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I picked up a dead animal today …

December 29, 2011

By Sarah Kiser

I picked up a dead animal today. I did. I was driving home, and out of the corner of my eye on a small road, I saw a squirrel lying on the curb. He looked dead to me, but I wasn’t sure. I didn’t see any obvious trauma on his body as I passed by in my car, he almost looked like he was just sleeping, so I thought maybe just maybe he’s alive and just slightly injured. I pulled my car over and I went up to the squirrel. His eyes were closed mostly, and glazed over just a bit, his body was still palpable and warm (but some of the warmth could just be attributed to the sun as it was a warm day today), but yet at the same time felt heavy and as though he was starting to stiffen.

I turned his body over so that he lay on his back so I could check his underside. That side also had no damage. I checked him for signs of life, but I couldn’t find any. His chest did not move, his belly didn’t move, his legs didn’t move, nothing at all…..there was no heartbeat, no sign of life. I watched him for awhile, and checked him again and again to just be completely sure. When I was sure that he was no longer alive, I picked him up gently and moved him to a spot away from the road, atop some mulch surrounded by bushes to kind of shield him, even though he was no longer alive, it felt like the least I could do for him. Surely nicer than leaving him on the curb by a road.

I figured what must have happened to him is that he ran out into the road, and perhaps ran right into the side of a tire as a car was passing. The impact of that could have killed him without leaving any visible signs of trauma or damage. I pet his sweet little head a few times, and left the scene with a heavy heart.

While I was there with the squirrel, many cars passed by me ( I was safely out of the road far off onto the grass by the sidewalk). I am sure there were at least some people who saw what I was doing that were perplexed by my actions. Possibly some people were aghast at what I was doing. I can imagine they must have been thinking something like “EWW she’s picking up a dead animal!”….But here’s the thing, most everyone picks up dead animals every single day. They pick them up at the grocery store, they pick them up at restaurants, they pick them up at the drive-through, they pick them up for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And these dead animals they pick up weren’t accidentally killed. They were killed intentionally and suffered beyond comprehension before they were killed. Funny, isn’t it, how our perception of things can be so different? …… thing, an act out of compassion, can be seen as so disgusting and strange and the other, eating animals who suffered unimaginable cruelty and died violently, can be seen as so normal……

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. karen lyons kalmenson permalink
    December 29, 2011 5:54 pm

    people, in their infinite capacity for insensitivity outside their own skins, have found a way to remove thsemselves from the actual bloodletting, by however many degrees of separation it takes, until the banality of it all is internalized.

    sad commentary


  2. Tammy Brown permalink
    December 29, 2011 5:59 pm

    Your story brought me to tears, but im happy you wrote it


  3. December 29, 2011 7:29 pm

    Sarah, that is a beautiful story, and much needed after reading a forum about vegnism and of course all the carnists intractable comments and arguments for their desire to eat flesh. They use their intelligence to uphold a way of life that has lost all relevance, and I find it so maddening and frustrating.
    As Karen says, a sad commentary.


  4. carol crunkhorn permalink
    December 30, 2011 2:47 am

    Thanks Sarah, for your kindness to the dead squirrel, for their was nothing more important to him than his life and you recognised that by placing his body in a safe place, somewhere he would have chosen to be.

    I also wonder how people can recoil in horror at a dead animal, yet happily chop up their body parts every day and eat them. I suppose it’s like a light switch in the brain, but once turned on properly it cannot be turned off again.

    There is hope though; forty years ago I would be offered an omelette or a salad if eating out. All those years ago the sight of a vegetarian meal on a menu was a thing to behold, now we even have vegan restaurants, even here in Auckland New Zealand, we EVEN have a CHOICE of vegan restaurants!

    It might have taken a while, but it is definitely catching on!


  5. December 30, 2011 6:36 am

    Thanx for a great comparison, that of ‘picking up animals’ you did it out of compassion with the squirrel & omni’s do so (pick up an animal) at the supermarket, they then go home & put the dead animal in their mouths. So yeah there is some cognitive dissonance going on there, I was ‘there’ until the summer of 2008, I’m so glad the veil of ‘denial’ was lifted for me.

    Thanx for blogging about your compassion for the other citizens of this planet.


  6. LINDA BADHAM permalink
    December 30, 2011 7:50 am



  7. Zephr permalink
    December 30, 2011 9:54 am

    Well said. I too have picked up dead animals from the road and moved them so that no further damage be done to them. I have also picked up the survivors, those that drivers have hit and failed to stop for. Some have been saved, others have died in my arms. Each and every day around the world, animals are dying at the hands of mankind, none can be considered casualities of the human species. Exploited for their fur, slaughtered for their meat, driven out of their habitat… many discarded and abandoned, factory farming, slaughter houses, downed cattle, the list is endless and the treatment of these animals horrific and unabated…..Thank you for this post.


  8. January 1, 2012 6:20 pm

    I didn’t know you’d do that!… Tie in the physical remains of the poor squirrel to the common, indifferent way other people handle “corpses” all the time! I honestly didn’t see it coming!

    What a sad subject… Leading to a horrible truth – You presented this little lesson and observation eloquently. A thoughtful story… Thanks for writing it!


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