Some wildlife rescues choose not to share stories about animals that can’t be saved, because they don’t want to upset the public. While I respect that, I believe there’s bittersweet beauty in all we do, even in the cases that end in death.
The reality is that most of the calls I’ve received this year weren’t about cute baby animals that were rescued and released, but about animals terminally ill with distemper. This serious disease is only rarely treatable, and it can be difficult to distinguish from rabies, so most animals with distemper have to be euthanized.
It isn’t “saving” the animals in the way we want, but it’s still saving. It’s saving them from suffering, saving others from catching the infection, saving taxpayer funds by helping to track the rates of disease in wildlife and helping to submit the bodies for testing.
Grandpa here was suffering tonight, but he had a long life. He weighs about twenty-two pounds, much more than average. His fur is turning white and his teeth are worn. He must have once been a proud, powerful young boar who fathered countless litters of kits and claimed a wide territory as his kingdom. But even the most impressive animals’ lives come to an end, and grandpa’s end is tonight.
I’m not able to personally take Grandpa tonight for his last trip but was able to arrange to have him euthanized soon. He’ll be given a sedative and then an injection, the same as I would choose for a beloved pet. Then his body will be sent for testing to help track disease in Hamilton County.
Some would say this is a sad story, but I disagree. This is an animal who had a long life in the wild, who gets to have a comfortable, dignified end now that his time is over. That’s not a tragedy. It’s a triumph.