British Columbia

'I heard some terrible screeching and screaming': Victoria, B.C., man rescues baby squirrel

Peter Wheaton says he couldn't just stand by and let a baby squirrel get attacked by a murder of crows.

'We've got to try and do something to save this poor chap'

The BC SPCA Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre says it was touch and go for a while, but Rocky the squirrel should pull through. (BC SPCA Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre)

While recently walking to work one morning in Victoria, B.C., Peter Wheaton heard cries of distress.

It didn't take long for Wheaton to discover the source of the noise — an infant squirrel on the pavement being attacked by crows.

"I could hear this terrible screeching and screaming," recalled Wheaton during CBC's All Points West.

"Every time they pecked him he screamed again ... He couldn't do anything, he was totally exhausted."

After shooing away the crows, Wheaton picked up the bloodied animal, now dubbed "Rocky," and carried it the remaining distance to his office.

Upon seeing the injured animal, Wheaton said staff at the office quickly jumped into action.

"Everyone said we've got to try and do something to save this poor chap."

"We decided we better call him Rocky because he was hanging in there and doing his best," he added, a homage to the famous fictitious boxer from movies.

They loaded Rocky into a box and took it to the local animal hospital, where it was then transported to the BC SPCA Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre (ARC).

Wheaton hopes that when Rocky is better, he might be able to move into a thicket of oak trees in his backyard. (BC SPCA Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre)

Beyond wounds and a broken paw, Rocky was suffering from extreme dehydration, and its survival was touch and go for a while.

On Thursday, Wheaton received an email from the rehabilitation centre, saying Rocky was doing much better and staff believe the squirrel will survive.

Rocky has been placed with a surrogate mother and is gaining weight, which is a good sign.

Wheaton acknowledged that in certain circumstances nature should be left to take its own course. However, he said when witnessing suffering first hand, it can be difficult not to step in.

"When you see such a lovely creature struggling like that with no self-defence, I don't think you can just turn away," said Wheaton.

"Whether it's an individual on the street or an animal, I think it's up to all of us to try and do what we can to help out."

Rocky has now become a mascot for fundraising efforts spearheaded by Wheaton's office, the proceeds of which will go towards the rehabilitation centre.

With files from All Points West