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Giving a hoot

Ashley Schilling holds the injured great-horned owl she found along the road near her rural Verndale residence last week. Schilling and her mother, Anne Menard, brought the bird to an animal hospital in Garrison, where it was humanely euthanized because it's injuries were too severe.1 / 2
Ashley Schilling wraps the injured great-horned owl in a blanket before transporting it to an animal clinic in Garrison.2 / 2

It was supposed to be a lazy, stay-at-home kind of day.

"That didn't happen," Ashley Schilling said.

Instead, Schilling and her mother, Anne Menard, embarked on an impromptu road trip to try to save an injured great-horned owl.

The mail carrier discovered the bird near the end of the driveway at their home northeast of Verndale last Tuesday morning.

"We didn't know what to do with the thing," Schilling said.

But they knew they weren't going to just watch the owl die.

They called the Department of Natural Resources. After an hour without a response, they wrapped it in a blanket and drove it to the Staples Veterinary Clinic, which directed the rescuers to Garrison Animal Hospital, a licensed wild bird rehab facility.

So the road trip continued another hour to the east.

Along the way, they gave it a name: Nevaeh (heaven backwards). The flustered bird made for a difficult traveling companion.

"It would not calm down," said Schilling, who endured a couple scratches and bites. "It was extreme."

After arriving in Garrison, they filled out a form and left the bird in professional hands. Then they returned home, hoping for a happy outcome for their new feathered friend.

On Wednesday morning, they called to check on the owl.

It had been humanely euthanized.

"He had a broken back and he could not move his legs, so he would not have been able to heal well enough to be released or to a functional level, said Faren Elling, a Garrison Animal Hospital veterinary assistant.

The news made Schilling and Menard sad, but they had no regrets.

"We cried," Menard said. "I would definitely do it again. Every animal deserves the right to live."

Schilling echoed that notion.

"I wish there was a better ending to the story," she said.