Last week I got what unfortunately is not an atypical urgent email regarding a young gopher who was in grave danger. But I assure you ahead of time that the tale has a happy and educational ending....
Ric, the firefighter who saved Charlie from the glue trap eloquently describes the experience in his own words:
To tell the story of Charlie, you need to know a little about my motivation.
I've been a fire fighter/paramedic for over 26 years. In that time, I've witnessed the full cycle of life from delivering premature babies struggling for their first breath to holding the hand of an old man in the hopes of providing comfort while he experienced his last gasp.
I've had the privilege of rescuing both man and beast from harm's way and experienced the heartache of the aftermath when harm had its way. I've gained a deep appreciation for the temperament of life – not just human, but of all life – and I've learned to respect the capacity for all beings to experience pain and the emotions of fear and self preservation.
I've proudly endured the ridicule of my co-workers who labeled me the "PETamedic" after performing CPR on a dog or finding a home for a pet orphaned at the scene of a 911 incident.
I am an unabashed enthusiast of all forms of life. While I may not be compliant with environmental harmony at all times, I strive to become so whenever I'm granted the wisdom to know better.
At my last assigned fire station, I employed humane "live" rodent traps -- the same as we use at home. Throughout a 24-hour shift I would spend ten minutes at a time checking the traps and moving any "detainees" to a holding cage that I would empty in a remote canyon on my way home.
Two months ago I was assigned to a different fire station. Upon arrival my first day, I noticed that the pest control company contracted there used glue traps scattered throughout the building. I immediately picked up all the traps and threw them away.
Recently, after being off work for a week, I returned to the station to find that the glue traps had been returned during my absence. While picking up the traps, I was horrified to find what appeared to be a dead animal stuck in one of the traps.
As I came closer to remove the trap, I noticed the animal move slightly and realized he was not dead. It was evident he'd tried hard to free himself for some time. Having received instructions on how to use vegetable oil to dissolve the glue, I spent the next hour methodically removing him from the glue trap.
After finally freeing him, I awaited the arrival of our friend Gina, who would transport him to the care of licensed wildlife rehabilitator Mary Cummins.
The next day, my wife, Faye, called me to her computer and merely said “There's your boy” as she showed me a picture of the gopher, now named Charlie. His eyes were open and bright! Charlie was in good hands and it was hopeful that he would be successfully returned to a natural habitat.
Here he is today, safe and regaining his strength.
My response to any argument of why I use humane traps is simply that I respect the effort of life and don't mind the occasional "inconvenience" inherent in peacefully coexisting with other beings -- no matter what their form.
Charlie doesn't deserve the agony inflicted by a glue trap, especially when acceptable alternatives exist. I let my vigilance lapse and nearly suffered my conscience as a result -- which is not nearly as bad as what Charlie suffered. I hope others find motivation in my experience and strive to abolish the use of the glue trap and other similarly cruel devices.
Until we as humans fully exercise our ability to make benevolent decisions at the daily opportunities we're provided we can't hope to achieve our full potential.
After all, isn't that what every being is struggling to do in our short time here? - Ric Schultz
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Beautifully said, Ric!
Thank you so very much for sharing this experience with Daily Wag readers and myself.
Dr. Pia Salk
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PS: Here are the instructions for freeing an animal from a glue trap. For more info on humane trapping, release and exclusion methods of rodent control, visit MSPCA.com.
PPS: Non-profit Wildlife rehabilitation groups like the one who helped Charlie rely on donations to support their life saving efforts!