WINNEBAGO (WREX) — Lisa Beardsworth has always connected with animals.
She got into animal rehabilitation many years ago but took at 20-25 year hiatus after moving into Rockford for another career.
However, a few years ago, her first love made its way back into her life.
"I took a couple of squirrels to help another rehabber out and that was it," Beardsworth said.
"Three years ago I rehabbed two squirrels, the following year we rehabbed maybe 40 once I got licensed and this year its up over 100."
Thus Lisa's Little Rescue was born.
Lisa moved back to Winnebago a few years ago which made running the wildlife sanctuary more plausible.
Everything from squirrels, opossums, chipmunks, rabbits and all other little furry critters that need help end up in her care.
Unfortunately, the derecho that swept through the stateline in August caused a surplus of animals thrown from their homes.
Luckily for those critters, Lisa was ready to come to the rescue.
She decided she needed to expand to help more animals.
"There wasn't anywhere for these animals to go so my husband and some volunteers decided to put an addition on to house all the animals," Lisa said.
From the indoor addition, to multiple outdoor enclosures and an entertainment area that is still under construction, Lisa has put in a lot of work to provide a home for these animals while they get back to full strength.
It all circles back to Lisa's knack for connecting with the woodland critters which often leads to her being inspired by their tenacity.
"When you get these very tiny babies that are dehydrated and starving and to see them bounce back for a few days of just getting good nourishment, getting adequate heating supply and good food and a little bit of love. It's very rewarding," Beardsworth said.
As rewarding as the work is, it does take its toll.
Lisa runs the entire rescue mission on her own, outside of some help from her husband.
Lisa's Little Rescue runs independently from any other federal group that would get them any funding for their mission.
"We get zero financial support. I work to pay for this. That's why I have a job," Beardsworth said.
The sanctuary does get some support through donations from the community which is ultimately who Lisa's Little Rescue is trying to help.
Lisa wants to be there to educate people if one of these animals ends up in their home or on their property so they know what steps to take to help them.
"When people come across wild animals that need help, they don't know what to do. Animal Services doesn't deal with wild animals. They handle cats and dogs," Beardsworth said.
"The animals can really overcome quite a bit. They are very resilient provided the person that finds them gets help right away."
Lisa is ready and willing to answer every call for help, animal or human.
With the ultimate goal to help these animals find their families again, Lisa hopes to find help herself in volunteers who want to join the mission of rehabbing and returning these animals home.
"The bigger we grow the more animals we can take and the more people we can help," Beardsworth said.
If you are interested in learning more about what Lisa's Little Rescue does or if you want to join the cause, click here.
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