No Shelter Here: City of Oshawa Shuts Down Only Haven for Wildlife in Durham Region

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

WERblogpicNearly three years ago, Kelli Polsinelli— a licensed wildlife rehabilitator with more than 15 years of experience— started Wild Earth Refuge after recognizing the lack of care for orphaned or injured wildlife in her home region of Durham. 

As the only authorized rehabilitator in Durham Region, Polsinelli quickly made herself invaluable to concerned community members, veterinary offices, and even Oshawa Animal Services, who would transfer wild animals in need of care. 

Last year alone, Polsinelli took in more than 200 animals, from more than 15 species, many of them orphaned baby squirrels, birds and rabbits.

Polsinelli was “utterly devastated and shocked” when 4 weeks ago, the city of Oshawa informed her she was in violation of zoning by-laws. Polsinelli says she “did her by-law research” when registering as a not-for-profit corporation and getting her home-based facility off the ground.

To add insult to injury, Polsinelli says that “they won’t let me keep the wildlife I currently have in care until they can be released a month from now when weather conditions are ideal. Instead, I have to stress these recovering animals out by transferring them to different facilities.”

City councillor Amy England is described by Polsinelli as “a wonderful ally” but unfortunately council has no authority over zoning.

While Polsinelli feels she has grounds to challenge the claims made by by-law officers, she says that “unfortunately, I do not have the resources to fight this. The resources I have go entirely to running this small but needed facility. And not only that, but we are on the verge of baby season, and hundreds of animals in this region will be in big trouble if I do not focus on finding a new facility.”

Polsinelli is calling on community members and supporters to help Wild Earth Refuge find a new location that is zoned for agricultural or industrial purposes. Additionally, Polsinelli estimates she will require about $25,000 to cover one-time, initial start up costs for ensuring the new location meets all required standards.(please see list below showing where donations will go.) She is hoping that fellow community members will recognize the value of the volunteer work she is doing, and see this as “a community effort where everyone can come together and improve things for our wild neighbours.”

“Whether you’re an animal lover or not, you could end up needing a rehabilitator’s help one day. If a nest of baby skunks are orphaned in your backyard, we’re there. Or if a bird breaks his back flying into your window, we’re there when you need us.”

To schedule an interview, make an inquiry, or to reach Kelli Polsinelli for comment, please call: 1-289-356-2826 or email

Where does your money go?

Approximate costs for setting up our new location:
Outdoor squirrel enclosures- $1500
Outdoor bunny enclosures- $700
Outdoor opossum enclosures- $2000
Outside bird aviary- $2000-$3000
Indoor juvenile enclosures squirrels- $1000
Indoor juvenile enclosures bunnies- $500
Indoor juvenile opossum enclosures- $1500
Indoor bird cages- $2000
Indoor bat cages & supplies- $1500
Infant supplies, heating pads, formula, feeding supplies, containers for babies, etc- $2000
Washer/dryer- $800
Rent- $9000 We have to make sure we can secure our location, as we don’t get paid for rehabilitating wildlife.
Total: $25,500
100% of your donations go to the care, housing, feeding, surgical/medical procedures and medicine for the wildlife.
Wild Earth Refuge is a Not-For-Profit federal incorporation dedicated to getting wildlife healthy and back to the wild.
We are building these enclosures ourselves with our dedicated volunteers.

To donate please click on the button on the right side of the page!


  • Debra says:

    Have you approached local businesses, such as Home Depot or
    Lowes to donate materials? I’d be happy to call around

    • Hi Debra

      We are a registered Not For Profit but not as yet a registered charity. Most of these big business will only deal with charities. Though I’m all for trying. If you want to contact them we’d sure appreciate it.

  • Lina J. Pedroni says:

    Please reach out…to save those poor souls!!!

  • Candy says:

    Start going to all the newspapers to tell your story. The man that had a wildlife sanctuary in Ajax that burnt down got tons of help and donations to help rebuild, worth a try.

  • CC says:

    A City Council has all kinds of authority, and could help this wildlife rehab stay where it is, or give it time to relocate in the off season. I have seen Councils in other municipalities overrule bylaw officers and disregard bylaws.

  • Sheli says:

    I’m sorry you are getting so screwed.

    Your city sucks out loud !

  • Many wildlife rehabilitation facilities as well as home-based licensed rehabbers are yearly being threatened with closure simply through selfish-thinkers who rely on community ordinances or other legally-persuasive means.The value of providing this educated, compassionate, health-conscious fostership is generally a selfless endeavor and provides a very much-neglected service to every community.Please show your support for these altruistic people who give so many orphaned creatures that second chance every year and peace of mind for the public.

  • Jody Arsenault says:

    Hello there, I noticed you may need a washer/dryer – my husband and I have a good functioning dryer that we could donate if you still need one. Please let me know 🙂


  • Dave McMillan says:

    this is bad news to find out! I just found a baby squirrel in my front yard. I’m trying to take care of it but don’t really know what to do with the poor guy. Any suggestions would be helpful 🙂

    • Hi Dave
      Keep the baby warm by providing an external heat source. Either a heating pad under half the container you are holding him in, or a water bottle wrapped in a kitchen drying towel. It’s essential you keep him warm.
      Please do not feed him. There are very important reasons for this.
      The closet rehab centre is Shades of Hope 705-437-4654. It’s about an hours drive from Oshawa which may seem like a long distance but considering all the time and care wildlife needs to survive when separated from their family, taking him there is a small inconvenience.
      All wildlife require specialized medication and formula that you don’t have access to. We don’t feed our squirrels KMR,Espilac or any other potion you find on google. His best chance of surviving is by getting him to a wildlife rehabilitator.
      Thanks for saving him!

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