Newspaper article about Animal Advocates, Mary Cummins

Gardena Valley News, November 4, 2004

“Helping furry friends survive urban jungle” James Fujita

Baby fox tree squirrel, Mary Cummins, Animal Advocates

Every so often each of us comes across a reminder that we do not this fragile blue marble, we call home; we merely share it with others.

One such reminder came crashing down through the trees into my family’s life last month.

Our family lives on the side of a hill which overlooks San Pedro. It is fairly urban- we have a small post office annex, supermarkets, banks and restaurants conveniently located near our house-but we do have a surprisingly large number of trees as well.

As a result, we get a lot of animal visitors- mostly birds: doves, mockingbirds, sparrows, finches, etc. But we also get our fair share of furry friends: nocturnal raccoons, wandering possums and stray feral cats.

About three years ago, a couple of fluffy-tailed squirrels suddenly appeared in the tall pine trees in the neighborhood. We never had any in our area before.

I’m not sure how they got here- maybe their natural habitat got squeezed by suburban development- but soon as had a fairy decent-sized family of fox squirrels jumping from tree branch to branch and free tree to our rooftop.

Unfortunately, our squirrel family had a disaster lately. One of the younger squirrels was having trouble climbing and doing all of the usual things a squirrel has to do to survive. The other squirrels tried to help her- but eventually, the inevitable happened and she fell out of a tree.

(How do I know the squirrel is female? Continue reading…)

My mother saw the squirrel fall and land on the ground. Concerned about what might happen (there were cats in the area), she put on some gloves and managed to pick the injured squirrel up and get her into a box and out of harm’s way. The squirrel was frightened, but alive.

But then what? Who do you call when you want to help a squirrel? Our local veterinarian doesn’t handle wild creatures. Fortunately the vet had the phone number for Animal Advocates, a loosely knit non-profit volunteer organization of people who care for animals.

Mary Cummins, who lives about midway between the Beverly Center and Farmer’s Market, is one of Animal Advocates’ local experts on squirrels. Mary told us that she has cared for injured wild animals-mostly squirrels and possums-for about five years.

When you step inside her house, the place looks fairly normal until you get to her small office in the back. The office is filled with cages, neatly stacked against a wall. Each cage contains at least one squirrel.

She described her patients to us. One, which is jumping around vigorously, is just about ready to go to the larger cages in her back yard and will eventually be returned to the wild. Another one was raised as a pet and is too used to human contact to survive in the wild. One is blind and will be taken to schools to teach kids about wildlife. Although they are in various stages of rehabilitation, they all look healthy.

None of her squirrels will be euthanized, she assures us. All of the squirrels will either be returned to a spot near where they were found or will be given a purpose in life.

With expert skill, Mary picked up our squirrel with a blanket and examined it. It is a female squirrel, she told us. It has a broken leg, but nothing too serious. It is not deformed, as we suspected. It is missing teeth, but Mary concludes that our squirrel can be saved.

Mary gave us a short tour of her facility, showed us some pictures and told us about squirrels (contrary to popular belief, they can’t get rabies) and about Animal Advocates. When we left, I felt good about having helped.

The Animal Advocates website ( is filled with handy information on what to do if you find an injured animals, facts about the critters you might likely find and how to humanely keep pests out of your gardens.

Even if you never face an urban animal emergency, the organization is worth looking up.

Mary Cummins of Animal Advocates is a wildlife rehabilitator licensed by the California Department of Fish and Game. Mary Cummins is also a licensed real estate appraiser in Los Angeles, California.

About Mary Cummins Animal Advocates Real Estate Appraiser

Mary Cummins is President of Animal Advocates. She is licensed with the California Department of Fish & Game, USDA and the City of Los Angeles to rescue and rehabilitate wildlife. Cummins speaks to local community groups and students about respecting wildlife and humane wildlife control. She is also a Humane Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator. She has written manuals on small mammal rehabilitation besides numerous articles. She was born and raised in Southern California. She attended Beverly Hills Good Shepherd Catholic School and Beverly Hills High School. Besides being a member of Junior Mensa and on the Dean's list, she was a top ten national swimmer and competed on the men's water polo team. She began college at the age of 15 attending the University of Southern California on scholarship, majoring in Psychology/Sociology. After college Cummins became a licensed real estate agent specializing in income property in Los Angeles. She obtained her real estate appraisal license, real estate brokerage license and currently does real estate consulting, expert witness testimony and review appraisals at Cummins Real Estate Services.
This entry was posted in animal advocates, california, fox, gardena news, injured, james fujita, los angeles, mary cummins, rehabilitation, rescue, squirrel, tree, Uncategorized, wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

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