Monday, April 15, 2013

A Plea From Wiggins

This is Wiggins, a juvenile cottontail rabbit. On my way out to feed the sheep this morning I heard a terrible ruckus in the grove of trees across the meadow from our house. At first I thought it was an injured coyote. I could "see" its progress through the woods by the birds taking flight ahead of it so I watched to catch a glimpse. I saw a canine of some sort but when it circled back still yowling for all it was worth I figured no self-respecting coyote, no matter how injured, would be so careless. So I dropped my water buckets and went to investigate.

What I found was the neighbor's beagle obviously on the trail of something. When I finally caught sight of the something it turned out to be Wiggins. She was in a thicket of brush and the beagle couldn't reach her. Neither could I. The stupid dog  wouldn't leave her and finally flushed her out of the thicket where she practically leapt into my arms to get away from the cursed dog. I raised orphaned cottontails last summer and I know how skittish they are, even when they are used to handling, so believe me when I tell you this was a very telling glimpse into her mental state.

It was plain to see two things: she was injured and she had almost resigned herself to death. She was crawling and throwing herself forward rather than hopping and the light in her eyes was gone. She was more than happy to stay in my arms as I carried her back to the house with the dog leaping and jumping around me the entire time trying to get at her. I have no doubt this usually harmless dog is a cherished pet but at that moment I would have happily put a bullet in its head. (Well, maybe not. But if looks could kill...)

I'm not sure Wiggins will make it. I've given her food, water, and shelter where she can rest to see if she heals enough to be released or if she lives but remains so injured that she'll need sanctuary for the rest of her life or if she lives but is so miserable she has to be put down. This scenario is senseless and is the third time that dogs I know have killed or injured wild rabbits. Usually its babies, wandering out of their burrows in the twilight. So for Wiggins and the babies I know who were killed by dogs can I just say, please, please, please, for the love of cottontail bunnies, would you consider keeping your dogs on a leash especially during this time of the year when so many babies are venturing out?

I realize rabbits, especially wild rabbits, are prey animals and intended for food. And I accept that even though I don't like it. But for dogs to wantonly kill or cripple wild rabbits they do not need for food is preventable and part of responsible pet ownership. I thank you for your consideration and Wiggins thanks you.

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