Rabbit On The Road
(Note: if you don’t like depressing stories, take a look at that adorable bunny and close your web browser)
I was out for a run this morning when I witnessed an incredibly depressing sight. I was running near the highway when I noticed, from a distance, the head of a brown rabbit peering over the edge of a curb. Rabbits are a common sight in my town at this time of year; I usually see at least two or three of them on my runs. They generally run away at the sight of people, so I was surprised to see this one standing pat. He looked like he was attempting to get over the curb. As I approached closer, I realized that the bunny was badly injured. I’m not sure if he had been hit by a car or what, but he was not in good shape. His legs were sagging low to the ground and there was blood on them, but he was still alive.
I stopped running for a minute and looked down at him. The situation was pretty dire. Barring some kind of surgical procedure like the one George set up for that squirrel in Seinfeld, this creature was done for. It was frustrating and depressing at the same time, because I knew there was nothing I could do about it. I actually contemplated putting the animal out of it’s misery; better to die quickly than to have to go through prolonged suffering and then death at the hands of some opportunistic crows.
Freshmen year of college, the dorm I lived in had a major mouse problem. The little creatures were all over the place. Eventually, the Resident Assistants put these mouse traps throughout the halls and in some people’s rooms. They were basically just really sticky pieces of paper that the mice would run across and get stuck on. One would think this would be a bit more humane than the traditional mouse trap that is just a piece of cheese and a lever that snaps and breaks the rodent’s back or neck. The problem with these ones, as we learned, is that once a mouse gets stuck on it, it’s pretty much impossible to get them “unstuck.”
So this one day, a mouse got caught in one of the traps. There was a considerable debate over what was to be done with it. Obviously, it was still alive—in fact it kept frantically trying to wriggle free—but there was no way to free it without ripping it’s skin off and killing it. After some considerable debate, this one sort of weird girl announced that, if no one had any objections, she was going to just drop a rock on the poor mouse and end the suffering. People were pretty shocked, but no one really had any idea of what else to do. The mouse made a horrible sound when the rock hit it, but I think everyone was relieved that the whole ordeal was over.
At any rate, I seriously considered doing the same to the rabbit, but ultimately I just didn’t have it in me. I made up my mind to call animal control immediately when I got home and let them handle the situation. After all, they are the experts.
The whole situation got me thinking about little regard humans have for animal life. I see dead animals on the side of the road pretty much all the time. My general reaction is “that’s gross” and then I continue on with my run and my thoughts go back to whatever I was thinking about before. Seeing an animal actually in the process of dying, though, made me think about what actually goes on in an animal’s mind. Obviously something like a rabbit isn’t capable of abstract thought. Still, they do feel fear. I can’t imagine how scared the poor little guy must have been, sitting on a curb with cars whizzing by, knowing that something had gone wrong and knowing that, probably, he wasn’t going to make it, yet still struggling to survive.