Jill Horstmann, founder of Squirrelly AF Rescue

by | Nov 29, 2023

Jill Horstmann–founder of Squirrelly AF Rescue, a squirrel-focused rescue and rehabilitation operation she runs at her St. Petersburg home—recalls growing up in Wisconsin, where she was that neighborhood kid who tended to injured or ill critters. But it’s hardly been a straight line from Jill Horstmann, Kid Animal Rescuer to Jill Horstmann, Adult Animal Rescuer—though in her late teens, she did work as a vet tech. That gave way to working in local television in, the fruition of a desire that began as a childhood fascination with making videos. That realm didn’t turn out to meet her expectations, or standards, so she plunged into the bar world, spending years bartending and managing taverns—but Horstmann being Horstmann, during that period she also informally ran a small dog rescue, she notes. She describes the origin of Squirrelly AF—origins, really. That is, the rescue’s history tends to mark 2017 as the official beginning, in the wake of Hurricane Irma, when many people contacted her for help with squirrels that the storm had left injured or orphaned. But the reason they reached out to Horstmann then: Several years prior, she had rescued some squirrels—with no background or experience, not unlike those childhood days in Wisconsin, when she jumped into helping wounded animals—and posted about those instances on social media. And make no mistake, social media is pivotal to Squirrelly AF’s success—Horstmann says the nonprofit recently reached 16,000 followers on Facebook, crucial for outreach and marketing of course, but also significant for connecting her with various resources, including fellow squirrel rescuers and other wildlife rehabbers. (While her focus remains squirrels, she has widened out her services over the last year to additionally care for raccoons and opossums.) She explains that at the beginning, she funded Squirrelly AF with her own money; now, as a 501 (c ) (3) nonprofit organization, she welcomes donations: there are a lot of mouths to feed–the rescue typically houses 50-60-plus animals at any given moment, many of whom require squirrel formula, as well as medicine and other supplies. Horstmann fields several, mostly squirrel-related, questions from callers and emailers. (https://squirrellyaf.org/, https://www.facebook.com/ImSquirrellyAF, https://www.instagram.com/squirrellyaf/, https://www.tiktok.com/@squirrellyaf.247)

COMEDY CORNER: Sarah Silverman “Squirrels” (https://sarahsilvermanmerch.com/)

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” Jimmy Buffett’s “Like My Dog,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE:  We didn’t play “Name That Animal Tune” today.


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