Extending a helping hand after wildlife rehab center in Tennessee is ravaged by fire

In the early morning hours on June 23, a fire ravaged the Walden’s Puddle Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center in Joelton, Tennessee.

As soon as the fire alarms rang out the Nashville Fire Department rushed to the scene. The brave firefighters contained the fire and helped staff and volunteers rescue hundreds of animals in cages – they went above the call of duty to save these wild animals that included deer, hawks, squirrels, rabbits, opossums, raccoons, and more.

Also on IFAW.org: No cheers for trophy hunting

Tragedy could not be avoided … 75 animals have succumbed to smoke inhalation and other fire related injuries so far.

The Walden’s Puddle rescuers are devastated but have rallied to focus on those hundreds of precious lives that were saved. The local community of Joelton and supporters from way outside of city limits has responded with donations and much needed morale support. 

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) Disaster Response Team Lead Diane Treadwell and Rondi Large from IFAW ERN Partner WildCare Foundation both visited with Walden’s Puddle staff at the National Wildlife Rehabilitation Association Conference a few months ago.

The IFAW poster presentation at the conference was about Helping Wildlife in Disasters: A Case Study of IFAW and WildCare Foundation Collaboration during and following the Moore, OK Tornadoes of 2013.

Both Rondi and Diane were anxious about helping out their new friends in any way that we could!

I immediately reached out to Walden’s Puddle CEO Lane Boyd on the Tuesday evening following the fire - she was exhausted and devastated, but you would not have known it from her words and tone with me.

She vehemently promised that Walden’s Puddle would never forget those they lost during this disaster, but they would without a doubt continue their mission to provide care and treatment to sick, injured, and orphaned native Tennessee wildlife with a renewed sense of purpose.

Cleanup will understandably take a long time, but IFAW is committed to helping Walden’s Puddle be even stronger in both spirit and frame.

We quickly awarded an emergency grant to help with building repairs like replacing the windows immediately.

We firmly believe that all disasters happen at the local level and should be handled and mitigated at the local level – Walden’s Puddle is doing just that, one fresh coat of paint at a time.


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Senior Program Advisor
Senior Program Advisor
Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
IFAW Veterinarian
Katie Moore, Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Loïs Lelanchon, Animal Rescue Program Officer
Animal Rescue Program Officer
Shannon Walajtys
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy