Saturday, March 17, 2007


Slowly but surely I'm getting back into my old routines.

Regular life. You know. Before Walter went running around having heart attacks and getting triple bypasses and pacemakers and such.

This week, Wednesday through Friday, was our monthly Plant Rescue Week.

AKA *Bulk Day.*

This is when people put out their big debris piles for The Claw to come pick up and cart off to Mt. Trashmore, the landfill.

Hidden in those debris piles are little treasures. Plants and pots that people are throwing away. Poor orphaned things in need of a good home. Usually, this is a happy time for me.

I went through my pain meds too fast this month, getting Walter out the door and back to work. It was way worth it, of course; but it means I'm moving slowly and gently until my refills next Thursday. So I wasn't doing much actual rescuing this week. More like sightseeing, remembering what my town looks like.

I did find one big pile of empty plant pots. I have quite a collection of them already, of every type imaginable. But these were a good size and nicely stacked, so I packed a bunch in a couple of big yard bags and popped them into the car.

Just as I was leaving, the homeowner came outside. He was clearly a bit of local gentry, of the kind gentrifying our little bungalow community. Well-dressed, very well spoken. Did a great job planting a couple thousand bucks' worth of plants in his newly landscaped yard: good taste, too.

But his news wasn't so nice.

He told me, --Be careful, there's a dead possum somewhere in those pots. I'm glad you're taking the pots, don't get me wrong, but we had to kill this possum and I can't quite remember where we put it. It's in a pot somewhere. So be careful.

I'd noticed a faint odor of decomp, but figured it was just trash stuff from the guy's garbage bags.

Oh, yuck.

Not much bothers me. Even roadkill. Still, I hoped I hadn't picked it up.

I went home and started going through the pots.

Sure enough, I smelled that smell again. And discovered a small possum lying curled up in a pot. Not a baby, more like juvenile size.

Then, to my horror, it looked at me and feebly tried to raise its head.

Oh my God. The poor thing.

That motherfucker had beaten it half to death. And then left it, still alive, to suffer in the heat.

Outraged and grieved, I went inside and called the city for the wildlife rescue telephone number. I called them up; they turned out to be the Humane Society, and they asked me to bring the animal in if I could.

Of course. Of course.

I drove out there with the possum in its pot, and the pot in a plastic grocery bag. The people at the wildlife rescue center were wonderful. They thanked me over and over and were patient with my worries. When I said I didn't think the possum would make it, it smelled dead even though it wasn't, they told me the vet was already looking at him, and he'd be put out of his pain and his suffering if that was all they could do. At least he wouldn't hurt any more.


I am not naive. Sometimes folks get a mistaken impression of me because I say things like, *I hate unkindness.* That doesn't make me dumb. People do good things and bad things and to me, the single most important factor in understanding the world and humanity and what's right and what's wrong is this: First comes reality. As much as we can, we need to understand the facts before we make judgements and decisions. Before. I try to see all things clearly, human nature included.

It doesn't surprise me one bit that many people's instant reaction to seeing any wild animal is to kill it without thought. They even brag about it, or worse yet, enjoy it. Like it takes a Real Brave Person to stomp on a lizard. Gee. What a hero, huh?

This person was not unintelligent. He was just a vicious thoughtless fool.

We do NOT *need* to kill possums. That is false. Untrue. Unreal. With very rare exceptions, we don't NEED to kill anything except food animals. Some people don't even eat meat, at that.

When you do kill something, do it fast and do it right. Don't leave an animal suffering because you were too fucking stupid to finish the job right.

Possums are harmless. All he ever had to do was leave it alone. Barring that? Call animal control, let them catch it or kill it. Clearly this one required a professional, because the homeowner didn't do the job correctly.

I didn't have a very good day, yesterday. But that innocent animal sure had it worse. And if I could, I'd like to have that homeowner feel, just for a few minutes, what he made that creature feel. The terror, the pain, the anguish, the hopelessness. The agony of impending death.

Unlike the possum, he deserves it.


GUYK said...

I agree..possums can be pests but if you are gonna kill it make it a clean kill. Besides, beating one like that makes the meat all bloody and it will not be fit to eat..

k said...

Pests in what way, guyk?

Granny J said...

While it won't stop possums(we don't have them up here in the mountains), fencing is on my mind these days. The javelina who have a major trail through my small property are leaving their spoor behind and when there's moisture, it really stinks! Since they are primarily eaters of vegetation, I suppose that it's suitable for fertilize, as they called it in Jax.

But you're right -- anyone who considers a possum, especially a young one, a major pest is a fool and should be caged in a hi-rise.

Jean said...

DAMN!!... I can just picture that poor thing looking up at you... asking WHY?? Breaking my heart.

That man is a useless bastard!

Kirsten N. Namskau said...

Have a nice St. patrick's Day.
I hope everything continue to go the correct way with Walter.
Take care, both of you.

k said...

Granny J, those javelinas can be major pests indeed. When I read on your blog about them eating up some of the carefully planted garden bits I get sympathy pains. I can see why you're thinking, Fence. Fertilize nothwithstanding!

Caged in a high-rise. Yes.

Oh, Jean. It was awful.

Kirsten, thank you. So far he's doing well. He's not too tired, I think, even though he was driving his big truck through this huge snowstorm in our Northeast - Massachusets, New York State, places like that.

Me, I'm sort of lazing around until my doctor appointment on Thursday.

And how did you guess I'm part Irish? :-O !!!

Kenny said...

I have killed my fair share of animals, But I have never been done anything like that. That is just wrong.

k said...

Exactly right, kenny. Death is part of life, and so is killing. But this way? No. It's just wrong.

Cindi said...

That poor little possum! I wonder if it survived?

Recently while at work one of our local cops came in and was "shooting the bull" with me when he came in to pay on his hospital bill. He told me that earlier that night a beaver had appeared on the main street through town and a car hit it. It was still alive and moving erratically all over the street. Animal control was called in and they brought one of those large port-a-pet cages. The beaver had ended up near a storage building by the pizza place and he and the other bystanders were absolutely amazed to watch the female animal control officer softly talk to the beaver. She had the door open on the cage and just kept talking gently to the beaver. Hard to believe but without even touching the beaver, the beaver just slowly walked right into the cage! The cop told me that if he hadn't seen that happen with his own eyes, he wouldn't have believed it. He said they were going to take it to a local wildlife sanctuary where it would be nursed back to good health and released back into the wild. He didn't know how it managed to end up in the middle of town.

Granny J said...

Hah -- I bet there was a creek & the beaver just came down the water course. In our town of pop. 30,000+, javelina wander into the downtown area via the creekbeds.

pepektheassassin said...

So sad, and so true. I feel your anger and your sorrow, and I don't understand this brutal need to kill every creature in sight. This brought tears to my eyes, for the possum, for your caring so much. Again, why I love you.

k said...

Last Tuesday, I called the Humane Society Wildlife Hospital to check on it. They told me the possum didn't make it.

I never thought it could. It was beaten so very badly, it seemed clear to me its injuries were not survivable.

At least they put it down humanely. And I hope, somewhere in its extremis, the animal understood that these humans were here to try to help it.

Cindi, I'm less surprised about that beaver's behavior than the cops were. I spend a lot of time in intimate contact with all kinds of wildlife. Sometimes, somehow, they just know. But boy would I have loved to see that! What a wonderful story.

And God above, I needed a happy ending just now. Thank you, Cindi. That made me feel much better.

granny j, I never thought of a creek! How perfectly sensible. When I used to ride in the desert, the dry washes were a great way to get around.

Especially if you were really, really sure there was no flash flood on the way...heh!

miss assassin, when this whole ordeal went down, there were a lot of people I was thinking about. A lot of my readers, mostly; and my family and Walter. You were filling my mind because I knew you would understand this so well: you were the one who explained to me that in your religion, animals too have souls. I've never forgotten that. I tried to let this one know it was loved and would be better soon, even if death was the only way to get there.

Of course I don't know how much got through to it. But I tried. I tried.

cmw said...

Hello K! This is my first visit to your fine blog. I'm heartbroken about the unnecessary and ridiculous suffering the possum endured. Disgusting, appalling.