Letters to the Index-Tribune editor, Jan. 25, 2023

Readers share tips on injured wildlife, clarify school district data and look at charter school financing.|

Saving wildlife

EDITOR: I was compelled to write after reading Lynne Fisk Watts’ recent letter about an injured beaver. As a local veterinarian, I have spent 30 years helping injured wildlife in Sonoma Valley. I try and do “triage” to assess if an animal can be saved, and then contact the Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue or Wildcare in Marin County. I have worked at zoological parks and with the wildlife center. I am not a wildlife veterinarian, but will administer emergency treatment when necessary.

I understand the helplessness of seeing an injured animal, whether they’re domestic or indigenous to our Valley. While 99% of my practice is pets of all shapes and sizes, I have treated injured fawns, jackrabbits, bats, raptors, turtles, snakes, birds, multiple small mammals and, of course, the ducks on the Plaza. One big risk for both police officers and good Samaritans is the handling of an injured animal. It takes a trained professional to not get injured, and to not stress and worsen the condition of any wildlife. We have trained professionals at the Wildlife Center in Cotati, and the Bird Rescue Center in Santa Rosa. I advise those facilities be called first. If an animal is caught safely, our clinic on Broadway, across from Sonoma Materials, has helped save hundreds of injured animals, or stop their misery humanely. The police can’t really be expected to capture wild animals.

Animal Control officers can sometimes assist, but if an agent is not trained to handle them, and no one is available, it is honestly best for “nature to take its course.” That may sound cruel, but predators live because of injured or weak prey. Hopefully, a trained professional can be located to assist.

I feel the pain of witnessing any pain of any living thing, but there is a limit to interfering with nature. I hold my breath when I watch a show whereby a lion is hunting a buffalo, and I exhale after the poor animals suffering is halted. I know everyone’s heart is to want to rescue or save every injured animal, but please leave it to professionals or if none are available, it is out of our control.

I love hearing there are beavers back in the creeks! They are one of the few animals in nature that actually can alter an ecosystem for the better. Elephants do as well. I wish for everyone who can, to go and witness their amazing dam building and wetlands restoration efforts. Unfortunately, their world collides with humans, and as they repopulate, that harsh reality will happen repeatedly.

Animal suffering is extremely painful to witness. They do have some innate mechanisms to “cover” the pain — endorphins and hormones are in their systems. I know that is little solace to think about as one witnesses a wounded opossum or injured deer, but there are many professionals who do what they can, when they can. I know you experienced little immediate assistance when you found an injured animal, and that is unfortunate. I understand how difficult it is to just turn your head to avoid the lack of interference by police, and wish I could say that should never happen, but it will. Wild animals will get injured by people, cars, other wild animals or infrastructure and that cannot be avoided. I understand your desire for activism to aid any injured animals, and you have to know that there are really good people with big hearts who do care and do all they can.

I’ve never experienced as much joy as releasing an injured bat after it was caught by a cat (which is very common, we even abbreviate it “BBC” — bit by cat — it’s also why every cat, both indoors and outdoors should and must be vaccinated yearly for Rabies, as bats are the number one carrier). Watching that little recuperated bat at dusk disappear into the ether of the darkening sky was the ultimate reward.

If we can help, we will — there is a whole army of wild animal rescuers throughout the Valley and many creatures are saved.

Dr. Howard Rosner

Sonoma Veterinary Clinic

Data clarification

EDITOR: The recent Sonoma Valley Unified School District data included in the story about Creekside High School’s enrollment drop of 34% is very misleading as our students graduate as soon as they are finished with their required classes. We just graduated 10 students at the fall semester of this year, 44 in spring of last year and are on schedule for 25 more by the end of spring semester this year. We have been at our maximum enrollment of 60 students for many years but that number does fluctuate as students graduate.

To be represented in the district’s data as a school with declining enrollment is not only misleading but it could make the public believe that we are not a vital part of our local educational community. Imagine if those 79 students mentioned above had no alternative educational environment for success.

Walt Williams

Creekside High School teacher

Sonoma Charter School finances

EDITOR: I am writing in response to the recent article about Sonoma Charter School's finances. As an involved parent at SCS, I wanted to respond to the concern flagged over our school’s reserves being a half point of a percentage below the recommended 10%. Unfortunately, deficits are not unique to SCS. Public schools throughout the state are facing budget shortfalls and declining enrollment. Because our school is small, we have to be more vigilant in responding to changes in enrollment and it has not been unusual for SCS to have fiscal challenges throughout the years — but we have always come through these challenges.

It is important to know that charter schools are free, independent public schools with unique educational approaches. In exchange for operational flexibility, charter schools are subject to higher levels of accountability and less funding per student than traditional public schools. SCS receives about 60% of the funding per student from the state than other schools in the Sonoma Valley Unified School District receive per student (based on the law). This makes Sonoma Charter much more dependent upon a healthy enrollment than district schools.

Despite the discrepancy in funding, our little school provides a wonderful art-infused, academically rigorous education for all students thanks to our dedicated teachers, staff, administrators and community. Our families and parent-teacher organization are engaged and supportive in helping to ensure our students receive a well-rounded, whole child approach to education.

On Monday, the SCS board held a workshop to carefully review the budget to ensure the school stays on track with sound fiscal footing. This provided an opportunity to adjust the school's budget so that reserves are healthy for this year and the next two.

Cristin Monnich


Send letters to editor/publisher Emily Charrier at emily.charrier@sonomanews.com.

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