The patron saint of roadkill

I love my long commute.  However, I hate the animal carnage I see daily.

When I hit something with my car, and I’m not on a busy highway, I go back to the scene to make sure the animal is not suffering.  I also want to pull it out of the road so it doesn’t get pancaked by traffic.

I think this makes me fairly unique (translation: weird) because most drivers tend to keep going, whether out of callous indifference or because they cannot bear to see the remains of the animal they hit.

I’ve stopped for squirrels, turtles, ducks, cats, foxes.  You name it, I’ve pulled it out of the road, though I draw the line at skunks and porcupines for logistical (no gloves) reasons.  A full-grown fox was the biggest animal I’ve pulled out of the road so far.

I believe that if you hit it, you need to take care of it.  So often, drivers don’t take responsibility for what they have done with their cars.  Same as I wouldn’t hit a human and run, neither do I hit animals and leave them there in the road unless it is simply too dangerous to go back and risk a collision.  Obviously picking a squirrel off the 101 or 103 is a recipe for disaster.  I’m sure the squirrel would understand.

Once I saw a cat hit by the car in front of me.  The driver didn’t go back, so I did.  The cat did not survive, and I wasn’t sure what to do with it, so I wrapped it in an old afghan and took it to a local veterinary clinic so the body could be disposed of.  I also figured the owners might contact the clinic looking for their lost cat.  The person at the clinic promised to take down the cat’s description for when this happened.  It was all I could do.

Another time, my mother and I found a still-alive kitten on the road.  I am no vet, but it was obvious the cat was injured critically and needed to be put out of its misery.  We found someone still awake at that late hour and he kindly promised to take care of the kitten, though I never know what he did do to it.  Nature probably took care of euthanizing it.  The man promised to bury the wee thing.

A couple of years ago, I found a turtle on the yellow line on a busy road.  I turned around so I could pick it up and put it in the ditch (hopefully on the side he was trying to get to.)  On my way back, a pickup hit it, possibly on purpose.

By the time I got to it, the little painted turtle had a cracked, bleeding shell.  I felt awful picking it up, hoping I wasn’t hurting it, and placed it in the ditch.  I regret not taking it home.  I don’t know if it survived, or a bird swooped down and killed it.  It’s hard to know what nature does; sometimes it’s not so kind.

I’m so glad I stopped, though.  Not long after saving the turtle, I was almost run over by a dump truck on the same corner (while not saving a critter, I’d like to add.)  I was only feet from having a dump truck collide with my car.  It was a miracle nothing happened.  I like to think the good karma I earned saving the turtle kept me safe that day through some divine intervention of the universe.

I think it is this situation has led me to feel that I must go back.  It’s my responsibility

Just this week, I found a hurt duck in middle of one lane.  He didn’t move until I tried to pick him up.  Then he flapped his wings wildly, unable to get up off the ground.

A neighbour came along thinking I had car trouble, and promised to call someone who had a farm.  Since I was on my way to school, I had to trust someone would come for the duck.  By the time I left the scene, the duck was safe in the ditch.  I hated to leave, but had to because I was already late.  I hope he is on that farm today.

I am an animal lover, and it breaks my heart to do my little rituals, yet I cannot drive by and think of an animal suffering.  Maybe I missed my calling in wildlife rehabilitation.  At least I’m not stupid enough to try selling a fawn on Kijiji.  (Yes, this actually happened; they wanted $300 for the deer.)

So if you see me pulled over the side of the road, my car is probably not broken down: I’m probably administering some form of last rites to a squirrel.

Amazing how even the most desolate of roads are often inhabited by critters.

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