The Day They Killed My Friend

The Day They Killed My Friend

 In memory of a fun-loving skunk whose life was cut drastically short

by Kitty Jones

I've been wanting to share this story for a long time.

When I was in middle school, I visited my father and his then-girlfriend in Vermont. I had just gone vegan. While I was there, someone who had been working in the woods had found a baby skunk. I do not know what happened to the skunk's family; I assume that his mother had been killed because it is extremely unlikely for a mother skunk, or any mother of any species, to abandon her baby. Everyone knew how much I love wildlife, so they gave me the baby to care for.

The only photo I have of him. He was giving me kisses.

The only photo I have of him. He was giving me kisses.

I had been volunteering at a ferret shelter and rescue in Seattle at that time, and I had been learning a lot about skunks, so I was beyond thrilled to have a new friend to play and learn with. We had so much fun – he was so playful and spunky. He was small enough to hold in the palm of my hand but had so much energy and curiosity about the world. We played for hours; he would romp around on the bed, attacking my hands and gently nibbling my fingers, then run off again. Sometimes he would get all excited and lift his little butt in the air as if to spray me (which he couldn't because he hadn't yet developed his scent glands), and then he would quickly turn around and grab my fingers with his tiny paws.

I will never forget the playfulness and curiosity in his eyes.

The next day, I came back to the house to discover that my friend had been killed. I was absolutely crushed. They had taken him away while I was gone during the day, and I never got to see him again. I never saw his body, and he was never given a respectful burial. All I could think about was how happy he had been the day before when we were playing together. The innocence in his eyes, the softness of his fur, his bounciness and joy...

What happened was that a parent had called animal control complaining that her young child had interacted with a wild animal and demanded to have the animal tested for rabies.

I gave myself a stick-and-poke tattoo of a skunk paw print in his honor.

I gave myself a stick-and-poke tattoo of a skunk paw print in his honor.

My skunk friend did not bite this child. He had no sign of rabies.

But the only way to test for rabies is to get a sample of brain tissue, and the only way to do that is to kill the animal. In this speciesist world, his life meant nothing.

The results were negative.

To this day, the memory weighs on my mind. He did not have a name. The cows, pigs, turkeys, goats and other sensitive beings I have met on "farms" also did not have names. And I will never forget them either.

I know that we will achieve animal liberation; I know that someday, animals will not be murdered for being "pests"; someday, we will not steal their eggs or their breast milk; and someday, we will have sanctuaries instead of slaughterhouses.

Fight for them with me.