OPINION: This possum didn't die alone

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

I was driving through downtown Tupelo one night last month when I spotted a furry lump in the middle of Green Street. My eyes fixed the motionless mass as my car rolled near.
Poor thing, I thought, realizing it was a dead possum. I hate seeing the bodies of crushed creatures lying in the road. It seems so cruel.
But as I drove past the possum, it began to move. It lifted its broken body and shuffled a half-foot toward the curb.
I slammed on my brakes.
I’m no big possum lover, but I can’t just leave an injured animal struggling in the street. I had to help it.
My hazard lights flashed as I exited the car. The possum wiggled a bit nearby, then looked at me as I approached. His eyes shimmered with shock, blood dripped from his ears. He was in bad shape.
I called a friend from the Tupelo-Lee Humane Society, who advised me to call 911. So I did.
“What’s your emergency?” the dispatcher asked.
My injured possum hardly qualified as an emergency, but I relayed my information nonetheless.
“Yes,” I said, “I’m standing near an injured possum on Green Street, and I won’t leave it until someone comes to help.”
Meanwhile, I waved approaching traffic around my car and the possum, trying to protect it from further assault.
It took just minutes before a squad car arrived. Its blue and white lights flashed along with my yellow hazards. We created a little scene on our stretch of the street.
The officer was polite but shrugged his shoulders. He didn’t know what to do with an injured possum, he said. We both stared at the creature for a moment, and then another squad car arrived. More blue lights, more people.
Then another car. It was an unmarked police cruiser carrying a detective. He joined the small crew now circling the possum. Our vehicles blocked a large portion of Green Street so that oncoming traffic had to squeeze around us. Motorists gawked from their windows, no doubt wondering why this possum garnered so much police presence – as well as that of a Daily Journal reporter.
“That’s one important possum,” I imagined people saying as they drove past us.
Finally, the detective grabbed a special pole from his trunk. He nudged it under the creature’s body and, grabbing the tail with his free hand, lifted it from the street. The detective carried the possum to a large magnolia tree in a nearby lawn and set him down.
“Thanks,” I said.
One by one, the detective and officers drove away. I was alone with my possum. My yellow lights blinked. Then I drove away, too.
I learned the next day that the city’s animal-control officer found the possum shortly after we’d left the scene. He placed it in his truck and was driving it to a wildlife rehabilitation specialist when the possum passed away.
I felt bad. But at least it didn’t die alone in the middle of the street. I hate it when that happens.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.