WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
by Michael Martin
I don’t have a car so I had to walk along I-25 to get to my job interview. I noticed something that looked like a dog lying by the road. I wanted to move it a little farther off the pavement to prevent cars from running over it. Then I realized it wasn’t a dog. It was a coyote, who was still alive.
I wanted to see what the coyote’s injuries were and how I could help. Injured animals can be vicious, so I found a stick nearby and gently poked the animal on the rear end. He opened his eyes and lifted his head a bit, but there was no other response.
I couldn’t just leave this animal suffering, even though I know some people think coyotes are a nuisance. I felt committed to him, and I didn’t believe he deserved this.
After several minutes, a truck pulled up in front of me. The driver got out, came over, and knelt down beside the animal too. We moved the coyote a little, but he still showed no aggression. We decided to roll him over to look at his other side. We saw a gash on his hind quarters, a small cut on its front leg, and a small hole on his ear, which was bleeding. There was a drag mark up the side of the hill that made us think he was wounded on the hillside and had slowly pulled himself up to the road to die.
The trucker said he had the phone number for the New Mexico Game and Fish Department. While he went to his truck to call them, I kept examining the coyote as best as I could, looking for broken ribs or internal damage. He came back from his truck, and said the New Mexico Game and Fish people weren’t going to come because coyotes were not a protected animal. He’d called animal services, who said they would send an officer to pick up the coyote.
The trucker had to leave so I told him I would stay with the coyote until the officer came. While I was waiting I petted him and rubbed his ears. I’d always wanted a pet coyote when I was a kid.
After an hour, there still was no sign of animal services. Three police officers passed by, but none of them stopped to see what I was doing on the side of I-25 next to an animal. I guess it didn’t seem odd to them.
I thought animal services was busy, or figured that the coyote wasn’t a priority. But I still felt committed to this poor creature. I decided to carry him to the nearest place that might have a phone. I’d seen a place from the road, but I had to carry the coyote around a fence to the entranceway.
I picked him up and started to walk. He was very heavy, and after a moment or two he started to struggle. I thought he might become aggressive so I put him down on the ground. He tried to walk, and I tried to help by supporting him with my hands. He only took about four or five steps, and plopped down on the ground again. We went on like this for about a half a mile, but he never growled or tried to bite me. He probably sensed I was trying to help.
I finally got to the place I’d seen in the distance. I put the coyote down in the shade outside the building. I walked inside to ask the woman if I could use the phone. I told her I had a wounded animal outside, and that I wanted to get some help for him. She asked if I’d been sitting by the freeway. I said, “Yes.”
There was blood on my hands and fecal matter on my jacket because the coyote had pooped on me while I carried it. She showed me the bathroom and told another man that I had a wounded coyote outside.
When I went outside, about ten people were looking at this poor, suffering creature. A lady told me one man had gone to get his gun because they wanted to shoot it.
Since I didn’t have a car, didn’t know where any vets were, and obviously wasn’t going to get any cooperation from these people, I put the creature on the back of the truck they’d brought over, and walked away.
As I walked up the driveway, I heard the gunshot. My heart sank. Did I make the right decision? Was there something else I could have done for the coyote?
Editorsí Note: Mr. Martinís article poses a difficult question for all of us to consider. This episode is true and happened earlier this year in Albuquerque. Any comments you have on the story should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.Readers respond to Mr. Martin's story