The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it – Albert Einstein
This quote has been in my mind all day. This morning while driving to work i saw several geese in the road. Thinking they were trying to cross the road, i slowed down. Then i saw that one of the geese had been hit by a car still alive and flapping his wings, and the other geese were flocking around him to protect him, it seemed. There was a lot of traffic flying by. No one slowing down or stopping. I quickly pulled off the road and called PETA’s emergency after hours number. If this poor being was hurt and suffering, i wanted to do anything i could to help. As i quickly walked to the goose, in the rain, dodging traffic which neither stopped or slowed down, another car hit him. By this time i am becoming very emotional and not thinking as logically as i typically would. The fieldworker on the other line of the phone instructed me to pick up a stick along the way, to safely determine if the goose was still alive or not. Once i got to the goose, he was now motionless, all of his flock that were there beside him a minute ago were gone. I lightly touched the inside corner of his eye to search for a reflex, twitch or any sign of life. I was too late. He was already gone. At least he was no longer suffering. With PETA still on the line she told me that i had done all i could, i did the right thing and that there was nothing else i could do at this point. She asked if i could get the poor dead soul to a median or off the road, as i was standing beside him, in the middle of the road, in the rain in busy traffic, another truck ran over him… while i stood right there beside him. At that time she instructed me to get out of the road because it wasn’t safe for me, and she didn’t want me to get hit. As i walked back to my car, in the rain, in a not so nice area of Norfolk, i cried and cried. I tried but i was too late. But all those other people, who sped by. Not slowing down, not stopping – but rather still continuing to run over him, while i stood right there. How can people be that way?
When i got to work i was so upset, so sad, so angry and so disappointed. I saw this in my mind all day long, on the verge of tears all day. For people to act like a life is so insignificant, so unimportant – it makes me ashamed to be a part of this human race… that is so callous, so uncaring, such a lack of empathy. Every life is significant, important, precious… human and animal.
If you see an animal along the side of the road, in distress, suffering, pleading for help, PLEASE do not be one of those people who drive by and look the other way, who ignore it and go along with your day. Be the exception. Stop and provide any assistance you are able to give. Help this poor suffering soul. You can call PETA’s emergency line, local or national, and they will walk you through what to do, help keep you calm, and send help if necessary.
If you happen to be in such a situation:
• Remain calm. Be sure to note your exact location, including mile marker if you are on a highway.
• Immediately and carefully pull over and put your hazards on. Please be extremely aware of the traffic around you and exercise caution. You won’t be saving any animals if you get hit yourself. Be careful and don’t take risks that you don’t need to take.
• Determine if the animal is dead or alive. Some ways to do so:
1. Is the animal stiff? This would mean that s/he’s been deceased for some time.
2. Is the animal breathing? With furry animals the wind can fool you so look carefully. Injured animals often labor to breathe or breathe rapidly – observe the chest and abdominal area for movement.
3. If an animal is still warm to the touch but you note no breathing or other signs of life, gently pinch a back toe to see if the animal pulls back. If safe and feasible, you may also gently position your finger against the animal’s eye to test for a blink reflex.
• Unless you are trained and have experience, do not attempt to move injured animals without assistance from a trained individual. Some animals, including foxes and raccoons, may be rabid and could pose a danger to you and/or your animal companion. Animals who have been hit/injured—including dogs and cats–are more likely to bite out of pain, fear and panic. So before you try to move anyone, call for help.
• Call your local animal control agency or police dispatch, or, if you can’t reach a live person, do not hesitate to call 911. Calmly state your emergency: “I am calling for an animal control officer. I have just found an injured animal who has been hit on highway 464, heading north, and the animal is still alive. This animal is suffering very badly and needs help. Can you please send an animal control officer right away? I am pulled over next to the animal, and we are between the 64/464 entrance ramp and exit 2/Military Highway. I am in the red pickup truck.” It’s never a bad idea to ask for the officer’s ETA. I also recommend checking back in with dispatch if an officer is not on-scene within a few minutes.
• Do not leave the scene. This is so important. Do not leave that animal. What if the officer cannot find her? What if the seemingly impossible happens and she crawls into the woods and can’t be found? You absolutely 100 percent cannot leave the scene until the safety of the animal is secured. Wait for that office to arrive please.
Of course, never ever hesitate to call PETA for advice and guidance. During the day, just call 757-622-PETA and have us paged. Afterhours, in Hampton Roads, call 844-441-9398, and for afterhours emergencies anywhere else, call 757-434-6285. Program these numbers into your cell phones please.
From working at PETA, i knew this information and had these numbers, but i wanted to share this so that anyone who reads this has these numbers and are equipped with the information and knowledge to be the rare compassionate souls who help, rather than one who turns a blind eye.