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When Squirrels Attack

by Christina Ritchie Rogers

May 5,2006

The following is a true story of a hapless crime, a good Samaritan, a ruthless assault, and a bloody shootout.

I was at church recently on a Saturday afternoon, helping to set up for a fundraiser. Suddenly, a woman came rushing in clutching her left hand with her right. "Do you know where a first aid kit is?" she asked. Without asking what happened, I put down my glitter-glue stick and blue construction paper and led her quickly to the church kitchen. On the way there, she was able to force an out-of-breath explanation. I can't remember verbatim what she said, but I distinctly remember "blah, blah, blah-bitten by a squirrel-blah." There was no time to entertain my impulse to whip around, raise my right eyebrow in disbelief and ask the oh-so-original, "What?!"

As she ran her hand under cold water, I pulled out some band aids and first aid cream, still unsure of what I was about to see. After all, what does a squirrel bite look like? And, how the heck does one properly care for it? I thought back to high school first aid class, but as far as I could remember, there was no chapter entitled "When squirrels attack," no pneumonic "three C's of proper squirrel-bite care" devise.

With a cream-infused band aid firmly in place, and her breath slowly returning, she was able to explain just how (on earth!) something like this happened. As it turns out, she had witnessed the squirrel's partial demise at the marriage of his body with the tire of the car in front of her. While often such a union results in instantaneous death, in this case the squirrel lay injured. Feeling badly, the woman pulled over and approached the squirrel, intending to move it to the side of the road. The fast approach of an oncoming vehicle, however, caused her to make a rash decision and reach her hand out – only to pull it back with an injured squirrel firmly attached to her index finger.

Of course, in addition to the excruciating pain in her finger, this woman had rabies on the brain. "What do I do?," she asked – A question that I was actually able to answer with some authority.

"Well, when my sister got bitten by a groundhog, the neighbor's dog killed the groundhog, and we were able to take it into the vet to be tested for rabies. Since the groundhog tested negative, my sister had no need for the shots." I asked, "Just how injured was the squirrel? Could we go back to the scene of the crime and collect it for testing?"

The woman dialed the number for her vet only to be prompted by the answering machine to call a second number in the event of an emergency during off-hours. She dialed that number and was relieved to get a live person. But then she had to explain what happened – a brief account, but inevitably ending with "I got bitten by a squirrel." The person on the other end of the phone suggested she call animal control, which she then did. Another person, another account "...I got bitten by a squirrel." Animal control told her to call 911, and, of course that meant another person and yet another round of "...I got bitten by a squirrel." I'm ashamed to admit that with every version, the absurdity of what had just happened to this woman became blaringly clear and uncomfortably comical.

Shortly after the 911 call, THREE responding Mecklenburg County police cars, with lights a-flashing, arrived at the scene of the squirrel. The officers approached the car-struck rodent and, for reasons of which I am still unsure, employed their TASER. Not once. Not twice. But three times! After this sequence of high-voltage management, the officers paused to assess the situation and decide upon the most efficient, most effective, most necessary next-step. Which was, of course, to draw a gun and SHOOT the car-struck, thrice-electrocuted, nine-and-a-half-ounce, lump of fur.

Talk about local news. I am sad to report, Charlotte, that our crime statistics for squirrel assault have risen 99% for the year.

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