Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Shocking (and Sad) Evening...

It started out so lovely.  Pleasant, cool weather; pretty puffy clouds and bright sunshine.  Debbie is leaving tomorrow morning for a five-day dog show up in Los Angeles, so we decided to grab a little time together this evening.  We drove up to Descanso and our favorite restaurant (Descanso Junction Restaurant) and had the Wednesday night special: their unique curried chicken pot pie.  We had homemade chicken dumpling soup as an appetizer, and then the main course.  It was even better than usual, and that's saying something.  We left with smiles on our faces and happy bellies.

As we started home, it was dusk.  The sun had just set, and there was still enough light to see clearly.  We passed under I-8 on Japatul Valley Road and drove about a mile – and saw a cat lying in the middle of the road, obviously injured.  It was a medium-sized orange tabby, right on the centerline.  I looked at it closely as we drove slowly by, but I couldn't tell if it was alive or dead.

So we did what any animal lover would do – we pulled off the road and I ran back to see if it was still alive.  It was – I could see it breathing, and as I watched it urinated a bloody stream.  It's jaw was broken and bloody, but I saw no other lacerations.  Most likely it had serious internal injuries – but it was still alive, so we decided to take it into the vet.

Debbie ran toward me with her jacket, the only thing we had available to carry the poor thing in.  At this point I was perhaps 10 feet away from the cat, waiting for Debbie to reach me. 

A car approached from the direction we had come – a big van of some sort, one of the modern “family cars” you see everywhere.  The driver, a man, was alone in the car.  I held up one hand to signal him to stop, and with the other hand pointed at the cat.  The driver looked at me, looked down at the cat, then looked back at me.

What happened next is something I long to forget, but I don't think I will anytime soon... 

A little smirk grew on that driver's face, and he watched me – as he turned toward the cat lying there helpless in the road.  His left front tire struck the cat again – purposely – while that driver watched my reaction.

I don't want to admit that I belong to the same species as that driver.

That poor cat was thrown about 3 feet toward me.  Screaming, he flopped and thrashed right across the road, down a steep embankment; he came to rest about 10 feet down in some thick shrubbery.  Debbie arrived with the jacket, I crawled down to where he was and got him into it, and we ran back to the truck, with him in Debbie's arms, and hightailed it for the only vet we knew for sure would be open that time of night: the emergency animal clinic on Jackson Avenue in La Mesa – about 20 miles away.

All the way down to the clinic that poor cat was struggling to survive.  Occasionally he fought Debbie; a few times he cried in obvious pain.  Sometimes his breathing was robust; sometimes not so much.  Just a couple of minutes before we arrived he made some awful noises, and then Debbie wasn't sure he was still breathing.  When we arrived at the clinic we ran right in – and the technician at the front test instantly grabbed the cat, still wrapped in Debbie's jacket, and took him into the back office. 

We waited just a few minutes until the vet tech came back out, with a sad expression that told us what we already suspected: the little guy had died, just before we got there.  She thanked us for “doing the right thing”, then took a few details from me about where we found the cat.  If anyone enquires about a missing cat, they'll be able to tell them.  They will also scan for a microchip, which would let them identify and notify the owner.  The tech then returned Debbie's jacket, said we didn't owe them a penny, and we were on our way.  The whole process at the clinic couldn't have been more than ten minutes from start to finish.

What a long drive home that was, after that.  Debbie and I were (and still are) in a kind of shock – more than anything because of that damned driver who deliberately hit the cat again.  We've seen hundreds of animals that have been hit by cars, and we've helped more than a few.  We never actually witnessed any of these animals being hit, and we've always assumed that they were hit accidentally.  What's different this time is that we confronted something evil in a very personal way.  Neither of us can quite believe what we saw happen – it seems more like something out of a bad horror story than out of real life.

I don't anger easily, but I'm angry tonight.  I feel the need to avenge that poor cat's suffering.  An eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth sounds pretty good right about now.  But the reality is that revenge isn't likely to be mine, and that driver will probably do it again.  And now we're wondering if maybe some of the animal carnage along our highways isn't actually accidental at all, but rather the result of deliberate strikes by the likes of the driver we met tonight.

Those are not happy thoughts at all.  On the drive home, I did have one slightly ponder.  I got to thinking about how easy it was, relatively speaking, for that driver to shock us with his behavior.  Partly he could do that because we live in a time and place where to witness such shocking behavior is uncommon.  A few centuries ago, or even today in some place like Somalia, that driver's behavior wouldn't have been shocking at all – too many other horrors would have hardened our sensitivities.  How very fortunate we are to live where we do, and when we do!  That's at least a small comfort tonight.

But the best thing to happen tonight was to be greeted by all our healthy, happy animal companions when we got home.  Debbie's been hugging all the cats, and I took our four dogs for a little walk, then came back inside and sat on the floor to get “dog hugs”.  They were the perfect anodyne for my spirit...


  1. Neither of us paid much attention to the vehicle itself, and neither of us had the presence of mind to look for the license plate. The driver, though... I'll remember that damned driver.

    And yes, what that driver did was illegal – but the track record for punishment by the courts for such cases is such that I can't imagine it would deter any sicko determined to have his fun. Small chance of getting caught combined with a small punishment equals no deterrent...

  2. I'm not sure. And I'm even less sure that I should talk about it publicly <smile>. Let's leave it at this: I'll make sure he isn't left with the idea that his actions have no consequences...

  3. I know this place out in the desert..... ;)