It all started with a plea from Beth Alice on social media. She found a baby skunk with its head stuck in a sewer grate on Arlington Avenue between West 256th and West 259th streets.
Alice had reached out to every city agency she could think of, but none were responding in a way she had hoped. So she turned to Twitter.
“It’s really awful that no one is coming to help this animal in distress,” she wrote. “If this was a kitten or puppy, would someone from a NYC agency come to help?”
While no city agency ultimately came out, Alice did get something better: Her neighbors. A small group of people showed up to the grate on the hot day — including Councilman Eric Dinowitz — to demonstrate that all life is precious. Even life that will spray you with a foul substance while trying to save its life.
This small group lifted the heavy grate up on its side, allowing one of them better access to the troubled young animal. And after some careful work, the baby skunk was freed.
It was an accomplishment not just to help a creature in distress, but also prove how effective this community can be when we all come together for a good cause.
That indeed happens time and again here, but it can never be often enough. It seems to be human nature to complain and not lift a finger rather than jump to action and make a difference.
Beth Alice could have easily kept walking that day. She could have later taken to social media and complained about the presence of unwelcome wildlife in our community like skunks.
She didn’t, however. And instead she made a difference for a skunk who has only known this world for months, if not weeks. Sure, the skunk can’t comprehend fully want happened or even say thank you. But gratitude was not something Alice or her neighbors were looking for that day. They were just following their own instincts, and doing the right thing.
The rest of us, however, can say “thank you.” And that’s exactly what we are doing right here.
To Beth Alice, Councilman Dinowitz and the rest of the neighbors who helped a creature in need: Thank you.