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CASTALIA, OH (Toledo News Now) -
Erie County woman is in the running for a big honor: CNN Hero of the Year.
Rutger, of Castalia, has dedicated her life to helping wounded animals. Now her
service is being recognized worldwide.
my children were grown, it just felt like I had to do it," Rutger said. "I did
feel like it was what I was supposed to be doing. It just sort of found me."
helped animals in distress throughout Erie County for years, nursing them back
to health before releasing them back to their homes.
of her patients was a bald eagle, who broke its wing after being clipped by a
jet. While its injuries are too severe to go back into the wild, it now has a
home and is used to teach students and tour groups about protecting wildlife.
percent of what we were taking in were animals that were wrapped in fishing
lines or caught in plastic water bottle rings, all kinds of human materials,"
Rutger explained. "None of that has anything to do with nature, and everything
to do with humans destroying the habitat."
says she didn't go into it for the fame, but being nominated for CNN Hero of
the Year is an amazing honor.
love that our work is being recognized as something of value and a benefit to
the community," she said. "That means so much to me."
enough support, Rutger's non-profit organization, Back to the Wild, could get a
$50,000 check to help with funding, which she says she desperately needs.
top ten finalists for this year's CNN Hero of the Year will be announced on
Thursday. From there, voters will decide who wins.