Saturday, October 11, 2008

Groundhog Day: Part II

After seeing that the groundhog was still in the park both the next morning and next afternoon (Friday), and worrying that his injury made him an easy target for dogs and other predators, both of whom would likely be out in larger numbers over this holiday weekend, I am happy to report that after Randal placed a call to the Ottawa Humane Society, they sent someone out this evening (we were late leaving for Toronto, in fact, because the Society showed up just shortly before we were going to leave) to pick up the groundhog.

It had looked dire when I saw the groundhog sleeping on the grass near the trees when I was walking up to the bus stop on Friday morning. He disappeared later in the morning, when Randal went in to work about 90 minutes later, but reappeared sleeping under a tree late that afternoon. Because we had a car that day (we had rented one for our trip to Toronto, and Randal had picked it up after work), Randal suggested that perhaps we could capture the animal and bring it to an animal shelter. We went to check out the groundhog - when he tried to scamper away from us, it was obvious his rear left leg was quite injured.

We ran back home, and after doing some quick research online, Randal called the Ottawa Humane Society. They told us they would send someone out right away to rescue the critter. Randal explained exactly where they would find the groundhog, since we were hoping to leave shortly for Toronto.

The car was finally packed and we were ready to go at about 6:30. Randal decided at this point to run across the street to check on the groundhog one last time. It had moved out of the partially-wooded area to lay down in some grass, and it was very unresponsive. (Randal got it to finally open its eyes when he clapped his hands quite near to the animal.) After warning off a man and woman who were walking two little dogs in the nearby vicinity, he suddenly noticed, further down the street, a large van with flashing lights, driving as if it were looking for something. Randal ran to it, and it was indeed the Ottawa Humane Society. With Randal's help, the wildlife protection officer was able to corner the groundhog against a fence and get it into a box for transport. Once back at the Society, the officer told us, a technician would assess the wound and they would hopefully be able to start rehabilitation.

So I've thought about this incident a lot in the past 24 hours, and the more I think about it, the more I think that the groundhog may have already been injured before he ran into Rion. From what I could tell, Rion barely had a hold of him, if at all. Any hold he might have gotten would have lasted barely a second, and I don't know if that was enough time to do the kind of damage that the groundhog seemed to have suffered. There is also the fact that, while groundhogs are aplenty in this neighbourhood, they certainly do not make a habit of letting dogs get ahold of them. Normally groundhogs keep their distance. But this guy was hiding around the edge of a tree, leading me to wonder if perhaps he wasn't already injured and so incapable of getting away fast enough.

I don't know. Anyway, all in all, it's been an exciting and exhausting end to what was already a tiring week. Work has been crazy for the last two weeks in particular, and we were already having problems with our water pipes. But I'm happy it came to a good conclusion. I feel so much better, knowing that someone is out there, taking care of the groundhog as best as they can, and I hope that, in the end, everything is okay for the little guy.


Anonymous said...

Did the Ottawa Humane Society officer say they would rehabilitate the groundhog? Are you going to contact them for an update on his condition. I would be very interested in hearing how things are going.

Waterlily said...

Hmm... can you spell "Euthanasia"?

Randal said...

Did the Ottawa Humane Society officer say they would rehabilitate the groundhog?

Yes. Not sure what will happen after that, though -- whether they'd bother to put him back in his old location so as to be able to find his old burrow/family, or simply elsewhere in the woods. I imagine he'll pull through just fine unless the shock was too much for him by that point. His injury appeared to be minor -- one paw -- but he seemed very disoriented. Another night in the open would have been too much for him, I think.