Wildlife group pushes app to help sick, injured animals

Wildlife rescuer Rebecca Dmytryk, director of the Moss Landing, Calif.-based Wildlife Emergency Services, is raising money for an app that will help to find help for sick and injured wildlife.

Kevin Johnson | Santa Cruz Sentinel

MOSS LANDING, Calif. — Who would you call to get help for an injured deer? A sick sea lion? A bird with a broken wing?

If all goes well, soon there will be an app for that.

The director of the Moss Landing, Calif.-based Wildlife Emergency Services is developing an application for smartphones to connect people who find orphaned, sick or injured wildlife with organizations and individuals who can help. Rebecca Dmytryk, who has worked in the wildlife rescue field for 30 years, is drumming up support to create WildHelp, a mobile data application for iOS and Android phones that could be used anywhere in the U.S.

“Every day people encounter wild animals in need of help,” said Dmytryk, who is the director of the Moss Landing-based Wildlife Emergency Services. “They are found sick, injured, displaced, trapped, orphaned, entangled, and in serious trouble, but the task of finding help can be arduous.

Too often, finders must make multiple phone calls to track down the right person or organization to help them, she said. The frustrating, and often time-consuming, delays in locating qualified care often lead to animal deaths. That’s why Dmytryk is working on the project to expedite aid to injured and ailing wild creatures throughout the U.S. She teamed up with an application designer, and a software developer from IV Technology Group in New York to create WildHelp. Together, the three are seeking funding to create and program an extensive database of wildlife resources and emergency animal responders throughout the country.

The WildHelp team launched a Kickstarter campaign in an attempt to raise $32,000 to turn the project into a reality. Kickstarter is a website that was set up to fund creative projects. It allows designers, authors, artists, musicians and filmmakers to present their project to the public to seek patrons. If people like the project, they can pledge to make a donation, which would be accepted only if the entire funding goal is met.

As of Thursday, 213 backers had pledged $9,034 toward the project. The deadline to reach the funding goal is Sept. 23.

“The WildHelp mobile application will streamline the reporting process, expediting aid to wild animals in need and the people who find them, helping save thousands of lives every year,” Dmytryk said.

Plans call for an easy-to-use program that directs people through a series of multiple choice questions to determine what kind of animal needs help, and what’s wrong with it. The program will utilize the phones’ GPS coordinates and determine where the closest and most appropriate place to get it some help. The GPS data can also be used by rescuers who need to recover an injured animal or release an animal after treatment.

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