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Photos: Ga. firefighter-EMT rescues wounded owl

Agata Sarkis was finishing her shift in Milton when she covered the bird with a blanket and transported it to a fire station


Photo/Milton Fire Department

Karen Huppertz for the AJC
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

MILTON, Ga. — A very observant Milton Firefighter/EMT recently found herself with an opportunity to rescue a different species. According to the Milton Fire Department, Agata Sarkis was ending her day at 7:30 a.m. after completing her C-Shift at Station 44 when she happened upon a wounded barred owl off Mayfield Road. The owl was unable to fly due to a wing injury.

Sarkis carefully used a blanket to cover the owl and safely transferred it to Station 41 off Arnold Mill Road where the A-Shift crew of Jeremy Webster, Tyson Blake and Clay Barnette helped watch over the owl while Sarkis figured out what to do next.

“I’ve always joked that I consider myself a new-age Steve Irwin because I’m always rescuing animals of all sorts,” said Sarkis in an MFD social media post.

Calls to animal control and emergency veterinarians first led Sarkis to the Chattahoochee Nature Center in Roswell. But before CNC’s wildlife rehabilitation center could help, the owl was transported to Veterinary Emergency Group in Alpharetta so it could be quarantined.

While the Chattahoochee Nature Center in Roswell frequently accepts found wildlife for rehabilitation, the center is currently using caution before accepting wild birds. The confirmation of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Henry County late last summer resulted in the CNC only accepting reptiles for rehabilitation.

“This pathogen is 97% fatal to raptors within 48 hours,” said Kathryn Dudeck, CNC Wildlife Director. “In poultry, it is fatal within 24 hours and has resulted in 51 million commercial chicken deaths.”

The good news, the area around CNC has had no new cases of avian flu in just over a month. If this trend continues, the center expects to begin accepting raptors for rehabilitation again soon.

According to Jess Legato at Autrey Mill Nature Center in Johns Creek, the best thing to do if you encounter a wounded animal is to first observe the animal’s condition. “Is it bleeding,” said Legato. “Is the animal unable to stand?” Then call the nature center with information and for guidance. “You should never move a young animal if it is near the nest,” added Legato. “Keep an eye out for mom to come back. She may have stepped away to forage and will return with time.”

If you do need to move an injured mammal or bird, use gloves or a towel to keep it warm while you transport the animal or wait for it to be picked up.

Information: Chattahoochee Nature Center at 770-992-2055 ext. 239 or, Autrey Mill Nature Center at 678-366-3511 or and Veterinary Emergency Group at 404-445-8222 or

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