Oftentimes, as we drive along a stretch of busy highway, we come across a wild or domesticated animal roaming about close to traffic, most likely fearful for its life.
Most of us feel pity for such animals and drive on by, hopeful for their survival, but not Hannah Lemly.
Lemly, an Ashe County native and local artist whose creations are featured prominently at The Artists’ Theatre in West Jefferson, has a soft spot for all creatures great and small, which is why she usually pulls by the wayside to help return the animals to safety.
Such was the case on Thursday morning, June 26, around 10 a.m., as Lemly was cruising along U.S. 421 between Yadkinville and Wilkesboro, when she spotted a fawn, stranded in the median of the highway. Without giving it a second thought, Lemly pulled over and got out of her car.
“He was almost hit by several cars and a few tractor trailers,” Lemly said. “He was two or three days old.”
Lemly immediately tried to contact a rescue, but none were available to take him in right away.
“We were not able to get in contact with a rescue that would take him until 7:30 that night,” Lemly said.
Lemly did what she’s done many times before — she temporarily fostered the fawn until a rescue could take him in.
“I gave him Pedialyte in a baby bottle until we got him to the rescue,” Lemly said.
Pedialyte is just one of the items Lemly keeps in a first aid kit of sorts, for such moments.
“I keep a kit with Pedialyte, eye droppers, bottles, and medical supplies,” Lemly said. “I usually don’t go more than a month or two before needing it again.”
The fawn was eventually taken to Blue Ridge Wildlife Institute in Banner Elk, according to Lemly. He was then sent to a wildlife rehabilitator in Morganton one day later.
“The Blue Ridge Wildlife Institute is student run, and the volunteer staff were enthusiastic and wonderful,” Lemly said.
Lemly has been rescuing all sorts of animals since she was a child.
“I have rescued abandoned or injured baby birds, opossums, snakes, many species of rodents, bats, and lots of cats and dogs,” Lemly said. “I would say my success rates have definitely improved from when I was a child.”
Those wild animals she can’t keep are usually taken to Genesis Wildlife Sanctuary in Beech Mountain. Her family has been willing to take in some of the domesticated ones while others go to the Watauga Humane Society.
“Starting as a kid and becoming easier when I could drive myself, I have picked up so many dogs I’ve lost count,” Lemly said. “I normally find them in dangerous situations such as in the road, but sometimes they show up at my house or friends’ houses.”
Lemly is always quick to find the owners, placing the animals back in their respective homes.
“I always put up their photo all over internet lost and found sites as well as on the radio and in papers,” Lemly said. “I sometimes put up posters around the area they were found, and have driven door to door and around neighborhoods asking if anyone recognizes the lost dog.”
Lemly’s overly humble about her rescues. She’s not looking for any sort of fame or recognition. It’s like second nature to her.
“When I see an animal, any animal that seems to be out of place or in danger, I immediately begin thinking about what to do to help,” Lemly said. “I never think of it as an option to drive or walk by and ignore the situation; whatever I have going on can wait.”
“I think as humans, we often make the world a difficult place to live for other creatures, and I feel that I owe any help that I can give to them,” Lemly said.
Alan Bulluck can be reached at (336) 846-7164 or on Twitter @albulluck.