Depicting a scene that has even the world’s most heartless bastards scratching their heads and wondering, why, a YouTube video, getting more viral by the minute, has ignited outrage from more than just the usual cast of animal rights groups.
Using a cellphone camera, a student at Kimbrough Middle School recorded a Mesquite, Texas police officer macing a baby squirrel that had been chasing students around their school’s courtyard. During the entire video onlookers (mostly children) only a couple feet from the cop, scream, cry and plead with the officer to leave the squirrel alone. The video cuts off shortly after the officer actually sprays the fist-sized animal, causing it to writhe in pain and the crowd to gasp in disbelief.
Mesquite Police Department has stood behind the uniformed officer in the video, referred to by students in the video as Officer David. His Sergeant, Wes Talley, has released a statement defending him, stating that the officer tried to act as a barrier between the animal and the group of students because he thought the squirrel may have been rabid. He further elaborated that the officer, after several unsuccessful attempts to scare the squirrel away, used his less-than-lethal pepper spray as a last resort and to protect civilians from possible attack or infection.
As you may have guessed, parents in the school district (and presumably across the US) are asking a lot of questions, namely why the students weren’t simply taken away from the vicinity of the squirrel. They are also questioning why the officer thought it was safe to spray mace with so many students around or prudent to harm an animal that could have just as easily been restrained by an upturned trashcan.
After the incident, animal control officers did just that—secured the squirrel and took it back to their shelter. It was cared for and released back into the wild within a few days prompting Guns.com to ask, “Now how hard was that?”
Though hunters may traditionally be a community at odds with the animal right’s agenda, its important to remember our sports’ underlying philosophy—the Sportsman’s Code of Ethics—and a major tenet of this code is showing reverence to wildlife. Hunters that adhere to the Code believe that when you kill an animal, it should be taken as cleanly and as humanely as possible and to do it otherwise is a dishonor (if not a painful and cathartic reality at times).
Taking an animal cleanly requires us to wait, to choose shots and to pass on animals and, if there’s any parallels to be drawn between the Hunter’s Code of Ethics and this incident in Texas, we would all do well to remember it’s ultimately our own choices in the woods (and in life) that determine whether or not we are acting honorably, regardless of our intentions.