MOUNT DORA— When Lake County Fire Rescue Lt. Robert Staab and Firefighter Brian Tindell rescued a barred owl they named “Lucky” from the grill of resident Laura McQuilkin’s Dodge pickup truck in December, they never thought they would see him fly again.
“We expected more of a body removal than a rescue. We got there, took a flashlight and looked at the front of the truck and there he was looking back at us,” said Lt. Staab.
After consulting with wildlife experts, the firefighters wrapped the owl in a jacket, took him back to the station, placed him in a dog kennel and transported Lucky to the Avian Rehabilitation Center in Apopka.
Though it took nearly a month, Lucky was nursed back to health and soon healed from a fractured tibia. And on Saturday, McQuilkin joined the firefighters and Lucky’s rehabilitation team in releasing the owl at Gilbert Park in Mount Dora.
Moved to tears, McQuilkin said,” I’m excited beyond words. He’s just such a beautiful owl. I’m so happy he’s ok.”
Firefighter Tindell was also thrilled to be an integral part of the owl’s rescue through rehab.
“It was a unique experience. I won’t forget it,” he said.
The career firefighters of Lake County Fire Rescue protect county residents and visitors in an area covering approximately 1,200 square miles, with nearly 70,000 residences and up to 2,000 commercial properties.