If you think home pest control is something you should always tackle on your own, you may change your mind after reading ABC news writer Joshua Gardner’s report on the tragic case of mistaken identity. In the midst of Halloween festivities last year, an 8-year-old girl in Pennsylvania was mistaken for a common household pest, then shot like one as well. If that weren’t bad enough, the shooter was her own cousin, too.
The little girl, wearing a black hat and a black shirt with a tassel running down the middle, could have won for the most “realistic costume” of the evening. Or this would have been the case, had Janet Grant and her son Thomas been the ones judging the competition: Janet mistakenly thought the girl was a real skunk and asked her son to shoot it. With Janet wielding a flashlight and Thomas armed with a shotgun, they proceeded to target the costumed child, who was struck in the abdomen and shoulder.
As a result of the shooting, the girl underwent surgery to repair the damage to her spine and internal organs. She continues to be regularly monitored for lead poisoning.
Thomas Grant wasn’t under the influence of drugs or alcohol when the shooting happened. As of February, 2013 charges of aggravated assault against him had been dropped, and he has now been placed on two-year-probation and ordered to pay the girl compensation.
The reaction that the Grants had to the possibility of a skunk attack, while irresponsible and horribly misguided, was not surprising. Skunk spray, after all, is notoriously noxious, with odor that can persist for weeks and even months. No one wants a skunk burrowing under their deck or porch and nesting there. Naturally, if there’s a wild skunk around, one’s first instinct would be to get rid of it, not nurture it.
Still, this kind of job is for professional wildlife control services. Not only would they take the skunk out of your hands, they’d also identify points of entry, clean out contaminated material, and institute measures to prevent future invasion. Here in Canada, for example, companies like Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control skillfully get rid of skunks for you, to spare you from the trouble of devising risky, improvised animal control methods. Professional wildlife handlers are also humane in their approaches, preferring to relocate animals like skunks, rather than immediately going for a shotgun, as the Grant family did.
In one way or another, many homes are infiltrated by pests that homeowners want to be rid of, with the approach taken in removing them is completely their choice. However, as it has been proven, there are dangers to just taking out a gun and shooting at supposed pests. It is definitely more advisable to defer to the judgment of professionals. At least one little girl will know not to dress up as a shunned forest creature in the future.