This year alone, Samantha Boyd has taken care of close to 600 babies. 

Boyd, a Veterinary Technician at VCA Veterinary Referral and Emergency Center of Westbury and a New York State (NYS) Wildlife Rehabber, spends most of her free time helping rehabilitate young wildlife – everything from squirrels and birds to possums and moles. 

“I've been rescuing wildlife my whole life, since I was a child,” says Boyd. Then once she became a vet technician 33 years ago, she got more involved as people would bring in various animals to the hospital. “I would always take them home and raise them, because there's just nowhere for them to go.”

Hospitals and people in the Long Island community constantly refer those in need of a wildlife rehabber to Boyd, adding to the already full house of 30 rescue animals – dogs, cats, parrots, and bunnies - that she has with partner Neal Wechsler.

A supportive work family

Fortunately, with baby animals, Boyd is able to take them to work with her and feed them during her breaks. “I tend to take babies because I do work long hours and I'm able to take the babies with me if they need care,” says Boyd. “And the VCA I work with, they're wonderful. They let me bring them in… it's been great.”

Still, Boyd says she only sleeps two hours each night, and on her one day off a week, she’s feeding babies nonstop. But sleep isn’t the only strain this work causes. “The wildlife rehab ends up being tens of thousands [of dollars] a year in food costs. It's crazy,” says Boyd.

One coworker witnessing Boyd’s dedication to animals decided to take financial matters into her own hands in 2020 by setting up a GoFundMe. “I felt like I needed to do something because I can’t rehab things, but I figured it was a way to really help her,” says Carrie Santare, organizer of the fundraiser and a veterinary specialist at the VCA Veterinary Referral and Emergency Center of Westbury.

Santare also enjoys when Boyd brings her babies to the hospital. “When I need a little break, I always go back there and play with babies for a little and carry them around,” says Santare. “Especially in a referral center, we don't see many healthy things, so, it's nice to just see these small little innocent things grow up and it brings a smile to our faces.”

The GoFundMe ended up raising $1,757 of its $1,500 goal, and people can still donate today. “We are like a family around here and it's nice to help our own out,” says Santare.
Saving the bees

Boyd also helps fund her rehabilitation work by selling honey products from her many beehives at local farmer’s markets under the brand BeeWitched Bee. The rewards since Boyd and her partner started beekeeping 12 years ago are also visible in her garden. “I've had vegetable gardens and fruit trees all my life, and I would have a moderate amount of fruits and vegetables, but with the bees, it's crazy,” says Boyd. “The trees are just covered. I have cherry trees and I would get maybe a bowl full of cherries, and now we get buckets full of cherries.”

Bees pollinate 80 percent of the world’s plants, and they’re reportedly responsible for one out of every three bites humans take, but they’re harmed by pesticides. This is why Boyd tries to help educate people about the importance of bees and not using pesticides in yards. 

"I get a lot of birds in with toxicity poisoning from lawn services spraying for bugs… and nine times out of 10, we can't save them,” says Boyd. “If you can, try not to poison the environment, because it's not just the animals you're poisoning, you're poisoning all of us too.”

As an oncology technician, Boyd works with cancer patients, and she believes there may be a link between the increased use of pesticides and the number of cancer patients. “When I started oncology 22 years ago, we would see cancer in 10-year-old dogs, 12-year-old dogs; the cats would be 10, 14, 15. Now we see it in puppies and kittens. I can't even tell you how many like six-month-old puppies with cancer [I’ve seen],” says Boyd.

This may be due to when dogs go outside and walk on the lawn with bare feet, and then come inside and lick their paws. It’s a good idea for all pet owners to wash their pet’s paws after being outside where harmful chemicals might be. 

Whether at work at the hospital or at a farmer’s market, Boyd tries to spread awareness on how we impact wildlife and our ecosystem and vice versa. “Everything's so intertwined and everything's so connected,” says Boyd. “It's just trying to wake people up to what's important.”
““I've been rescuing wildlife my whole life, since I was a child,” says Boyd... “I would always take them home and raise them, because there's just nowhere for them to go.””