The Daily Illini

Be considerate of animals this winter

Alayna Nulty

Alayna Nulty

By Lifei Chen, Columnist

As the weather gets colder and colder, people are starting to wear sweaters, hoodies and down coats outside. As for other creatures, squirrels are busy finding nuts and digging holes, and birds are saving branches and making themselves warm nests in order to survive the winter.

But have you ever considered some animals might be living in your car? If you’re driving in the winter, you should check your engine, hood and under the car before heading out.

While the engine is still warm for a while after you turn off the car, homeless or wild animals on campus may see this place as a cozy, new home. These animals often spend the night or even raise their young inside the vehicle. Animals, like squirrels, love to squeeze themselves into tiny little spaces, which is why the crevices of your car serve as a perfect location. Some car owners have even found the wires inside their cars eaten by rats. This situation will get even worse if an animal climbs into the wrong place, and you fail to notice.

Keep in mind animals could be killed if they get stuck in your car and may begin to smell.

However, there are ways to prevent these animals from staying in your car.

First, check your car, especially beneath the tires, before you start the engine. If the animal is under your car, you can make a loud noise to scare them out from underneath. Second, keep your car clean and utilize different scents like mint or lemongrass to keep the animals away. Some scents are too strong for their noses.

If you are unsure whether the animal is wild or is someone’s pet, there are few steps you can do to save their lives.

If you’re comfortable, attempt to catch them. Most stray animals are sick or injured, so it is possible they will bite you because they are afraid and think you are dangerous. It is better to wear your gloves or mittens in case they attack you.

Give them some treats. If you can find some water or food in your car, please don’t hesitate to give it to them. They may have been lost and starving for several days or weeks. If they accept your food, try to lure them into your car.

All in all, you should wait for the help of experts. While the poor animal is in your car, you can call the local animal control agency for help. The experts there will help you save the animal and find a new home for them.

If you decide to take the animal home or find its owner yourself, remember to call the local animal shelter and give a picture of the animal you found in case the owner is looking for it. Before you take the animal into your home, go to the veterinarian. Make sure it is properly vaccinated and any injuries are taken care of.

Last but not least, check the law. Some laws may suggest that it is illegal to take the stray animal in as your pet.  

Let’s keep in mind how we can better civilians this winter because we share the planet with more than just humans.

Lifei is a junior in LAS.

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