’t see them at all, but the food disappears over night, of course. Within a month, we start cutting back on the food, to make certain they learn to depend on themselves before winter. If they are having problems doing that, they know where to come if they need a little help. In ten years, we’ve only had a couple return in mid-winter for just a day or two, until they got their strength back and then they were gone again.

Tony checks out the fishing hole near his feeding station on the day he was released.

Gronkle was pacing his cage to get out and see what all those trees had to offer.

This brother & sister were rescued

from a tree cutting project.

Twiggy had to have a broken leg repaired before we started her rehab. On release day, she just had to go visit with Shadow, our Paint, before checking out the acorns

on the hillside.

7/7/11 I didn't have the camera with me, but I think Twiggy stopped by to see me today. She came close, sniffed my hand, then wandered on up the hillside.

Thank you to all those who took the time to care!