We’re still working on Best Half’s new digs for her salon; I stopped by early this morning on my way home from taking Mom to the eye doctor to pick up some tools I needed and discovered a possum curled up sleeping on the sidewalk in front of the door.
I thought “Aw, how cute!” for a second and took this photo, but then I thought “Wait, something’s wrong here. Possums don’t sleep out in the open like that. Is he dead?”
The little guy was alive; when I approached him he looked up and bared his teeth to look fierce, but he didn’t try to run away or anything.
He was injured; there was a little blood around his mouth, his lower jaw looked crooked and he shivered violently when he looked up at me, then tucked his nose under his paws again.
I’d guess he was crossing the street last night and got clipped by a car. It was 12° F. out last night; the new salon has unoccupied units on either side, so I think since Best Half’s salon was the only one with heat, there was some warm air coming from under the door, and he curled up there to try to stay warm.
I called Animal Control; while I was waiting I squatted down a few feet away and tried to talk kindly to him—“Hang in there, buddy; help’s on the way”—but he kept trying to look up at me again and shifted around like he was trying to get up.
I was frightening him, so I got back in the car so I could keep an eye on him without him seeing me and being scared. I thought about maybe putting my jacket or something over him to keep him warm, but decided it would be too risky. Not for me, for the possum–if he tried to struggle or fight it could injure him more.
So I sat there and waited. I gotta say I felt like one rotten heartless bastard sitting in my nice warm car, watching him while he was freezing and in pain, and doing nothing.
The Animal Control officer, bless her heart, showed up inside of 5 minutes. I told her I hated just sitting there and watching him suffer, but I was reluctant to try to warm him up or anything because I didn’t know if I’d just be making it worse. I felt like I needed to apologize to her and try to justify doing nothing to help.
She said no; you did exactly the right thing: trying to move him or put a blanket on him would have been dangerous to both of us (and injured animals can be really dangerous, but this poor little critter was just about out of gas). She said when dispatch told her I thought he was in pain and hypothermic she hurried so he wouldn’t have to lay there and suffer any longer.
She coaxed him into a little kennel; he tried feebly to stand up or crawl out but couldn’t really muster up any energy.
Bless that AC officer; I thought she’d need to ask me a bunch of questions and fill out paperwork, but the minute the possum was in the kennel, she was ready to go. She started to go to the back of the truck where the built-in cages are installed, but said, “No; it’s too cold. You’re riding with me.” And she set his little kennel on the front seat next to her.
The new salon isn’t open yet; the two other storefronts between the new salon and the restaurant down at the end are unoccupied and the restaurant doesn’t open till lunch time. People entering and exiting the restaurant probably wouldn’t have seen a furry little bundle curled up by the door way down on the other end.
If I hadn’t stopped there early this morning I’m sure he would have died before much longer. So there’s that, I guess.
I said it was hard to feel good about helping when they’d just put him down, but she said that wasn’t a foregone conclusion: She’d take him to a vet to see what could be done and maybe get him in rehab to heal him up and release him, so there’s some hope there.
I wish I’d gotten her name so I could thank her and/or call the department to brag on her: She hustled to come rescue the possum and she was in a hurry when she left, so I think he didn’t have to be in pain and cold for much longer.
Poor little critter. Whatever they can or can’t do for him I know he’s not suffering any more. Yeah, yeah; I know I did the right stuff but I wanted to comfort him and I wanted to ask her if I could adopt him once they fixed him up, but possums wouldn’t make good pets at all and trying to foster one would be nuts.
Adulting really sucks sometimes.