Last Thursday started out like any other day.
7am. Alarm goes off. I get Cinderella up for school, put on a pot of coffee and nurse The Mouse.
The Boy awakens and informs me that he wants breakfast.
I was able to catch 15 minutes of the Today Show. That's 5 minutes more than yesterday and yet I STILL haven't seen Ann Curry's new hair-do.
I finish feeding The Mouse put her down in her Boppy pour The Boy a bowl of cereal and get myself a cup of coffee. Cinderella gets dressed and then all three kids and I hang out in the living room while we wait for her bus.
8am. Cinderella's bus comes and chauffeurs her off to school. I finish my coffee get The Boy dressed put The Mouse down for her morning nap and call my Mother.
9am. I noticed The Smell when I first woke up two hours earlier but we live in the 'burbs so it's not unusual. Wildlife abounds in our area and we are subjected to a variety of odors on any given day.
But then I spot it. The owner of The Smell. There. Outside. In my neighbor's yard.
Walking circles in the falling snow, disoriented and not aware that it is morning and should be tucked away sleeping by now.
That's not right I tell my mother. It must be sick.
I hang up the phone and decide to call Animal Control.
Rabies runs rampant in our County. It's snowing and the kids will be dismissed early from school. I don't want them to have a run-in with this creature while getting off their bus.
I struggle to keep one eye on the Skunk while frantically searching the phone book for the number.
I cannot find a listing for Animal Control.
I call Town Hall instead. They will know what to do.
Our town doesn't have Animal Control I am told. Call the State Troopers. They handle these sort of things.
I call State Police.
What's the Emergency?
Yes, I am calling about a possible rabid Skunk in my neighbor's yard.
What do you want us to do about it ma'am, we don't handle these sort of things.
I was told to call you.
After an audible ::sigh:: the female officer reluctantly takes my address and then informs me that they will send an officer out but it is snowing and there are a lot of accidents so they are a little busy right now fuckyouverymuch.
I'm not satisfied with that response.
Not satisfied with putting our neighborhood children at risk.
Not satisfied with letting that poor animal suffer.
I see my neighbor outside and run to the front door to warn her of the potential danger lurking in her side yard. She tells me the Skunk has been there all night. She has called the State Troopers as well and was given the same brush off.
I head back inside resume my Watch and pick up the phone again.
I call the Rabies Info Line. No luck. Just an automated information line.
I call the Department of Health.
They suggest I call the Police in a neighboring city. They have an Animal Control Officer. My block is so close to the town line maybe they won't notice.
Sorry we can't come there, jurisdiction and all.
I call the Department of Public Safety. They transfer me to County Police.
Yes, I am calling about a possible rabid skunk in my neighbor's yard.
What makes you think it's rabid?
Umm... It's walking in circles, pacing back and forth IN.THE.DAYLIGHT.
Ok. I'll page Animal Control. What's your address.
Some relief at last. Soon this will be over.
10am. I am still perched in front of the kitchen window. Watching. The Skunk has been walking in circles for the past hour. I am afraid to walk away. I want to be sure I know where it is for when the Police arrive.
Snow continues to fall.
11am. The Mouse awakes from her morning nap so I must abandon my post to feed her. As soon as she is finished I return to the window.
It is still there and now having seizures. Its small body begins falling over limbs rigid and shaking uncontrollably. Each seizure lasts about 60 seconds before it gets back up and resumes its pacing.
Back and forth.
Left and right.
It pains me to watch yet I cannot look away. I feel an overwhelming sense of responsibility to Cinderella, the neighbors and the poor helpless animal suffering before my eyes.
I begin to pace too. From the kitchen window to the living room. Watching. Waiting for some help to arrive.
Pacing. Back and Forth.
12pm. Still no one has arrived.
My neighbor is obviously as anxious as I am. Outside her son is with a young man holding a rifle. I do not know if it's real or a BB gun.
This young man raises the rifle, takes aim and then lowers his arms. He either can't get a clear shot or lacks the Courage of his Conviction.
I call County Police again and tell them what's happening next door hoping it will spawn some sense of urgency on their part. The Officer tells me he will page the guy again.
Another seizure. This time the Skunk falls down the small hill and is up against the fence that separates our yards. Its head gets stuck between the pickets of the fence and it is temporarily unable to free itself because of its trembling limbs. Its small face dangles over our side of the yard as the rest of its body twitches and convulses in the snow. I watch helplessly as my anxiety progresses along with this animal's sickness.
Snow continues to fall.
I wonder if the Skunk feels the cold and if it will wind up freezing to death before it can be put out of its misery. Lacking faith that County Police will be any more responsive than State Troopers I pick up the phone again.
I call the SPCA. Their automated message provides a number for Wildlife Rescue.
I call Wildlife Rescue. Again and automated message provides me with three numbers. The first two prompt me to leave a message. Someone finally answers the last number. I tell the woman who answers my story but she is a wildlife rehabilitator and cannot help.
You need to call the State Troopers.
12:30. This is ridiculous. Desperate, I call Town Hall again only this time I get the Town Supervisor's Office. The woman on the other end is shocked by the run-around I have received and tells me she will call the Troopers herself in the hopes that a call from her office will prompt them to action.
It's been 3 hours since I first called for help.
12:40. The phone rings. It's a local trapper.
County Police called me about a skunk in your yard. I'll come out to take care of it for you. It will cost $250.
ARE.YOU.JOKING.ME? It's not MY skunk.
I called the Police because this is a matter of potential public safety and it's their job to protect and serve fuckyouverymuch.
12:43. The Town Supervisor's Office calls me back. NOONE answered the public line for the State Troopers so she called the Commander's Office. She assures me that someone will be getting in touch with me ASAP.
12:49. Trooper #1 calls. They know of the Skunk and will get someone out here ASAP.
1:17. Trooper #2 calls. He wants to confirm the Skunk is still here.
I can dispatch it but once we kill it it will smell.
It already smells Officer. The animal is seizing and every time I has a seizure it urinates or sprays and so the entire neighborhood stinks.
Oh. Ok, I'll dispatch it right away. Once it's dead you will have to bag it up and throw it out.
I call DoH again.
Is this correct? You don't want this animal? You want us to dispose of it?
No ma'am as long as it hasn't come in contact with a person or pet you can dispose of it. Please have the Trooper call me when he arrives. I want to make sure he doesn't come in any contact with it before he shoots it.
1:30. My Savior arrives. I tell him DoH wants to speak to him. He goes back to his car and makes the call. He returns to my front door. He will let me know when it's over.
He walks around to the side yard where the Skunk is now lying in the snow unable to move. The seizures or perhaps the cold have gotten the better of him. It now just trembles helplessly.
Haven taken a moment to assess the situation and choose his plan of action the Trooper takes aim with his firearm.
This I cannot watch. I hide behind my refrigerator bracing myself for what's to come. This will be the first time I have ever heard a gun shot in person.
I peer at the Trooper from my porthole window in my living room. His gaze is fixed on the Skunk. His Target.
He suddenly raises his firearm for a second time.
Through the window I see him shake his head.
He takes aim for a third time.
Unaware that he has an audience the Trooper breaks character and shows his human side. He is visibly shaken and fixes his gaze upward as if to pray for some Divine Intervention as he is struggling to complete the task.
He turns away. His shoulders drooped as a man defeated. Gun powder streaks across the snow on my side of the yard. From the other side of the fence I can see the Skunk. It's still trembles.
The Trooper knocks on my door.
It's still shaking. It's possible it's just nerves firing and that it's really dead but I already put four bullets into it and don't want to fire any more and upset the neighbors. I don't want to take a rifle to it because it will splatter all over. I'll come back in an hour to check.
For the next two hours I continue my vigil painfully aware of the fact that the Skunk is.still.alive.
Over the next 120 minutes it slowly drags itself 2 feet from the spot where we attempted to end its misery and back again. I am overwhelmed with guilt. I wanted to end this poor animal's misery and only compounded it leaving it to suffer in agony for 2 hours with 4 bullets in its tiny body.
It's still snowing.
3:40. The Trooper returns. Even he can't believe what he sees.
From the window I see him make the sign of the cross. It is over.
6 hours and 5 bullets later. It's finally over.
The Skunk lies lifeless beneath the falling snow in my neighbor's yard. Its carcass is quickly covered beneath a blanket of white where it will remain for another 2 days before the weather warms up enough for my neighbors to exhume it from its frosty grave and dispose of it. Its final resting place to be "double-bagged" and thrown to the curb.
I am disgusted.