Imagine finding a great horned owl trapped in a barbed wire fence. Would you know what to do? Without being freed, the owl will die, but trapped, wild animals can often be dangerous. Luckily for Regina Molitoris, who found the owl, her mother, Lesia Machicao, DVM, is one of the experienced veterinarians at VCA Old River in Tracy, CA. With Dr. Machicao’s help, Regina and her fellow Venturers were able to save the life of the magnificent owl.

Regina, a high school junior, is President of BSA Venturing Crew 942, a co-ed scouting group through the Boy Scouts of America. The crew has chosen wildlife conservation in the South Livermore Valley as its area of focus. Dr. Machicao, who lives on a ranch with her family and considers herself a wildlife enthusiast, is the crew’s Adult Advisor. 

Regina happened to be caring for the family’s sheep on the ranch when she spotted the owl this past November.

Dr. Machicao and VCA Old River Veterinary Technician Carina Driscoll were on the phone with Regina from the moment she discovered the owl trapped in the fence.

“Regina is a well-trained Venturing Scout, but as the Adult Advisor for the Crew, my main duty is to make sure they do things safely,” explains Dr. Machicao. “A wild animal, especially a trapped one, can be dangerous and I did not want Regina to get hurt, so we advised her to keep her distance and do nothing to agitate the owl.”

Dr. Machicao instructed Regina to call Animal Control since they had the correct equipment to free Hooty. Regina assisted Animal Control, but kept her distance. The owl, who is affectionately called Hooty by Crew 942, was safely freed and put into a large animal carrier. On the advice of her mother, and with the assistance of fellow Venturer Adam Tufts, Regina transported Hooty to the Lindsay Wildlife Rehabilitation Hospital.

“Since I was seeing patients during the rescue, Carina was on the phone continuously with Regina, and later Regina and Adam,” says Dr. Machicao. “VCA Old River played a critical role in keeping the two Venturers safe.”

VCA Old River has a relationship with Lindsay Wildlife Rehabilitation Hospital, referring all wildlife cases to them. Lindsay is a volunteer-based organization, providing free veterinary care to native California wildlife. 

Hooty underwent two surgeries to remove the barbed wire and metal fragments imbedded in his bones. He has made excellent progress under Lindsay’s care, and they plan to release him back into the South Livermore Valley in a few weeks. Hooty’s release will take place at Dr. Machicao’s ranch with Venturing Crew 942 in attendance.

Dr. Machicao is proud of her daughter’s quick thinking and swift action, which saved Hooty’s life. She is also proud of Crew 942. Inspired by Hooty’s rescue, the crew is planning to build and hang nest boxes for owls in the South Livermore Valley area. 

“Some of the crew members had been wondering if they can really make a difference in conservation,” says Dr. Machicao. “Now with this experience, they know they can.”

Thank you, Dr. Machicao for your commitment to the community through your volunteer work with Venturing Scouts, and along with Carina and Regina, your lifesaving efforts on behalf of Hooty the owl!
“Inspired by Hooty’s rescue, Venturing Crew 942 is planning to build and hang nest boxes for owls in the South Livermore Valley area. ”