Three things for the police and public consider when wildlife is injured

Three things for the police and public consider when wildlife is injured

Authorities are investigating a Lethbridge police officer who used their vehicle to run over an allegedly injured deer in what is perceived to be an attempt to “euthanize” the animal.

More complete details of the incident, as well as the highly disturbing video captured by a resident, can be viewed and explored in this Global News article. This news release from our friends at Animal Justice outlines why a criminal animal cruelty investigation is warranted.

What options are available to police officers and the public when an animal is injured are also at the core of this discussion, and The Fur-Bearers wanted to provide some basic information for anyone who is involved in such a situation:

  1. Call an expert. There are wildlife rehabilitators in every province and territory of Canada, and likely a veterinary clinic in nearly every community. When an animal is injured, death isn’t the only option – at times, they can be fully treated, healed, and released back to the wild. At other times, humane euthanasia will be necessary – and a trained, compassionate animal expert such as a veterinarian or rehabilitator can offer insight into that choice, and potentially even provide the most humane option on-site. With the availability of smart phones and constant connectivity to the world, there’s no reason to not call an expert.
  2. Try to reduce the stress of the situation. Whether it’s a dog or a deer, a bird or a bear, all sentient beings feel stress and fear. Anything we can do to reduce that stress while awaiting assistance or advice of an expert can be beneficial. Reducing noises, ensuring that the animal has space and comfort, and, in some cases, providing the warmth of a blanket or protection from the elements can be helpful. Remember, too, that petting a wild animal can cause it immense stress.
  3. Document everything. As we learned in the horrifying case in Lethbridge, not everyone is prepared to take or capable of taking informed, compassionate action. This case is strikingly similar to one of a dog being run down by a police officer in Collingwood, Ontario who thought it was a coyote. In both cases, the only reason it came to light is that a resident documented the incident on their cell phone. You have the right to film police or other government agencies in public spaces, and it can prove to save lives and protect wildlife and the public. To learn more about this, listen to a recent episode of Defender Radio featuring animal activist and human rights lawyer Bina Ahmad by clicking here.

While we understand the deserved and reasonable outrage at this incident, we do ask that threats not be levied against the officer – that will pull resources away from the investigation into their actions, redefine the media narrative (which is already happening in this Calgary Herald article) and not provide any results that benefit the animals.

Compassion can be taught – and it starts with all of us.


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Established in 1953, The Fur-Bearers is a charitable, non-partisan organization whose goals are to end the commercial fur trade and promote solutions for wildlife coexistence in communities. Your donation is tax-deductible. Charitable registration number: 130006125RR0002

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