You probably don’t expect to see an injured eagle or a newborn deer at your local veterinary hospital, but at VCA Capital Area Veterinary Emergency and Specialty (CAVES) in Concord, NH, it’s all in a typical day’s work.

As the only specialty emergency hospital in the state that helps wildlife, VCA CAVES has developed a very special partnership with the nonprofit Wings of Dawn, which takes in 750 to 800 birds and around 350 mammals each year. It’s just one of the many partnerships that VCA Animal Hospitals has with wildlife rescues across the country.
“It's absolutely wonderful,” says founder Maria Colby. “Without CAVES I would not be able to care for a bunch of the animals that I see.”

The partnership has saved the lives of many animals that may not have otherwise gotten help. From domestic cats to porcupines, VCA CAVES offers emergency and highly specialized care to animals using state-of-the-art diagnostics and advanced treatments and therapies. It’s staffed by experts in emergency and critical care, cardiology, diagnostic imagery and radiology and surgery. 

“Maria helps us in the expertise that we may not have and in turn we help her with the facilities that she may not have,” says Meghan Dow, CVT. “So, we've developed a really good partnership with her and I think CAVES – and VCA in general – just understands the importance of not only just helping your dogs and cats, but helping our neighbors in nature.” The word partnership is getting redundant 

In addition to caring for sick or injured wildlife, VCA CAVES and Wings of Dawn have been working together on an important project to reduce the number of loon deaths from lead poisoning in New Hampshire. Loons are a group of aquatic birds. Most poisoning occurs when the loons eat lead-weighted fishing hooks from the water. Teams at VCA CAVES perform radiographs, lead testing, endoscopies and gastric lavage to remove lead sinkers from these animal's stomachs and save their lives. 

Staff say that part of the fun of working at VCA CAVES is never knowing what may come through their doors next. They have the opportunity to care for animals that others in their profession may never treat in their lifetime. 

“Whatever comes in, if we can help out we'll certainly try to do that, especially with our wildlife creatures,” says Luke Zagar, DVM, emergency and critical care specialist.

Wild animals are treated at VCA CAVES free of charge, then rehabilitated by Maria and her team at Wings of Dawn. When the animals are ready, they are released back into the wild.

The partnership with Wings of Dawn is just one example of VCA’s commitment to support animal welfare of all kinds, not just companion animals. VCA works closely with fish and game departments, state police, The Humane Society of the United States and over 150 animal shelters and rescues across the county.

In honor of Animal Welfare month, we celebrate the high quality, compassionate care that VCA associates provide – whether it’s puppies or skunks – at our hospitals every day.
““Without CAVES I would not be able to care for a bunch of the animals that I see.””