Dear Ace: I was driving home late last night and saw a dead cat lying in the street in my neighborhood. After I got home, I wondered, Who would I call to get that cat picked up off the side of the road? And, what if that cat were a bear? Would I call the same person?—
Ann E. Mallover
Ann: Ace has but one word for you: wow. Perhaps while driving home and noticing the dead cat, instead of asking yourself how to do away with its corpse, you might have inquired as to how it lived. Was it a loyal cat? Did it prefer Kit ‘N Kaboodle or Friskies? Did it sleep at the foot of the bed or on the pillow next to the head of its owner? These are all questions Ace thinks should have been explored before you shunted away your compassion in favor of a carcass-free road.
Nevertheless, Ace does have a responsibility to answer your question, and he will try to put aside his disgust and respond the only way he knows how—calmly and rationally.
The place to call would have been (past tense because surely the cat has been retrieved by now) Animal Control, a city department that deals with 1,200 calls a year. Ace knew that Bobby Durrer, Charlottesville’s Animal Control officer since 1982, would have the answers. He put in a call to Bobby himself (and one the next day when he didn’t hear anything—Bobby’s a busy guy). Ever the curious cat, Ace wondered if there is any animal the city won’t pick up.
The answer, Bobby says, is live wildlife. If the animal you’ve found is sick or injured, the city will dispose of it by taking it to the SPCA to be euthanized. If you happen to see a groundhog out wandering around in your backyard, however, the best the city can do is lend you a trap.
Ace also made sure to ask Bobby about the strangest thing he’d ever encountered. Bobby says he’s dealt with bear, fox and deer who had crossed over to the happy hunting grounds. Those animals don’t sound too strange to Ace, but he isn’t one to judge. The point is, he got the answer: If that cat were a bear, Ann, you would call the same place.
Oh, and here’s another little tip from Ace to you: It’s supposed to rain this week. Don’t step in a poodle!
You can ask Ace yourself. Intrepid investigative reporter Ace Atkins has been chasing readers’ leads for 18 years. If you have a question for Ace, e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org.