kindness activist

kindness activist

Friday, August 5, 2016

Turtle Kindness

Some people just have kind souls.  They always seem to find a need for kindness, and they fill that need.  Erin Harrison is that sort of person, and she is especially kind to ANIMALS.  So when I saw on Facebook the other day that she had RESCUED AN INJURED TURTLE (who, by the way, was barely bigger than the size of a human hand), well, she HAD to be dubbed a Kindness Activist, right??  Here’s the scoop:

This is Erin, our hero
Erin was driving to work in Laurel, MD.  She was rocking out (she seemed embarrassed to admit to me the tune on at the time might have been the Bangles “Manic Monday” – hey Erin, I love that song!!  It’s stuck in my head now that you mentioned it…).  She told me, “I saw a small motionless lump on the wide shoulder of the road. A flash of color caught my eye and I knew it was a turtle. I immediately screeched to a halt (okay, I might have kept driving for a bit trying to convince myself that he was just over there taking a little breather before moseying back into the woods - but I knew I had to whip a u-ey and check, just in case. At the very least, I could shoo him off the dangerous road, which I've done several times in the past.  Pro-tip: don't try to pick up snapping turtles, not only do they weigh a ton, they can reach you back there!) and retrieved my animal ambulance lights from the back seat (okay, maybe I just turned on my hazards).”

Aren’t you enthralled by her telling of the tale??  Aren’t you SO CURIOUS about what she will find when she turns around and returns to the scene of the FLASH OF COLOR????  I am!

Well, she got back to where she had seen the little guy (she swears she is not an expert box turtle sexer but she needed to pick a gender for this turtle so she could have a pronoun to use for the rest of her story…  Did I mention that Erin, like me, is a sign language interpreter, so pretty much by default loves WORDS??) and when she saw him, she says, “My heart just sank. He was still as a stone with his back legs hanging out (not even shrugged safely in like the rest of him) with bright, freshly pooled blood and chips of glaring white bone across his crushed rear shell. I feared he was dead, but I remembered a snippet from somewhere mentioning how turtles could take more from a vehicle impact than we assume and can often survive with treatment.  So I determined to investigate further. I touched his legs and wiggled them -no response.  I picked him up off the ground - no response. "Dead," I thought, and started to well up.”

This is where the story would end for most of us, right??  I mean, in actuality, the story would never have gotten THIS far…  We would have seen the turtle goo on the side of the road, cringed, and driven on.  Or maybe we wouldn’t have even NOTICED it and just kept singing along doing car-eoke.  But not Erin – she didn’t give up yet…

She continued, “Then I realized that I could see his little tail in there.  Since tails are generally well known as particularly sensitive anatomical structures (I certainly react when my tail is unexpectedly fussed with!), I figured why not get fresh and see what happens. Sure enough, there was a little wiggle in return for my audacity!” 

WHAT???  HE WAS ALIVE??????  Oh man!  See, the story is getting even better!!!!

LOOK!!!!  He is alive!!  Go Erin go!!!!
Erin recounted, “After that it was all adrenaline, running to the car, making phone calls, and narrowly avoiding speeding and red-light camera tickets (at least I hope I avoided them. not sure "turtle rescue" would get that waived).”

She took the turtle to an animal hospital, where she says, “The staff seemed fairly surprised that I had stopped to collect him up. (Editor’s note:  ERIN YOU ARE ONE IN A MILLION – I AM GUESSING MOST PEOPLE READING THIS WOULDN’T HAVE STOPPED, EITHER!) The animal hospital staff gave me the spiel about how bringing in any animal, even if not mine, makes treatment my financial responsibility (I was aware of that from other rescues, and had already started planning "Go Fund Me" pages in my mind…).  But I lucked out - the exotics vet I took the injured guy to has a soft spot for turtles in particular and offered to take him in!  On the turn-over forms, they had me write "Good Sam(aritan) Turtle" as his name.  J  Turns out Good Sam didn't respond when I wiggled his hind legs because they were paralyzed.  Brainstorming with the staff for a wee turtle wheelchair or a Lego cart for getting around began immediately.”

See people???  Kindness begets kindness!!!!  Out of all of the vets Maryland area, Erin happened upon one with a sweet spot for TURTLES…  Seriously, kismet!  And get this – Erin couldn’t sit around the vet all day with the turtle, she was already late for work from stopping to rescue him.  But a random woman in the waiting room (on her day off) with her dog offered to keep tabs on the turtle and text Erin updates!  See – kindness spreads like ripples, people!!

Erin and her dog Verbal
I asked Erin how she even NOTICED Good Sam(aritan) on the side of the road, and she told me, “I look at things on the side of the road. Rspecially things that might be "road kill" because, in my experience, road kill is often not actually dead and needs help.  I wish more people would look and would stop.   ESPECIALLY if you are the one that hit the poor thing.”  I don’t think any readers will be surprised to learn that this is not Erin’s first side of the road rescue…  And she says that almost all of them were done solo.  In her words, “If YOU don’t do it, no one will”.  Words to live by in life in general, and of course in animal rescue, too. 

In my Pollyana version of this story, Good Sam(aritan) gets a little Lego cart and uses it to get around his new friend Erin’s house.  The vet waives the crazy expensive bill for his treatment, and they all live happily ever after.  And in real life, while Erin OFFERED to adopt the turtle, apparently the state of Maryland won’t let people own turtles anymore so she can’t L.  But the GOOD NEWS is that in an update posted a couple day after she rescued him, Erin reported that Good Sam moved one of his back legs so he might not need a special Lego cart to get around!  And the vet will contact nature preserves and find him a good home to live in where he can teach Maryland kids about wildlife!

Let’s let Erin finish this piece up in her own words, “It really was a fantastic day of positivity and kindness - from the animal hospital staff who didn't waive me off like a loon nor stick to the letter of the law about "owning" turtles, to the vet who took Good Sam in as a personal project despite it looking like he would have a lifelong disability, to the random woman in the waiting room with her dog on her day off who offered to stick around and send me text updates as they learned more, to the folks at work who took my tardiness in stride.”

A beautiful, KIND human being

Erin, thanks for reminding us to stop and help.  I know that after hearing about your kindness, we will all be more observant and won’t just “give up” on animals on the side of the road without pulling over to check them out.  THANK YOU!

If you know of someone who is kind to animals, to people, or just KIND – please tell me about them!  I am hunting for more Kindness Activists to recognize!  Email me at , and while you are at it, follow Kindness Activist on Twitter @KindActivist .   

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