“We want to build an army of people who know what to look for if an animal needs help,” Rain Harbison said Tuesday in describing her fledging non-profit organization.
Nantucket Animal Rescue, founded by Harbison and Blair Perkins in late December, was formed with a mission to protect island animals in need of rescue and keep Nantucket’s beaches free of litter and debris that often cause entanglements and animal deaths.
Harbison and Perkins have been doing this work for years - first as part of the island’s established marine mammal stranding team, and now as a dynamic duo that spends hours patrolling Nantucket’s beaches and remote areas to aid the wildlife they love.
They see Nantucket Animal Rescue as supplementing the efforts of the established Marine Mammal Alliance Nantucket (MMAN), which currently holds the NOAA agreement to respond to marine mammal strandings on the island.
“The Marine Mammal Alliance doesn’t have enough people on their team to cover every animal that needs help and they don’t work with birds or turtles,” Harbison said. “We decided it was time for us to start our own organization and get help from the community.”
Harbison and Perkins hope to build Nantucket Animal Rescue into a large and vibrant group by training island residents in rescue response techniques and actively searching and patrolling for animals in distress, rather than reacting to reports from the public.
“Every single animal we come across is in trouble because of humans,” Harbison said. “We’re just trying to mitigate a small portion of that.”
On Tuesday, Harbison and Perkins were at it again, helping to free a cormorant entangled in gill netting that was spotted at Sesachacha Pond.
The group has already established a hotline (508-322-1270) to report animals that are entangled or in distress, along with a website where they’ve started to accept donations to support their work.
“Rain said ‘We need to start a non-profit’ so if we’re long gone, there’s a legacy that continues for someone to take up the reins,” Perkins said of the founding of Nantucket Animal Rescue. “My passion with animals started growing up on a farm in the hidden forest (on Nantucket). I was raised to take care of animals. It's disheartening to see so many animals impacted by human existence. It’s terrible. I think we can make a difference.”