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Chubby rehabbed pup Paz returns home to Puget Sound

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Harbor seal pup Paz, rescued by Seal Sitters from a public West Seattle beach shortly before Christmas, was returned to the vast expanse of Puget Sound yesterday, following a lengthy rehab at PAWS Wildlife Center. At right, the now-tubby pup pauses on the edge of a Coast Guard boat, shortly before disappearing in the water - back home at last.

In December, the female pup was suffering from seizures on a cold and wet afternoon at Jack Block Park, notorious for illegally off-leash dogs. Seal Sitters first responders, authorized members of NOAA’s West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network, transported the hypoglycemic and largely unresponsive pup for evaluation at the Lynnwood facility, fearing she would require euthanasia. PAWS rehabbers were able to stabilize and hydrate her and Paz began a long recovery after a tenuous couple of weeks.

Severely emaciated and weighing only 12.8 kgs when rescued, the estimated 7-9 month-old pup was a true “blubberball” at her release on Monday, tilting the scale at 35 kgs (75 lbs). Pups are weaned around 4 weeks of age and are then entirely on their own, often struggling to survive wet fall and winter months. Click here to view a map of harbor seal pupping season in Washington.

It should be noted that only members of NOAA’s Marine Mammal Stranding Network - or their authorized agents - can legally handle and transport marine mammals. It is a violation of Federal Law to touch, feed, move or harass marine mammals. If you see a seal pup on the beach, please contact your local stranding network (network map here).

Thanks to PAWS dedicated staff for nursing the pup back to health. Huge thanks as well to the US Coast Guard Auxiliary boat crew that released Paz back where she belongs, the culmination of a true team effort (view a video of the release on USCG Facebook page).
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