A Kirkland woman, who doesn't want her name used, unexpectedly found a pet in a baby flying squirrel she named Chancey.
"I rescued her from the cat. She was traumatized so I held her for, like, three hours. She was just nuzzling into me. She was just a sweetheart. We tried to see if we could find a momma because she was a baby. We don't know where she came from. She could have been somebody else's pet. Maybe that's why she bonded so quickly to a human. We don't know."
She decided to do some research online.
"Baby flying squirrels have a one in three chance of surviving in the wild. My thought was, gosh, she has been brought in by a cat. Putting her outside at night was just asking for yet another predator to get her. So I kept her."
The woman and the flying squirrel quickly became very close.
"I would get her out [of her cage] in the morning and we could go upstairs to my room where I take a shower, where it was safe. She spent a lot of time grooming herself while I was showering. It was so bizarre how she would learn things. I wasn't expecting the companionship I got from her."
But on Thursday afternoon, she found Chancey in her cage with a broken tail. She called several vets, who told her to take Chancey to PAWS in Lynnwood.
"When I took her to PAWS, I gave her to them and they wouldn't give her back. They euthanized her because they determined that she couldn't be rehabilitated and put out in the wild. Once a wildlife animal is taken to a wildlife specialist, which is the law to do, then you don't have anything to say about it."
She didn't know it at the time, but it's illegal to keep a wild animal as a pet.
"Basically, the bottom line was, I wasn't going to see her again. They didn't even tell me when they euthanized her. I didn't have a chance to say goodbye. What breaks my heart is that her last hours were spent in fear. She was so attached to me. She knew that she was safe with me. I held her non-stop after I found her with her tail and that's what calmed her down. She wanted to be close to me and that hurts. I'm so sad for her."
Jennifer Convy is the director of PAWS Wildlife Center in Lynnwood.
"When I went up to the front desk she was already very, very mad. Which, you know, is expected. I understand that, for someone who is very emotional about the animal they had. We deal with people that get emotional about wildlife all the time. We just had a conversation for quite a long time and I had to ask her to leave eventually because we were closing for the night. We had already had our conversation for a good 45 minutes. There really wasn't anything we were able to do for her at that time."
Jennifer says Chancey didn't technically belong to her and PAWS wasn't obligated to give her a final goodbye.
"The animal had multiple fractures, had metabolic bone disease. Was really in bad shape. Would be getting a full work up by both of our wildlife veterinarians on Friday morning. Then a decision would be made at that point as to whether that animal needed to be humanely euthanized. But I knew on Thursday night, by the obvious visible signs, that the animals' situation was just very sad."
PAWS is contacting Fish and Wildlife, since Chancey's caretaker technically broke the law keeping her as a pet. But she hopes she won't be made an example, since she wasn't aware of the law and only wanted the best for Chancey.
"Last night was the first night I could sleep through the night. I didn't realize how much I thought about Chancey. I'd wake up in the morning and I'd go down and see her and talk to her and we'd go up to the shower. You know, we had our little rituals. I'd open up an orange and give her an orange slice. Throughout the day it's just been hitting me how much she was a part of my life."
I am still waiting to hear back from Fish and Wildlife about what the consequences might be. In the meantime, a message from PAWS.
"When someone finds a wild animal, contact your Department of Fish and Wildlife, or your local veterinarian, and look for avenues to get that animal the proper help it needs," said Jennifer.