Our Peaceable Kingdom
Here, Its Not the Lion thats the Problem
by Veronica Mehigan
It was not uncommon to see the old golden retriever wandering the neighborhood in the rain and snow, and we had grown fond of his sweet and gentle nature. He had been living on Drum Point Road for many years before my husband and I bought our home, and we were not the only ones who found ourselves worrying about the old beggar as he lay on the sun-warmed concrete patches of our icy streets and driveways, looking for a bit of comfort from the cold.
Around the same time each day, he would lumber up to our side door, looking for a handout and a chance to warm his arthritic body on the small heating pad we placed there for him. We could not allow him inside because we have a very old cat, but we did what we could to help him. We called him Buddy, but everyone in the neighborhood seemed to have a different name for him.
He died in January of this year. I had made a beef stew that day and was surprised when he did not show up for the bones. Questioning my neighbors, I learned that he had been killed by a speeding car, at the bend of Drum Point Road. His old body was too slow to get out of the way in time.
His owner had been approached by concerned neighbors on several occasions, but he did not try to hide the fact that he simply did not care. When Buddys lifeless body was brought to his door, his response was Well, what do you want me to do with it? We dont know where the driver of the truck took the body that day, but we do hope the old boy was buried with a little respect. He deserved at least that after his pitiful life on the streets.
Despite his blatant neglect of Buddy, this same man also adopted a small, orange cat last summer and banished her to live outside without food or water. We caught her in our garbage can one day and have been feeding her ever since. Weve tried to capture her, but shes very shy and quick. Our fear is that she is going to appear one of these days with kittens in tow, resulting in more unwanted animals left to fend for themselves in our neighborhood.
Then the ducks of Drum Point Road came under attack. The darling little flock of awkward, skobie/mallards would waddle from house to house on their daily quest for hand feedings and attention. There were over 10 of them at one time, but the entire flock was killed by someone who took advantage of their trust by feeding them rat poison or a similar deadly substance.
Many in the neighborhood looked forward to their daily visits and considered them to be our community pets. A few folks thought of them as a nuisance and worried about their defecating on their lawns or overpopulating our neighborhood. However, we had recently been contacted by a wonderful woman who owns a local farm and was willing to adopt as many as we could capture.
Unfortunately, we did not have the chance to spread the word. The day the cages arrived, they began to die.
As they arrived at our doors, we knew there was a problem. Their usually fluffy, white feathers were yellow, and they were sluggish and unkempt. They tried in vain to fight off the flies that seemed to be eating them alive. As they huddled together, they seemed to look to us for comfort. There was nothing we could do but give them water and watch them suffer and slowly die before us. It was a long and agonizing death before the flock was gone in about four days.
Who will help the animals of Drum Point Road and beyond? Maybe this article will help bring the immediate problem to light, but more people need to become proactive. Mostly, we need to teach our children compassion and respect, so they will grow into adults who care. We all need to understand that God created every living thing, and all have the right to exist in peace. We need to work together to assist those that cannot defend themselves, especially those without voices.
Mehigan comments, she says, to be a voice for the animals.