Weatherford Democrat

November 29, 2012

Helping with animal rehab

Sally Sexton

PARKER COUNTY — Ever since he was a child, Max Kassera has always had a love for animals.

“We always had pets at our house,” he said. “A skunk, an owl and your regular cats and dogs.”

Within the last few years, that love grew to a passion for helping animals through rehabilitation.

Kassera now takes in wildlife and “fosters” the creatures until they are well or grown enough, to be released back into the wild.

“I got into it accidentally when someone brought me a few baby opossums,” he said. “I called [PetsWest] for guidance, and they called Donna Robinson. She’s just wonderful.”

Robinson is a state-licensed wildlife rehabber, who deals with raccoons, opossums, skunks, squirrels and any other type of animal.

“Max has been working under me for three seasons,” Robinson said. “I’ve got a few people that work under me that are going for their permits. Max has a subcommittee permit, which means he is allowed to work and help rehab the animals under my guidance.”

Currently, Kassera has three squirrels, two of them babies that have just gotten off the bottle.

“A woman found them on her property and the mom had been killed,” Kassera said. “They’re about 3 months old, but they’ll have to stay in the house until the spring, because they’re too young to be released.”

Another squirrel, an older female, must stay with the Kasseras due to medical issues involving seizures.

“The squirrels are really just the squirreliest things, which is how they get their name, I guess,” wife Carol said. “When you go to feed them, they just squirm and wriggle all over the place.”

Feeding can be a tedious process, especially for the younger squirrels.

“You have to be careful about the formula that you give them because they’re very susceptible to diarrhea,” he said. “You’re supposed to give them 5 percent of their body weight five times a day.”

The couple is also rehabilitating a bunny that was found mauled by a cat and brought in.

Carol Kassera wasn’t too keen on the idea of animal rehab, but ultimately let her husband make the decision.

“I told him if he wanted to do it, we would do it,” she said.

Though Carol has a smaller role in the process, it hasn’t stopped her from bonding with some of the creatures.

“I like the opossums the best,” she said. “Everyone thinks they’re so vicious, but that’s only because they hiss at you when they feel threatened. They’re really one of the sweetest animals.”

Opossums, skunks and squirrels are just a few of the wildlife creatures that have come through the Kassera’s home.

When the couple lived in Illinois, a rescued baby raccoon, Toodles, turned into one of the best pets they say they’ve ever had.

“She had been abandoned by her mom and she was sitting on a stump just crying,” Carol Kassera said. “So we rescued her, took her in and she grew into the most wonderful pet.”

Toodles lived to be 13 years old, very close to a record, Max Kassera said.

Now five dogs and several cats live in harmony with the rescues, and every now and then, a skunk or feral cat will wander up on the back porch, guaranteed a free meal from the Kasseras.

“We’ve got about five acres of land, and I’ve let it grow a little wild in the back so that the animals can live in the underbrush,” Max Kassera said. “There are a lot of us that like to feed the animals in the neighborhood.”

For those interested in helping to foster wildlife, such as the Kasseras do, contact Robinson at 817-597-9175. Volunteers must be 18 or older.

“I’ve got about eight people that are helping out with the rehab, but we always, always are needing for people to help,” she said.