When it comes to rehabilitation, Sommer is
licensed through the State of Texas and is
authorized to care for sick, injured or
orphaned small mammals, excluding fawn,
but cannot rehabilitate animals that are categorized
as threatened or endangered species
or those that fall under the health department's
statewide rabies quarantine, such as
foxes or coyotes.
In addition to the jack rabbit, Sommer is
caring for two young, female raccoons named
"Radar" and "Erdi," who were orphaned as
babies and will soon be returned to the wild,
and a partially-paralyzed male opossum,
named "Bubba," who will be transfered to
another facility to care for his special needs.
She said about 90 percent of the animals she
takes in are orphaned, and also said with
autumn just around the corner, she is expecting
a slew of orphaned squirrels to come
Thanks to the hard work of local Boy
Scouts, each animal has a sizable structure to
serve as their temporary abode, which provide
all of the comforts found outdoors.
Sommer hopes an enclosed structure constructed
by scouts will soon welcome birds to
Sommer said living in a rural community
that is home to many animal lovers has
allowed her to establish a strong network of
supporters, and animal advocates who allow
her to release indigenous species back into
their environments, away from her city-based
Since the animals have been rescued, the
law states that they cannot be displayed to the
public, but thanks to technology, Sommer is
working to put their daily lives in plain sight
without compromising the healing process by
installing video cameras that will allow her to
stream their daily activities into classrooms.
"Kids really only get to see wildlife dead
on the side of the road, or after they have
been hunted," Sommer said. "All we need is
the software and I can give children the
opportunity to view the animals (in action)."
Sommer said her mission is two-fold. In
addition to rehabilitation, her focus is education.
A new permanent resident of Rainbow, a
female coatimundi, will help Sommer in making
humans more aware of the risks of taking
"exotics" on as pets.
"Snookums," will remain the only permanent
resident of the rescue, as she was the
product of an exotic breeder, far from South
America, the home place of her species.
addition, Snookums was declawed by her former
owners, who kept her in their kitchen in
cramped quarters, a parrot cage. To be certain
that she will never be bred in the case that
Sommer can no longer care for her,
Snookums was recently spayed by a local veterinarian
as a precaution.
When asked how Snookums made her way
to Rainbow, Sommer said she found an individual
attempting to sell the coatimundi on
craigslist for $700.
After a little negotiating,
Sommer was able to get the price down to
something more reasonable and a close friend
volunteered to drive all the way to Louisiana
to save Snookums from her inadequate home.
In her attempts to educate the masses on
the problems with taking the wild out of
wildlife, Sommers plans to take the message
to area schools, clubs and organizations.
Since Snookums is an educational tool, rather
than a rehab animal, she will be able to be
taken from Rainbow and viewed by anyone
interested in her cute, but strange appearance.
She looks like a cross between an anteater,
raccoon and lemer.
Sommer also said in regards to local
wildlife, such as squirrels or raccoons, it is a
crime to keep such animals as domestic pets
or for individuals who are not licensed rehabilitators
to raise them. She said the offense is
a misdemeanor that can add up to a citation
R.E.A.L. world experience
According to Denise Martinez, Ph.D.,
Sommer's mission will soon get a little help
from animal science and social work students
at Tarleton State University.
Martinez is the
coordinator for Keeping it R.E.A.L. (Realworld
Experiences Applied to Learning,) a
program that "is designed to enhance undergraduate
education by integrating applied
learning experiences into the students' educations."Martinez said the program, under the direction
of instructors Dr. Barry Lambert and Ms.
Francine Pratt, will partner with Rainbow on
the service learning project. Students will
assist Sommer with facility operation, community
education, fundraising and public
"This is a great opportunity for us (Tarleton
and TSU students)," Martinez said, adding
that Rainbow's applying to the program
means students could volunteer to participate
in the service learning project.
You can help
Sommer said while animals are her focus,
95 percent of her work revolves around
paperwork and fundraising efforts. She
receives no funding from the state and instead
relies on the support of her friends and other
animal lovers. Donations to the cause are
accepted through the Rainbow Web site,
On the Web site is
a wish list of things that will help care for
Rainbow Wildlife Rescue is a 501(c) 3
non-profit organization and all donations are
You may also get a peek into the rescue's
operations and keep up-to-date on new
patients by becoming a fan of the Rainbow
Wildlife Rescue on facebook.