Saturday, May 30, 2015

I BRAKE FOR CRITTERS!

by Mary Kennedy               
                                                               
 
 
Naturally, we all brake for cute, cuddly cats and dogs crossing the road, but do you brake for other creatures?  I do! (sometimes to the annoyance of drivers behind me.) What do they expect me to do? Run over wildlife? Geez.
The other day, a slow-moving turtle was crossing the road. Luckily it was a back road without much traffic. This turtle was REALLY slow. Seriously, if he moved any slower, you could probably harvest his organs.
                                                         
 
I decided to just put the car in park and wait. And then...oh no! I heard a car coming up the hill towards me--and towards Mr. Turtle who clearly had a death wish.  I grabbed a beach towel from the back seat, jumped out of the car and raced to save the turtle.
At that very moment, the car rounded the hill and I saw that it was a pizza delivery truck. A teen-ager got out and raced over to help me lift the turtle (who was surprisingly heavy) off the road. We deposited him in a neighboring field. I thanked the young man for helping me and said, "I'm glad you rescue turtles." He just grinned and said, "Of course." 
                                                    
 
I insisted traffic come to a standstill the other day when I saved a raccoon trying to cross a busy road. (What was he thinking?) I became a temporary traffic cop, holding up traffic on 4 lanes so he could safely cross.
 
                                 
 
A couple of years ago, I famously rescued two baby geese who were separated from their parents and scooting down a busy highway. I saw their parents cross the road with their brood, but these two little rascals decided not to stick with the group and to beeline down the highway instead. A disaster in the making. People waited for the parents to cross the road with their baby geese but I was the only one looking out for these two "renegade" geese who seemed to be on a suicide mission.
I pulled onto the slow lane, put my blinkers on and chased these foolish babies for what seemed like several blocks. Cats were whizzing by me but miraculously, no one was hurt. I scooped up the geese and walked back on the concrete divider (it was a 4 lane highway). Now that I had the geese, I had no idea what to do next!! Luckily some workers at a pizza joint had seen the whole drama and came running out to help me. Apparently the parents and babies were fond of swimming in the pond behind the restaurant. So I went behind the restaurant, found the pond and deposited the babies who were thrilled to be reunited with their squawking parents.                                              
 
 
Last week-end, I spotted something green lying in the road in our neighborhood. While my husband stopped the car, I jumped out to see it was a snake. I peeled off my blouse (don't worry, it wasn't a hubba-hubba moment, I had a stretched-out old tank top underneath) and carefully lifted the snake out of the road and laid him in the grass at the entrance to a state park.  
 
 
So how about you? Do you brake for critters and rescue them when possible? When I told my friend about running down 4 lanes of traffic to rescue the baby geese, she said, "You're a good person, Mary. Totally insane, but a good person."
 
Mary Kennedy

26 comments:

Lynda Turpin said...

Wow - you are an animal superhero Mary.

Years ago, my niece and I were driving to Las Vegas (about a 10 hour drive). We stopped at a rest area, and I walked a ways out into the desert to take a picture of a cool looking cactus. I saw this little dog hiding in the high dead grass. She was cautious, but seemed friendly. I called my niece over and we found that there were actually two dogs. They obviously knew each other, and we checked around the rest stop (which was in the middle of nowhere) and they didn't belong to anyone - they had probably been dumped. A couple there with some dogs gave us some of their dry dog food and we got them some water. We sat on the grass and they climbed into our laps and fell asleep from exhaustion. The temps were in the 100's during the day, and we figure they were probably coming up at night and getting water from the sprinklers.

If we had been heading home instead of to Vegas, we would have taken them home with us. But since that wasn't an option, we checked the phone book for a local shelter. Unfortunately, the closest was two towns back. So, we packed them in our car and back tracked to that town. Unfortunately, it was a Sunday and the shelter was closed, so we located a Sheriff's station. No one was there, either, but there was a phone to call in case of emergency. We got hold of a dispatcher who arranged for someone to meet us at the shelter. By the time we got the dogs settled, (and a reassurance that they were sure the girls would have a good chance of being adopted quickly), we had basically lost one whole day of our 3 day vacation, but we had no regrets.

Anonymous said...

Years ago I was driving through the South on non-freeway roads and saw a family of turtles crossing the road. I stopped as did all the other cars coming both directions. The town even had "Turtle Crossing" signs posted. I try to avoid the kamikaze squirrels on the roads and in parking lots. Unfortunately, I did hit a flock of quail who were marching across the autobahn in Germany as the road was snow-packed and I couldn't stop without crashing the car. I also hit and killed a dog who ran directly toward my car. I just couldn't stop in time but totally fell apart when I got to work. I had stopped at the shelter to report the accident, but the shelter wasn't open yet. One of my co-workers held me while I cried and then made the call to the shelter for me. I still hate driving at that spot but can't avoid it. Cordella

Jen Scott said...

I always stop whenever I see animals crossing the road (though not everyone is happy with me). I can't deliberately to that to any animal (including squirrels!).

mary kennedy said...

Lynda, that was a wonderful thing to do. It's horribly inconvenient when we come across stray animals when we're on vacation, but as one of my friends always reminds me, "You're their only hope." 99% of people will just pass them by. So you did that!

mary kennedy said...

Hi Jen, me too! I also feed squirrels every day and some of my neighbors are less than thrilled with me. Thanks for stopping by!

mary kennedy said...

So sorry that happened to you, Cordella. The same thing happened to me when I was driving on a busy road in NC. I managed to avoid a dog crossing the street, but hit the second one who was right behind him. I was incredibly upset and had to cancel my appointments for the day. It's very distressing...

Fred said...

Hi Mary, funny you should mention this today. I had just taken Duncan out yesterday morning, when the neighbor to the east of me came out and asked what was on the neighbor to the west of me car. It seems a baby robin had gotten a leg caught in the gap between the hood and the fender. About the time I got to the car the neighbor came out to leave for work and I asked her to release the hood. It fluttered to ground and made a hasty exit. Another story of baby geese happened many years ago, I worked at an automobile dealership and it was a nice Spring day, so all the overhead doors were open. Here comes mama duck with her brood waddling behind her, in the front door, past the service write-up desk and out the back overhead door. Across the parking lot and down the street to, I guess, a retention pond down the street.

mary kennedy said...

Hi Fred, glad you did your good deed for the day and rescued the robin. We are kindred spirits! That is funny about the ducks family on their day's outing. Thanks for stopping by and have a great week-end!

Diane LaBrie Leverson said...

I don't get out and rescue them but I do stop and let them cross the road. Many years ago when we were first married and in an apartment, I was looking out the window and saw a baby bird in the middle of the street. Not a busy street. He must have fallen out of the nest. I did go out and pick him up but the parents were swooping at me and I dropped him. He was ok and cars were lining up. A neighbor saw me and came running out to help. He put the baby back in the bushes with the parents going crazy. I hope the baby made it. We had a lot of wildlife at my house when I had a house, but all seemed to take care of themselves. So far my birds in the nest over my patio seem to be ok co-existing with me out there. Bessie, my cat, loves to watch them from my bed. She is an indoor cat.

Lisa Ks Book Reviews said...

Mary, I knew I like you right away for more than just your wonderful writing. We are kindred heart animal lovers. I've lost count of the number of turtles have help move across the street. Even took one to the ASPC because he had been hit and his shell was cracked. (They were going to put him to sleep because of other gory details I won't get into, but I knew he wouldn't suffer much longer.) Have done the same for wounded birds. I saw an insured Coopers Hawk and ended up climbing under an evergreen tree to catch him. Took him to a bird rescue up state about an hour away. :-( his spine was broken, but again, he was going to be out of pain.

My younger sister and I went to Target one day and the was a Momma duck and 8 or 10 of her ducklings walking around in the busy parking lot! I knew WAY on the other side of the parking lot and then around the back, there was a pond. Yes, I got out of the car and herded them for over 20 minutes to get them all to the pond. People were coming out of the store laughing, some offered to help but I was afraid they would scare them. But we made it to the pond! Had to cross a busy service road. Thank goodness as we were crossing, I turned and saw my little sis blocking a lane with her car. ROFL...I'm surprised I didn't end up on YouTube!

And props to you for saving the snake. I'm afraid to pick them up. Never thought about stripping down and using my clothes to do it. Way to go above and beyond, Mary. ;-)

Linda Reilly said...

About a year ago, on my way home from work, I was driving along Route 3 in New Hampshire, a pretty busy road. All at once I saw that traffic had screeched to a halt in both directions. A wild turkey and her little turkey-ettes were crossing the road in single file and taking their sweet time. Gave me a chuckle, but I was sure glad the cars had been able to stop in time to let them cross.

Margaret said...

Yes, absolutely yes. The bottom line; they were here first. When I see critters that have been killed by cars all I can imagine is a person wrapped up in their own superiority that they see no worth in anyone or anything else. Basically they only care about themselves.
There has been an increasse in auto/pedestrian accidents in our area. The bottom line is drivers don't even pay attention to humans, so why would they care about a helpless animal.
They say the measure of a society is how it care for the weakest members.

krosenell19 said...

When traveling anywhere I always stop to let the critters cross. My biggest fear are the deer, because if you see one there are usually more coming behind. Also when I see a dead animal on the road I make the sign of the cross and say "Go with God little critter". My husband used to laugh at me and asked me who ordained me to bless the animals. But then pretty soon he would say "look there is one" and now I catch him doing it. We all have to take care of our blessed creators because we also are one.

Sue said...

I'm always braking for critters on our roads----and some people have given me the finger for it---but I just ignore them.

mary kennedy said...

Linda, I'm glad too! Thanks for stopping by. I'd love to see a photo of the "turkey-ettes."

mary kennedy said...

Sue, I hear ya about getting the finger! And getting blasted with car horns...still, it's a small price we pay for helping these animals, thanks for stopping by.

mary kennedy said...

Truer words were never spoken! Thanks so much for stopping by.

mary kennedy said...

Margaret, I feel the same way, we are kindred spirits. Thank you so much for stopping by.

mary kennedy said...

Hi Lisa, I can just picture you herding the ducklings! I was amazed at how fast those things are. The baby geese I rescued were literally flying down 202 in Wilmington. I had a terrible time catching then because the little devils split up and went in different directions. Yes, we are definitely kindred spirits!

mary kennedy said...

HI Diane, my cats love to line up at the glass sliders on the porch and stare at the birds. It's like television for them! Thanks so much for stopping by and I'm glad you picked up the baby bird.

Liz Straw said...

I recall playing a game with my brother, SIL, and mother where a person pulled a card from the deck and the other players had to guess if you would do what was stated on the card or not. My question was, "If you hit a cat,would you stop to see if it was hurt or not?" No hesitation my SIL said, "Yep, she would stop and go door to door finding out if the cat belonged to someone."
I could not argue, because a few days earlier, I slammed on my breaks (didn't even look to see if someone was behind me), jumped out of the car to see if a cat that bolted across the road was injured or not. No injured cat. Think I still had tears running down my face.

When I worked in TN, our office was in an old Mansion on several acres of undeveloped land. We even had a decrepit barn and a few sheds scattered on the property. (Antebellum house). One day some one in the office came in screaming there was a giant snake outside. Ended up to be a Black Racer.
I was too late the maintenance men had killed it. I lectured those two men about killing the snake and said the only thing it did on our property was to eat vermin like mice and rats. One of them finally asked me what I would have done. I told them I would try and move it towards the barn and if it did not cooperate I would pick it up and move it.

Most of the men, maintenance and office co-workers thought I was crazy. I just threw my arms up in the air and and asked them if they knew of anyone bit by a black racer? and walked away from them. I was boiling.

mary kennedy said...

Liz, I feel the same way! I would have been furious. A jerk in the store was bragging about killing a snake with a hoe...he didn't even know what kind of snake it was. He just decided to kill it.

Lisa Ks Book Reviews said...

I was wondering what road you were on. 202?! You're very luck you and the geese weren't smushed! LOL Now I can see you on 202!

Mary Jane Maffini said...

We do brake for critters. My daughter, Virginia, used to say we needed a bumper sticker that said, WE BRAKE FOR BIRDS. But we do brake for birds too.

Great post, Mary!

Hugs.

MJ

mary kennedy said...

Hi MJ, thanks for stopping by!

Vicki W. said...

Yep...brake (when I can safely) for critters. Yep....stop to move turtles across the road in the direction they are going. Snakes if they aren't venomous.

One time I went to the grocery store and found 2 grocery store clerks outside, trying to remove flypaper from a bird. It was a great crested fly catcher or a cat bird (can't remember now). Poor thing lost tons of feathers and was yelling loudly. The girl was practically in tears about the whole thing.

So..instead of going grocery shopping I had them get something for me to put the bird in and I took it home (it ended up being a cookie/baked goods box.) Once home, found a better box to put the poor thing in. Then spent ages finding where a wildlife rehabber that took in birds. Then drove it there. I can't remember if I ever made it to the grocery store that day or not but at least I didn't get stuck in rush hour traffic on the way back home.

The bird itself was fine, it just couldn't have lived outside since it was missing so many tail and wing feathers.