Two crows were in the road. The older bird was dead; the younger, we'll call
him Frankie, was standing guard and wouldn't budge.
I moved the dead bird off the pavement hoping the little guy would follow. But
Frankie, about three or four weeks old and unable to fly, held his ground. So
I took him home, and soon found myself rethinking my view about charities – specifically
those dedicated to helping animals rather than humans.
|Here’s the backstory:
A few months ago I wrote a column in USA Today about people who donate to good
causes – the school volleyball team, the
animal shelter, etc. – while so many Americans are hungry. We give roughly
$300 billion to charities each year, but only 10 percent goes directly to social
and human services.
I wasn’t criticizing the well-intentioned efforts of any particular charity,
but suggested that donors should apply a triage system at this time of profound
I put Frankie in a large box, and Googled “caring for young crows and ravens.”
Seems these birds make good pets, provided they are introduced to people before
being “imprinted” in the wild. I also learned that they’re
quite messy, often moody, and will eat just about anything. One site said for
youngsters you must “place a glob of food on your finger and push it down
the crow’s throat.” I wish I had video of my failed attempts at
doing this for Frankie.
My wife Amy suggested I phone the ASPCA, sending me into immediate panic. What
if someone there had read my column and labeled me a non-believer? What if Frankie
wound up being euthanized in a dingy back room, where I envisioned all the “lesser” critters
Jessica, in the Wildlife Department, was surprisingly sympathetic. She said one
of her colleagues was only a few miles from my house and could be over in a few
minutes. She’d come to me? In a few minutes? Good luck getting such service
from a plumber.
Jen arrived in a very official-looking truck and put on surgical gloves. She
gave Frankie a thorough exam and pronounced him fit, but too underfed to be returned
to the wild.
So Jen took Frankie to the ASPCA, where he’ll be eating a mixture of cat
food and raw vegetables. When stronger, he’ll be brought back to the woods
near my house.
I was feeling embarrassed about my earlier column, and mumbled something to Jen
about sending a donation, which she politely said wasn’t necessary.
In the column I asked, “If you encountered a starving child holding a starving
puppy, would your first step be to offer food to the dog? Obviously not.” I
still agree with that – as would Jen and Jessica, I imagine.
But maybe it’s not so simple. All living things deserve our sympathetic
attention, especially those who, by chance, are placed in our paths.
Years ago I was driving up Madison Avenue in New York when a scrawny kitten ran
under my car. I stopped and got out, blocking the busy intersection at rush hour.
The crowd quickly divided into two camps: those who yelled, “Get moving!” and
those who screamed, “It’s right under your car!”
That cat – named Dasher because during the hourlong drive that followed
managed to crawl behind the dashboard, requiring the services of an auto mechanic
to free him – racked up $1,300 in vet bills. A ridiculous expenditure,
I suppose. But that’s something else about “lesser” creatures
in our lives: once you reach out to them, their problems become yours.
The ASPCA, founded in 1866, operates under the belief that “animals are
entitled to kind and respectful treatment at the hands of humans.” While
I wait for Jen and Frankie to return, I’m sending a modest donation.
The columnist in me wants to say I was forced to eat crow, but the creature-lover
in me would rather not.
(c) Peter Funt. This column originally distributed by the Cagle Syndicate.
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