The squirrel lay crumpled by the side of a road in the suburbs, just another casualty of our human obsession with getting places fast.
At least that’s what Christina Weigner thought, until she saw it move.
Weigner, 20, appears at first glance to be a typical college student. Sparkly eyeshadow behind glasses with black plastic frames, chunky beanies and leggings make her slip deceivingly into the milling campus crowds at Santa Rosa Junior College, where she’s been enrolled since Spring of 2015. But if you expect this girl to be obsessed with parties, clothes and Instagram, you’re in for a surprise.
When she’s not in class or studying for her 12-unit course load, she’s rolling crepes at Ultra Crepes in Sebastopol — or driving the 35 minutes between work or school and her Geyserville home. And driving, for Weigner, often means stopping to help injured and distressed animals on the side of the road.
Asked what she does in her free time, Weigner laughed.
“What I would like to do, if I had any free time, is travel,” she answered. “Not to exotic places, although I’d probably enjoy that too. Just new places, places I haven’t been yet. And the beach, the woods, Yosemite.”
Weigner is studying for a degree in biology. She hopes to get into the evolution, ecology and biodiversity program at U.C. Davis, and perhaps someday go to vetrinarian school and become an animal rehabilitator.
She lights up as she talks about her dream of helping injured animals.
“Do you want to hear something cool?” she asks, almost bouncing in her enthusiasm. And she tells me the story about the squirrel.
It was still alive, she discovered when she stopped to check. One of its tiny legs was broken. Weigner and her boyfriend at the time picked it up and took it to an animal rehabilitation center.
“It’s kind of sad,” she finishes. “They called us later to tell us the squirrel had died.”
The local animal rehabilitation center, the Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue located in Petaluma on Mescham Road, offers tips on their website for how to help when encountering injured animals.
Always handle wild animals with gloves, and don’t give them food or water. Those who come across an animal that seems injured should call the Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue’s free advice and rescue hotline at 707-526-9453 (between 9 and 5:30 daily), or 707-526-WILD (9453) after hours. The trained staff will give instructions on moving and housing the animal and can arrange for transport to rehabilitation facilities.
Weigner hopes that someday she’ll be able to help give these stories a happy ending.
It’s easy to think that the squirrels of the world hope so too.