Friday, October 15, 2010

Squirrels Refuse Medical Care, Blame the Economy

Squirrels Refuse Medical Care, Blame the Economy

Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk syndicate
Copyright 2010

"Squirrels Refuse Medical Care."

Yes, that's a real headline. No, it wasn't from The Onion. It was the Washington Post. The Washington "We Broke Watergate" Post.

In late September, in Alexandria, Virginia, someone called Animal Control about an injured squirrel on the sidewalk in a residential neighborhood. When an Animal Control officer showed up, the squirrel scrambled up a tree.

The Animal Control officer saw another squirrel nearby, also on the sidewalk, but it appeared dazed. He took it back to the Animal Welfare League to examine it further, but the squirrel woke up and "resisted attempts to be handled." So the officer returned the squirrel to the area where it had originally been found.

An extremely slow news day nowithstanding, I was intrigued at the idea of squirrels who would refuse medical care. The AWL is supported by taxes, so it's more of a free clinic than a for-profit hospital, but his actions were a little odd, even for a squirrel.

I took a quick trip to Arlington, to see what I could learn. A quick visit to the Animal Welfare League office and a peek at the call log, and I was able to find the squirrels' neighborhood.

I had a little trouble tracking down the squirrels' home, but finally found it, a big oak duplex in a neighborhood of single family oaks and maples. I knocked on the door.

"Who is it?" demanded a squirrel, opening the door. "What do you want?"

"Mr. Mosher?" I said.

"No, Mathus. Mosher lives next door. You from the government?" Mathus accused. At the sound of his name, Mosher opened his door.

"Can I help you?" he said.

"I'm wondering about this story in the Washington Post. It says that you were both involved in some kind of incident, but you refused medical treatment."

"Well, it was hardly a serious injury," said Mosher. "We were arguing about the mid-term elections, when a gust of wind knocked us off our branch. We were both sort of dazed, but when that Animal Control officer showed up, I didn't need any medical attention, so I went home. I thought Mathus was right behind me."

"So you were the one who went to the Animal Welfare League?" I asked Mathus.

"Taken against my will, you mean," said Mathus. "If I hadn't refused treatment, they probably would have put me in one of those death camps. I made such a stink they had no choice but to bring me back home."

"Now, Jimmy, you know there's no such thing as 'death camps,'" said Mosher. "That was just a big lie Sarah Palin made up to scare people about health care reform."

"So you say," spat Mathus. "All I know is I wasn't going to let some knock on the noggin give them an excuse to put me in a camp or some home against my will."

I wrote a few notes, and turned to the other squirrel. "What about you, Mr. Mosher? The newspaper said that when you were approached by the officer, you ran back into your home."

Mosher looked down at his feet. When he spoke, his voice was quiet, embarrassed. "I don't have any insurance, and I knew a trip to the emergency room would wipe me out. I thought if I hid, he would just leave me alone."

"That's because he lost his job, thanks to Obama's so-called stimulus spending," said Mathus.

"Actually, if you'll recall, James," interrupted Mosher, "I lost my job three weeks after Obama took office. In fact, our whole division got laid off, because our workload was being outsourced overseas."

"Bah," said Mathus, waving his paw.

"Anyway," continued Mosher. "I was just resting after the fall. I figured I'd stay with Jimmy until he was awake. But when that big guy showed up, I panicked. I don't have much in savings, what with the economy and all. So when he came, I was worried they were going to perform a bunch of needless tests and bill me right into bankruptcy."

"See? That's Obamacare for you!" said Mathus. "They'll do anything to get your money.

"Jimmy, the new healthcare plan doesn't go into effect for another year. Besides, healthcare money doesn't go to the government."

The two squirrels fell to bickering about healthcare reform, the economy, and the war, sounding more and more like TV pundits (only smarter). While the recession may be over, it's going to be a long, slow road to recovery. And when squirrels are refusing medical help for fear of losing their life savings, I can only imagine how things are going for the rest of us.

I mumbled my thanks to the politically active squirrels, and left. I still had to interview a groundhog about extending the Bush-era tax cuts.

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