You can’t save ’em all (Musical payoff after the jump)

This disgusting picture is a turtle that Zach and I saw one afternoon this spring, scrabbling in the road near our house. We were in our car, and another young couple had pulled over and exited theirs to, presumably, get Mr. Turtle out of harm’s way. They seemed excited and confused. Traffic was building up in the street.

We were on our way to a wooded area, and I briefly considered grabbing the turtle for release there. But the other couple seemed intent on dealing with the situation. We drove on.

You can’t save ’em all.

About a day later I found the squashed carcass near the end of our driveway. I don’t know who smashed him or if it was even the same turtle, but I never saw a turtle in our neighborhood before or since. I really wish I had taken him far away from our busy intersection when I had the chance. Although no guarantee of his life, it would have spared me some guilt.

Based on the Missouri Department of Conservation’s turtle pages, I think he was a young male ornate box turtle. He was probably on the hunt for a mate, and he could have lived for decades. Like a lot of wildlife, turtles are losing a lot of habitat to humans, leaving them little choice but to be wayward.

It took weeks for his beautiful, splintered shell to be ground into the asphalt.

You can’t save ‘em all.

I’ve heard the refrain a lot  – explicitly, indirectly and in my own head – since I began keeping track of wayward dogs, and especially since the project led to us fostering Machete the stray. My father, particularly, thinks I’m a crazy idiot for taking on another fanged, hungry mouth when the economy’s crap.

You can’t save ’em all.

According to the ASPCA, 3 to 4 million dogs are euthanized in America each year. Six thousand or more are euthanized each year at the Kansas City, Missouri, shelter alone. And then there are all those countless animals who aren’t in shelters and suffer needlessly anyway, at the hands of abusive, neglectful or non-existent owners.

You can’t save ‘em all.

I know.

So why try?

Anyone in the rescue community – for dogs, cats, people, turtles or endangered beetles –  knows you can’t save ‘em all. You can save some. And if you’re lucky, in the process, you will indirectly save others – by inspiring more people to act, to donate or just to care. It’s the same with environmentalism, feminism or any kind of politically or morally deliberate living. Teach a man to brew kombucha…

I know I can’t save the world. But trying, however ineffectually, does help me sleep at night.

When I need inspiration to keep up the good fight, I like to turn on the subtly revolutionary song, “Rise Up with Fists!!” by Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins.

Here’s a recording, my wayward friends:


About crystalwayward

I live with two formerly wayward dogs. I care deeply about the environment, and I think gardening is a revolutionary act.

Posted on September 8, 2011, in Random Life. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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