I’m pet sitting for my friend H.
Yesterday I popped around to feed the animals, and spotted a rat lying in the chicken hutch. At first I thought it was asleep, but it seemed odd – they’re the sort of animal that runs and hides at the first sign of danger, and it had a chicken standing almost on top of it.
It looked dopey and unwell, but I had something else to go to urgently so I left it to see if it’d get better.
Came back and it was much worse, so I picked it up on a shovel and put it in a box and moved it somewhere cooler. H and N both suggested taking it to a vet to have it put down, so I left to see if the closest vet was open – it wasn’t. In the meantime the poor creature twitched and tried feebly to clean itself with its tongue. It was in obvious pain.
N arrived, and we decided after some internet research to gas it with CO2 – apparently painless and quick (couldn’t find a close, open vet.) We made a bag full of CO2 with vinegar and bicarb and put the rat in there, by which time it was almost dead.
It’s almost certain that some human poisoned this creature, and caused it a long and painful death. Almost always an unseen, unthought of death. Common, cruel and not thought of.
Much as with our personal security we worry about the uncommon and unlikely (sharks, plane crashes, terrorism) with cruelty we obsess about the unusual and callous (“Possum slammed to death at casino“). Poisoning of “pest” animals is common, and we prefer not to think of it – much like the cruelty associated with much of our food production. As in so many things I wish we had more compassion and averted our eyes less often.