This is especially obvious in the case of Joanne Rowley and her unusual patients, the injured furred and feathered creatures that inhabit her neighborhood of the Catskills.
Since retiring Rowley has shared her small quiet cottage with a number of injured and ill animals. The most notable of the moment is Charles, the woodchuck. Charles was struck in the head with a shovel and suffered from almost a constant state of seizure from his injuries. Rowley says he continues to improve, but may never be able to survive in the wild again. If not, Charles will live with her and be well cared for.
Charles shares the attentions of Rowley with a varied cast of characters. There are chimney swifts, robins, a Whippoorwill, tree swallows and flying squirrels. These creatures are doing well, but Rowley notes that, just as in caring for humans, we don’t always have happy endings. Last year a porcupine was brought to her that had been struck by a car. She did her best, but the animal was too severely injured and died.
Her favorite success story is of a possum that was found along the road and presumed dead. While examining the animal she found eight tiny healthy babies in her pouch. “After three months of rehabilitation, she was fine,” said Rowley.
Rowley has been caring for animals since she received a certification and rehabilitation license from the state Department of Environmental Conservation six years ago. She has also obtained a federal level certificate to rehabilitate birds.
Rowley is a credit to her late profession and a perfect example of once a nurse, always a nurse, only the patients change.