Best emergency service (2000)

Urban Wildlife Rescue

Seven out of every ten sick, injured and orphaned critters that limp into Jack and Penny Murphy's nonprofit animal-rescue center walk out again. As a result, this husband-and-wife team -- also known as Coon Papa and Bat Lady -- are sought out by veterinarians, animal-control officers, police and homeowners statewide. For the past ten years, they've rescued and rehabilitated everything from bats to raccoons, coyotes, foxes, squirrels and practically anything else that slithers, flaps or crawls. He got his nickname for his kinship with raccoons and she got hers for her kinship with the flying mammals. From an impossibly cluttered home in Aurora, Jack and Penny have shown that there are more humane ways of handling wild creatures than traps, gas chambers and trips to the pound. The couple nurtures the animals back to health and releases them into the wild. And if you need help getting squirrels from your attic, they can do that, too. Just tune the radio to Rush Limbaugh, Jack says. "That clears the room real quick."

Readers' choice: 911

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