Last week was a really crazy week for me. On top of it being wedding season, I had an audition in Montreal, a wedding, a wedding show and apparently the universe thinks I’m an animal rescue agent. On Thursday morning, before my audition, I was taking Freyja (my dog) for a walk. On the way down to the park, I heard some noise coming from someone’s yard. I took a quick look and decided that it was probably just a cat in the yard. On the way back, past the house, something told me I needed to take note. Then, I heard some noises again. I walked over to the green bin ( compost bin provided to residents in the City of Ottawa), lifted the lid and was shocked by what I found. A poor, little baby raccoon was trapped inside the green bin. It had not been closed properly and he had managed to get in. However, that was not the most shocking part. The little guy was covered, head to tail with rotting filth and maggots. It was quite obvious that the owners of the bin hadn’t cleaned it in quite some time. I tied my dog up a little ways away from the bin and began knocking on doors. Would you believe it was the first time I left the house on a walk without my cell phone?
I knocked on the door of the green bin owner first, no answer. Two neighbours down on each side of the street, no answers. Finally, an older couple driving by saw me and I waived them down. They had a cell phone and we attempted to call City of Ottawa. We were on the phone for over 1o minutes and could not get through. Eventually, they had to leave and I was left to continue to try and help this poor guy. I was on a tight schedule, having to leave for Montreal soon, but I was determined to get him some help.
I ran home, dropped Freyja off and grabbed my phone. It was a hot day on Thursday and it was getting hotter by the minute. Finally after forty-five minutes worth of calls to City of Ottawa, emergency services and the Ottawa Humane Society, I was transferred to someone who could help. Once the agent assured me someone was on their way, I felt a bit of relief. As I hung up, a man in his twenties emerged from the house. He was smiling in a goofy sort of way as he walked towards me.
“Oh, ya. My mom found it this morning. She gets up early and saw him in there.”
My heart sank. The house owners/tenants KNEW he was there. They knew for hours! I came to find out that at least two people knew this poor baby was in their green bin and did NOTHING to help him. When I asked why they had done nothing, he said he was scared of it and didn’t really know who to call. I was completely disgusted. The man stayed with me until the rescue truck came, making lame attempts to comfort me like offering to spray the bin with Febreeze…I nearly punched him. Once the raccoon was on his way to the rescue centre, I rushed my way to Montreal, arriving in the nick of time for my audition.
On Saturday, on my way to shoot a wedding, I came upon a seagull in the middle of the road. If you live in Ottawa, you know how busy Carling Avenue can be. I stopped my car, turned on my four way flashers and scooped the obviously injured seagull up in a blanket. I could not bring him to the rescue centre, so I put him under some bushes on the side of the road. Onlookers in the retirement residence just stared…people continued to drive and walk by. As I drove to meet my bride, I frantically called around getting information. They wouldn’t come pick the bird up, so I called upon a friend to go and rescue him. Luckily, he was able to find him and bring him safely to the bird rescue centre.
Then, on Sunday after a long day in Cornwall at a bridal show, my husband and I took Freyja out to run her in our parking lot. It was dark and had been raining, so we didn’t want to take her far but it was obvious she needed to run a bit before bed. Outside, Frey took off after a pigeon. It struck us both as odd when the pigeon didn’t fly away. Freyja, not expecting to catch up to the bird, didn’t know what to make of it either. He flapped his wings, but almost looked too tired and dazed to take off. So, we got him into our cat carrier, kept him overnight and I brought him to the bird rescue centre the next day when they opened.
I am incredibly upset to say that the raccoon and the seagull both did not make it. The pigeon is still being treated, but the prognosis is not good. I’m sending him healing thoughts.
What astounds me is the complete lack of action taken by the people involved. The first and worst of the three is the raccoon’s case. Upon retelling the events, I’ve heard a lot of people call the man and his mother stupid, but I don’t think that is accurate. Intelligence had nothing to do with it, it was a lack of compassion. They didn’t care what happened to the raccoon. Even a child, upon finding a creature in need, can do something to help it. They obviously didn’t want to take responsibility for their disgusting green bin and the damage it had caused this living being. If their green bin had been in a better state, I could have just tipped it over and set him free. Because of the filth and maggots, the rescue center said they could not save him.
As for the seagull, it took a while of lane changing and slowed traffic before I came upon him. I can only guess that at least fifteen to twenty cars drove by him before I stopped. The seagull was obviously in agony and no one did anything to help. Not to mention the myriads of retirees and workers at the retirement home who just watched the scene play out. It took me literally forty five seconds to get the seagull off the road and out of harm’s way. My friend and new hero, drove twenty minutes to come and find the bird afterwards. I can understand in the case of the pigeon, his problem was a little more masked, but the seagull was in obvious distress.
This is my plea to readers. If you see an animal or person in distress, DO SOMETHING to help. Even if you’re not sure what to do. Call someone, anyone, even if it’s 911. (Though as Marcia rightly states below, 911 should be reserved for human emergencies below). They might get mad at you, but at least you’ve done something to try and help. If you’re not sure whether or not the person or animal needs help, investigate. It takes thirty seconds of your life and could save theirs.
You’re too busy? Not an excuse. NEVER an excuse.
You’re nervous or scared to do so? Take precautions, ask for help from someone else, it’s still not an excuse. You can always call someone better equipped to deal with the situation.
You’re not sure what to do? Not an excuse. Again, call someone. I flagged down an old couple I didn’t even know.
My plea to residents of Ottawa and other areas that use green bins. Keep them clean! That raccoon would be alive today if they had only kept their green bin clean. Keep it securely locked. If you find wildlife trapped inside, don’t be a douchebag, DO SOMETHING.
I’d like to extend my thanks to the older couple who stopped to help me and my friend Peter Whittaker who heard of a creature in need and took action. Also, I send thanks to the people of both the Ottawa Humane Society and the Wild Bird Care Center for the caring and compassion that they demonstrate every day. You can donate to either of these fine places, see details on their websites.
Phone numbers to remember for Ottawa: Ottawa Humane Society – 613.725.3166 Wild Bird Care Center – 613.828.2849