Thursday, September 29, 2011


I suppose I've been fortunate that after 8 years of living in the greater Toronto area I've never run over a squirrel.  Those guys are *everywhere*, and I'm always on alert.  So when I was driving to our vets office this afternoon, seeing an injured black squirrel flopping in the middle of the street put me in a full panicked alarm.

We live in an urban community.  Lots of people walking on the sidewalks with their dogs.  Seeing the squirrel made me immediately pull over to the side of the road.  As I instinctively opened the back of the SUV to get a towel and a cat carrier, I noticed that people were breezing by the injured squirrel with only a moments glance.  One lady stopped to see me with carrier in hand and said without remorse, "I think it was hit by a car." "No shit, eh?" 

As I got closer to the squirrel, I noticed blood was everywhere.  My heart sank.  The squirrel went on alert and managed to get up and drag himself off the side of the road.  I cautiously opened my cat carrier to see if I could coax him in, but he started to run.  Not really "run", but quickly dragged  himself, with blood trailing.  I ran through the wet grass after him, when a man I couldn't see yelled after me, "JUST HIT HIM WITH A SHOVEL!!"  "asshole."

I never found the squirrel.  I don't know if he's suffering somewhere and the whole incident has completely ruined my day.  How do people look away?  How do they walk by a suffering animal that is in need?  Why was I the ONLY person who seemed to care?

Right now, I wish I didn't care.  I wish I could forget, but now that it's raining outside, I'm sitting here wondering if he's in a place where he's dry.  ARRRRGGGH. 

I suppose there's lots of sadness in the world.  You can go to your local shelter and get the same shitty feeling as I'm feeling now.  My parents are HUGE animal lovers, and it's always ticked me off that they didn't volunteer at their local shelter.  But I get it - they're protecting themselves.  One can only stand so much hurt before you stop getting hurt and start to get pissed off. 

Tonight I'm pissed off.  Not just because of the squirrel, but because dozens of people walked by that hurt little creature.  They're living their apathetic beautiful lives.  Despite all I'm saying now, I'm glad I don't live an apathetic life.  Even if my night is ruined because of a squirrel.  Even so.   


Anonymous said...

OMG Beth!!! How awful for you and the squirrel. This is heartbreaking, I went home thinking about a turtle once, he was trying to cross a highway and got flipped in the air and we couldn't stop, what happened to the poor thing, had me up all night too. We have a ton of squirrels and raccoons in our neighbourhood and people are so insensitive!!! I actually got a letter from a neighbour once because they said that my "bird feeder was attracting raccoons into their yard and if we didn't stop they were going to have to take "precautions"!" I guess they didn't see the squirrel/raccoon feeder and chose to blame it on the birds (haha). They are too stupid to realize the reason why raccoons might be there is because they built at 10,000 sq ft house cutting down the six 50 year old maples that used to be their home!!! I hate people. We are destroying their homes. I just hate people, it helps me get by. LOL

Deb said...

I hear you, Beth. I almost caused an accident one time stopping for a baby squirrel.

Sparkle said...

My human feels exactly the way you do. She does not understand humans who ignore a suffering creature right in front of them. Reading about the squirrel kind of ruined her afternoon too, but like you she'd rather be that way than the other way.

Anonymous said...

I have to tell you about a different story ending - on my street there was a baby squirrel that his rear end and back legs flattened. My neighbour went and got a cat carrier, and he willingly went into it. She called 311 and they advised her to call animal control or wild life services, which she did and they attended within about 30 minutes. So please be heartened, there are many, many kind people here in Toronto.

Ecochica said...

I am so sorry this had to happen to you Beth! Ugh I can't imagine that image that must be playing over and over again in your head. I sincerely hope the squirrel is not suffering anymore and perhaps will wait for you on the other side of rainbow bridge! xoxoxo

Josie said...

Big hugs to you. ((hugs))

Chrissykat said...

You & I have a lot in common...

Anonymous said...

I completely sympathize with you, but I also have to say that there is a line for everyone. There is always a line beyond which we feel we can't do more, where we feel we're carrying all we can handle. I understand not liking where other people put their line, do I ever. I mean, are you a vegetarian? A vegan? Do you wear leather?

How much different is those people walking by that hurt squirrel and other people frying up factory farming bacon in the morning? The same distance between you and that pig is the distance other people feel between themselves and the squirrel (because *they* weren't the ones that hit it with a car).

There's always more we could be doing, even if some days (actually, MOST days) it doesn't feel like that. And pointing to all the good we do and saying, "isn't that enough? how can anyone expect more?" is just falling into the Race To Innocence trap (the idea that you can't be accused of being bad in one area if you're doing good in another).

Beth, I've followed your blog since you were with that rescue BEFORE the last one you were with. I know how much good you're doing and the toll it takes on you. I work in animal rescue too and I sympathize so greatly with all of your struggles and how demoralizing it is to have people not care, to just close their eyes and walk by. But we all have to recognize that the apathy towards animals in pain is just part of a greater societal ideology that there is an "us" and "them", and that it's okay to ignore or outright hurt and exploit the "them"s of this world if it benefits the "us"s.

And we all have to acknowledge our place in that so that we can work towards fixing it.

House of the Discarded said...

Anonymous: Well said!!! Apathy DOES come in all directions, doesn't it!
Thanks for writing -


Caroline said...

Oh Beth, I hear ya, I too am constantly on the look out for squirrels (had to think for a minute how you spell squirrels!)Duh! Anyway, I too don't understand how ppl can run them over and not slow down, I was driving one day and there was a squirrel crossing the road so I slowed down and the only other car on the road driven by an older man actually sped up, I thought to myself if he hits it, I'm gonna loose it! He missed the squirrel Thank God, I don't know how ppl can be so cruel but it's true what anonymous said, I'm not a vegetarian so I know I indirectly cause suffering too. Last year, I found a baby squirrel dead on the sidewalk in a community and I thought to myself how many ppl walked past this dying squirrel, he hadn't been hit by a car so I don't know why he died but I wish I had gotten there sooner.

Good for you for trying to help. It doesn't always work when we try to help but I'm glad u tried!

Did the declawed cats that were on the urgent list make it out?

girL in a coma said...

So many times I found cats hit by cars on the streets of Toronto. Some dying, some dead, some in need of just help, disoriented. I always stopped. And I also made my family and friends stop (it rubs off, in a good way). Even if the cat was dead, I picked it up from the street and called animal services. It pained me to see them get run over and over. One time, a bunch of teens passed by and laughed at the dying cat on the street. I made one of them come and put their hand on the dying cat as it took its last breaths... He cried, and apologized for his behaviour. I told them all that the cat was also a living being, in pain and suffering. I hope it made a difference. It sure has made a huge difference in mine. I do not live in Toronto anymore, I live in Finland, and you don't see such things here. But I still tell kids around here to be kind to animals. RIP to all the kitties I had to hold while dying due to someone's lack of caution and care.