“Doc” R G Wexler Nominated for the “2015 Calvert You Are Beautiful Awards”
I am sure you will find this to be a wonderful story about an interesting man who has devoted his life to saving and treating our wildlife. “Doc” Wexler has been working with animals since the age of seven when he would do his best to help any animal in need. He often would bring home an injured animal to see if he could nurse the creature back to health. He was encouraged by his mother who would not allow any animal [or human being for that matter] to go hungry other than mice or snakes which really terrified her! Doc states she was supportive of his love for animals as far back as he can remember. At the age of nine, his dad began to call him “Doc” because of his great interest in treating these creatures; the name has stuck with him all his life.
His first rescue was a baby rabbit that had been injured by a lawnmower. With mom’s help, he was able to sew up the bunny’s fragile skin with six or seven stitches with an upholstery needle and thread. He said he was able to use “an over the counter topical pain reliever” that worked well. And in five weeks, once the wound healed sufficiently, Doc returned the little guy back to the woods from which he came. He also remembers using epoxy glue and tiny stainless steel clips to mend broken turtle shells and was fortunate to come across several of these slow movers several years later. As a youngster, he enjoyed spending hours in the woods observing wildlife and became fascinated by the many different species and their various habits. It was during this part of his life he decided this interest in animals of all kinds was to become his life’s work.
He spoke of one dramatic incident when he was invited by his neighbors to accompany them on a hunting trip. He was appalled to learn how cruel these activities could be and of the obvious pain and suffering some of these animals endured before they died. It was at this time that he became opposed to hunting for just fun or sport and wondered if hunters ever considered the pain that would be inflicted on the animal. At other times in his long walk to and from school, he would discover animals that were injured by motor vehicles and left for dead. He was able to contact a local veterinarian and came to agreement with the Vet that in return for treating these animals, Doc would clean cages for him on weekends. He soon learned that each animal has their own distinct personality and a very strong will to survive. He has been rescuing animals ever since.
Later in life he desired to become a military medic, but was assigned to the Pentagon and then Ft. Belvoir in Northern Virginia. He says he was very disappointed in these orders, but in retrospect, he believes it may have saved his life by not being thrust out there in harm’s way. One amusing story from his military days that he related to me concerns a hungry stray cat that entered the barracks crying and in an obvious search for food. And of course, Doc responded by getting her some food and protecting her from the other troops who were mean to her. Unfortunately, their Colonel pulled a snap inspection of the premises and found the cat in Doc’s locker, but surprisingly did not admonish him, but reminded him about the rules and gave him forty eight hours to find the stray a new home which he did! Whew, I can imagine the grief I would have received had my CPO found a stray cat in my barracks locker!
Doc arrived here in Calvert County in 1990. He was born in Riverdale in Prince Georges County and was raised in Landover and Lanham. As a youngster, he often visited Calvert County and was charmed by the rural countryside and its abundance of waterfowl and four legged animals that were native to this part of Maryland. It was rare to find these forms of wildlife in the overdeveloped suburbs of nearby Washington, DC. He earned several degrees including a Bachelor’s in Science as well as a Bachelor’s in General Studies and an Associate Degree. Upon setting up residence here in Lusby, Doc decided to combine his education with his love of animals and set out to establish a wildlife rescue facility here as there was little to no organized efforts to care for these neglected creatures.
With the encouragement of many local folks, Doc founded the Orphaned Wildlife Rescue Center [OWRC] in Lusby more than two decades ago. It is a 501 (C) (3) non-profit charitable organization and in 2015 had more than 100 volunteers plus seven veterinarians to help meet the growing needs for wildlife rescue and rehabilitation in our area. Though the organization began as a wildlife rescue facility, it soon became apparent that OWRC would eventually have to begin rehabilitating animals as well. But as I have often heard from others whose devoted lives I have discussed in this space previously, there is never enough financial resources or volunteers to meet current demands. His work has prospered despite never having enough money as he has invested his retirement and life savings to maintain the facility. With the help of Mrs. Gerda Bederer, he was able to acquire a wildlife rehabber’s license. Additionally through training with the Department of Natural Resources and organizations such as the National and International Wildlife Rehab Association the, Doc has gained permits and licenses to treat most injured and orphaned wild animals. However, his main focus is to rescue these creatures and stabilize them to the point he can put them with expert rehabbers.
Finally, under Doc’s direction, OWRC has achieved several top accomplishments in recent years. Seven of the more important feats include:
* Completion of Maryland’s first wildlife clinic
*Launch of the “Eagle One” project with hopes of acquiring an Eagle permit from the state of Maryland
* A new incubator facility for infant mammals and birds
* New community education and volunteer opportunities
*Internship programs for college students Nationwide
*on-water rescue for the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries
*Educational programs for rehabber’s veterinarians and vet techs
In closing, Doc Wexler is the one man here who makes the difference between life and death for creatures great and small of all species. He has been called the “St. Francis of the wildlife world”. That is his life! Doc you have been a great addition to our community. Thank you for your many contributions and all you do for our citizens and especially our animal friends!
If you know of an unsung citizen of Calvert County, please contact Dave at email@example.com.