Wednesday, July 13, 2016

This Isn't a Pretty Story

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If you are easily upset by the harsher realities of life...
If you believe guns have no place whatsoever in society, ...

you need to stop reading.

We live in the country on a farm with livestock surrounded by approximately 60-75 acres of forest. Two weeks ago, we had a fox having seizures, convulsions, and the inability to walk more than a few steps at a time in our yard right where six of our children walk to the feed storage. Our livestock had been fed earlier that morning. Joshua was going to take the hogs fruit peelings from breakfast and saw the fox in the yard. He told me right away with a "It's sick and acting like it has seizures or something." I knew before I got outside what I'd have to do*, so I told Joshua to get me the gun while I headed out to make sure we didn't lose it and to observe it.

The fox was showing several symptoms of rabies. Our dogs and cats are vaccinated, but there was still a threat to the people, stray pets, and the wildlife in our neighborhood. So, to be responsible, I had to kill the rabies, which had already "killed" the fox. My shot was off. Ugh!! I got its hip. 

As a strong nurturer, I hate to cause anything suffering. When I've had to put something down, I've always done the job efficiently. That didn't happen this time. However, the fox was so far gone, its brain could not register any pain. It literally did not know it was shot. I was glad, but now I had a crazy situation on my hands.

It crawled under a very heavy wooden crate. One or both of us would have to lift the crate which would put our legs very close to an animal with what I strongly suspected was rabies. I couldn't just fire through the crate because there was metal in it which could cause a ricochet. Also, I'd still have to lift the crate to see if had finished the job. I had no vehicle at home in that moment, and my neighbor wasn't well. I knew if anything went amiss we'd have to wait for an ambulance to drive to the house and then drive us to the best hospital for treatment. It took just seconds to think this through and realize I didn't like any of those options.

I called Clint at work and asked his advice on how to best handle the situation. He told me to watch to make sure it did not escape to the brush about 20' away and wait for him to get home. With his thick tent canvas pants protecting his legs, he lifted the crate. In that split second, the fox turned towards Clint which was alarming! Clint quickly finished the job. We burned the fox and the crate.

This is the second time in twenty years we've seen what we suspect was a rabid animal in our neighborhood. *Animal control told us on previous calls that they don't come out unless an animal has bitten someone or is fully contained. They tell us if wildlife is sick or a threatening to shoot it ourselves. I'm OK with that; it's country life! They don't test for rabies unless an animal has bitten someone because testing is expensive. What this tells me is that the reports for rabies in any area that follows this practice can be very misleading. 

We gave all of our dogs and cats a rabies booster per our vet's advice. Since we already have vet given rabies for their county licenses, we had the vaccine shipped overnight and administered it ourselves. It wasn't cheap, but it's worth the peace of mind.

The scariest thing about this is that I am convinced by the timing, that the fox was under the feed storage shed that morning while my children were walking all around. I'm thanking God it stayed hidden. 

Clint gave the oldest of us our bi-annual gun safety/target practice course again. Brandon came home for it.

I encourage you to learn what "dumb" or paralytic rabies looks like. Most people I talk to think "Cujo" behavior when they think rabies. The animal can appear friendly or injured. Please teach your children to get you any time they see a wild or strange animal. Teach them not to pet or approach any animal, even someone else's pet, without your permission. 

Please excuse the errors. It's another full-plate morning.