Over the past 35 years, 85-year-old Gunther Golina has rescued and released dozens of eagles back into the wild, but his latest attempt put him in the hospital and left his animal rescue efforts in a bit of a bind.

"When you deal with wild animals...occasionally no matter how much you watch out, you get scratched or bitten because they're freaked out. They're hurting. They're injured," said Golina, co-owner of the Prince Rupert Wildlife Shelter.

Gunther Golina

Gunther Golina, 85, co-runs the Prince Rupert Wildlife Shelter with his wife Nancy. (Gunther Golina)

While Golina is used to the occasional scratch, this last one put him in the hospital for six days with a serious case of blood poisoning that nearly cost him his leg. 

"I don't know if [the eagle] felt cornered or something, but he put his talons in my right boot, and a couple of them went right into the muscle.

"A scratch outside is one thing, but if it gets right into the muscle it's a little bit of a time bomb," he said.

Shelter in need of help

With Golina on the mend, his wife Nancy has borne the brunt of the responsibility for caring for all the other 78 animals housed at the shelter. 

"We're a team, and when one of us falls out, it's pretty tough going."

Golina is recovering well and said this injury is not going to stop him from returning to the work he loves.

"Any animal that cannot look after itself in the wild, we have to do the kind thing."

The couple is asking people to donate their time and money to help the shelter resume normal operations.

To hear the full interview with Gunther Golina, listen to the audio labelled: Prince Rupert wildlife shelter needs help after eagle scratch puts 85-year-old owner in hospital.