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  • Aug
  • 16

Panic and the Woodchuck

Posted by at 3:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (26)

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“Panic” is my middle name. I’m not one of those people who can keep a clear head during an emergency. Instead, my emotions take over, causing my heart to race, my stomach to churn, and my breath to quicken.

Just last weekend, I was only a block from my home when I saw what I thought to be a gravely injured cat in the middle of the road. As my car passed by, my eyes locked on his, and I knew that I could not ignore his struggle for life. I knew what I was supposed to do but found myself trembling and overpowered with fear. I pulled over (erratically, of course) and called my husband for help. Then I rang the police with my still-shaking hands. They were overloaded with calls, and the operator said they’d try to send a police car later. Try?!

I then phoned a local veterinary clinic and was told that they could administer care or provide humane euthanasia if needed, but I’d have to bring in the animal myself. After discovering that the local animal control office was closed, I called PETA’s Emergency Response Team,  who confirmed that I’d done everything I needed to and encouraged me to retrieve the dying cat from the road.

By now, I was in tears and feeling quite nauseous, but with the help of my calm husband, Christopher, I knew that we could manage to bring the dying cat to the vet. Christopher arrived with a big box punctured with air holes, old towels, thick gloves, a shovel, and our 5-year-old daughter. (No one else was available to watch her—highly inconvenient!) But we couldn’t afford to waste another minute. I blocked traffic with my car while Christopher backed his Jeep onto the busy suburban street and placed the cat in the cardboard box. When we regrouped, Christopher told me that the cat was actually a woodchuck and that he was near death. Oh, my. That changed everything.

I called the clinic again to say that we were bringing in the animal and that, by the way, he’s a woodchuck. They replied that they didn’t handle wildlife, so we could not bring him there. Wildlife emergencies require special preparations.

The woodchuck’s suffering ended within minutes of our call to the clinic. Although we couldn’t save him and we were too late to relieve his suffering, we found comfort in knowing that he did not die on the asphalt, overcome by heat and frightened of the sounds of cars passing by. Instead, he was secure in a dark box in a quiet car, on top of soft blankets.

That day is one I will not soon forget. It is also one that I hope my daughter will remember as the day she learned that we all must do what we can, whenever we can, to help animals.

This post was written by Christine Leible, a major gifts officer with the PETA Foundation.

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  • Holland says:

    I’m inspired by Carol’s and her husband’s courage and compassion for the poor woodchuck. There are very useful links within this story I am making note of, so I can be prepared for any animal in need I encounter — domestic or wild.

    Thank you.

  • regina sigal says:

    I just started to cry but I would’ve done the same thing. It happened to me
    a couple of times.

  • Marcia says:

    I’m very sorry for what happened to the poor woodchuck but am also relieved that he did not die alone and uncared about on the road. Sometimes doing our very best isn’t enough to save a life, but we can offer compassion and care at the end.

  • Adriana Perciballi says:

    Thank you for your kindness and compassion!!

  • Michael says:

    Just last week my boyfriend and I were walking in a park when we spotted a sick or injured squirrel right on the pathway. She was acting strangely. There were two men sitting on a bench not far from the squirrel. I went to ask them if they saw something – perhaps the squirrel was attacked by a dog or something – they said they didn’t see anything like that but that the squirrel had been rolling around and acting very strangely the whole time. But they just continued with their day and ignored her!!!!! They didn’t even move away – just sat nearby and watched her suffer! My boyfriend and I managed to get the squirrel to a wildlife centre. I went to a nearby restaurant for a box and gloves and was told how amazing I was for doing this because they would not have bothered!!! I wasn’t amazing – I was just kind and caring. Is being kind and caring such a rarity?

    I want to say that you did the right thing by ‘interrupting’ your day to help a precious, innocent, hurt soul. I wish everyone would be like us. Hopefully we will help clue others in by our example. I will say a prayer for your little woodchuck. I don’t know yet what became of my squirrel – it seems she may have ingested something poisonous. But please send a prayer her way too! Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Tucker says:




  • Cherry says:

    Just when I give up hope on the entire human race I find new hope in reading an article like this. Thank you so much for giving that little guy a few moments of peace and calm before he died. You are a truly good, humane and compassionate person and you will be rewarded.

  • Vicky Slay says:

    Very sad. I had that happen to me, but it was a rabbit that had head injuries. I brought it home and put it in a cage with some food which it did eat. The next day, I called my vet and he agreed to take the animal although not authorized and told me he would try an injection, but if it didn’t work they would humanly euthenize him. They ended up having to put it to sleep and I felt better that it wasn’t left on the road to get hit again and died a peaceful death. God bless my vet, he knows me well.

  • Daisy says:

    I’m glad to to know that there are people that would rescue a hurting animal in the road. I dread the day I could run into a situation like that because I would freak out and go out of my mind knowing that no one else would share my desire to lift the animal out of the pavement and take it to some one that can do something to help! I guess God gives us the wisdom in any given situation! Cudos!!!

  • Jacqui Lipschitz says:

    Thank God for people like you! My son and I rescued a hurt rabbit once from the middle of a busy, four lane road and took it to our local vet to be helped, and we also felt better for having given it a decent end to its life. It too must have felt scared and helpless while cars uncaringly passed it by.
    I remember feeling invincible while I too held up all those cars to scoop the bunny out of the road!

  • Sandy says:

    I am sad for the little woodchuck, but am very happy to know that there are people with compassion willing to help a dying animal in the middle of the road.

  • judith says:

    The story really touched my heart. Reading…a few tears, it’s comforting to know that there are beautiful and caring souls. Thank you for sharing

  • Cassie says:

    Thank you for what you did for the poor woodchuck. Your kindness will have a ripple affect–especially with your daughter. It always warms my heart when I hear a story like this knowing there are people out there willing to do anything to care for the animals. Your compassion is truly appreciated.

  • Pieranna says:

    I’m always happy (and incredibly surprised…!) to read stories like yours. And like mine, too, because I often do things like that for every kind of animal I meet. Even when I see a bee in danger, I try to save her life (feed her with honey, put her in a box with some leaves or flowers), you can imagine the comments of most of people around me!! But I’m sure the world will go on better and better if people like you (and I) will keep on growing compassion and love showing respect and love for every living being on this earth. Thank you also on behalf of all those innocent creatures.

  • Martin says:

    What was done for these poor creatures deserves a Thank You which apparently you are not looking for, But to care for any creature wild or domestic is commendable. Unfortunately there are not enough caring souls in this world…Your generousity towards these defenseless animals may go unrewarded but you know who you are…God bless.

  • Ellie says:

    I wish more people cared in this world. I see people driving purposely aiming for a pigeon or squirrel in the road. Is there any hope for us?

  • debra bouton says:

    YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND ARE AWESOME PEOPLE!!! Thank you for having a huge heart <3

  • Mark says:

    Thank you so much for all that you did to help this poor little Woodchuck.

  • Donna says:

    What you did for the woodchuck is admirable. What you are doing for your daughter is heroic. She will grow up knowing that we have a responsibility to all of our fellow creatures. It is wonderful knowing that she will influence others. There is hope for the future.

  • Irene says:

    I would like to believe that people like you and me and all of you who posted a comment,people who really care about animals and are willing to do anything to help them,are enough to save this race called “human”.’Cause I am so disapointed in us who call ourselves humans but lost our compassion and we care for noone than ourselves and how to get rich no mater what….Thanks to all of you who care enough to make a change.God bless you..I’ll say alot of prayers for the woodchuck and the squirrel and the rabbit and the pigeon I couldn’t save and all those defenseless creatures that need our love and affection.

  • Jacob Dijkstra, M.D. says:

    My wife and I love animals. However, my wife has a basic fear of mice. Yet, one day she safely stopped her car and, in spite of honking horns, gently maneuvered a mouse, that was disoriented and running in circles, towards safety on the side of the road where it disappeared in the bushes.

    Just a reminder: PETA sells carton boxes with accessories to place hurt animals in that one encounters on the road. Knock on wood, but I fortunately have not had to use it yet. However, the story above reminds me to have all the necessary phone numbers available as well.

  • Timothy P. says:

    Sometimes I feel like I too am in the minority, when it comes to helping animals in an emergency. Yet, reading the above comments encourages me that this in fact should be the norm and the rule, never the exception. When I see others doing these types of things, I only have admiration, not anything else.

  • kate says:

    Thank you for your story, as I can relate and would try to help as well. One day last summer, my heart stopped as I saw a turtle in the middle of the roadway, walking ever so slowly. I pulled over, got out of my car, proceeded to stop traffic in both directions, and luckily 2 other samaritans came to help as well. My story ends well as we were able to get the turtle off the roadway using an open umbrella, it turned out it was a snapping turtle! Whenever I pass by that area of the road, I always do a double take, just to make sure that turtle wasn’t hit, So it lived, yeah!!! If given the opportunity I would do it again. Not everyone would, as the traffic started to go by slowly, someone actually said to me very angrily… “you stopped traffic for a turtle?” Yes, I did and thought to myself, if given the opportunity I would do it again!

  • shirley says:

    I am so glad you stopped to help. I like to think that it made a difference to the woodchuck, just knowing that someone cared enough to help, and that it did’nt have to suffer and die alone. I myself have stopped to help injured animals. A bird that flew into windshield, a cat that was hit by another car, and a squirrill that I myself hit. And I am happy to say that they all survived! So to all who read this, please know that it is very much worth the effort to an animal, whether it survives or not, to be shown warmth and compassion.

  • B.E. says:

    This is to “Michael” who had seen a squirrel rolling around, being sick or something. I just wanted to say that it sounded like you were talking about seeing a pidgeon who had ingested somethinmg called “Avitrol”. This deadly “pest control” chemical is legally given to pidgeons, and whomever else might get a hold of it, to kill pidgeons. It is horrible and terrible and the government makes it legal. Unbelieveable. It was so nice of you to help that squirrel.

  • Rossana says:

    Thank you for what you did with the woodchuck. I would do the same in your place. In fact, I try to save a duck who was trying to fly without the legs (someone hit the duck and injured the spine) and feed it for 2 days then I went to wildlife animal services and they could made nothing more than euthanize him because of the severe injuries. Then I found a little bird that was being bit by a bigger one and again I drove 1 hour to get him to wildlife animal services and again they could not save him. Then I found 2 turtles walking down the road, one very big, the other one medium and those 2 turtles I could save them because I let them go to the lake near where they were. But you have something very positive in your heart, that is you tried to save him and this counts. God bless you!

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