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Keepers of the Snail.



"It's a hard life, being so tiny"
English weather is notoriously capricious. While the random bursts of heavy rain are welcomed by nature, those in a melancholic mood, and shaggy dogs eager to stretch their paws, it also brings with it the despairing appearance of the snail community, onto the walkways and pavements of London. It is not so much the visit of these little shelled fellas that bothers me; I have always found snails friendly, peaceful, and - like all life, simply trying to survive another day. It is the perilous danger they place themselves under; in relation to the mercy of human feet, which causes my frustration.

In thirty-two years, I have accidentally crushed around 10 – 15 of these creatures whilst walking; cursing myself each time for doing so. Whenever this happens, even If accidental, my emotional response is a mixture of shock, guilt, regret, and a general low; I have just taken a life, and my conscience cannot allow me to ignore that fact. I quickly allow myself to let it go - as I have to let it go, but it is an awful, stomach dropping feeling. All these guys wanted to do was avoid drowning under the surface water; and with a little protection and concern on my side, may have made it. Then again, this fate is true of many creatures on Earth...

According to the Humane Society of the United States, around 2.7 million dogs and cats (3% of the American population), are euthanized in rescue shelters each year. While giving their all to saving these innocent souls, quite often a point is reached - especially when the ideal scenario of re-homing becomes unlikely, the owners decide euthanasia a more viable option; than a continual suffering within the financially threadbare conditions, of a non-profit rescue shelter. They have to live with the knowledge of a soul departed, purely because somewhere along the lines - ignorance metaphorically stepped on them, without considering the impact. Much like the wandering snail, while one cat or dog's life may not seem important; when placed in a number of 2.7 million, it is the most important thing in the world, to that solitary one. 

Last night, I travel home on the tube; avoiding the heavy English rain. To my surprise, I see a vulnerable baby snail; lost in the middle of a busy carriage. Certain he is doomed at any moment, I safely pick him up and place him on my knee. At our journeys end, I sneak him outside the station into daylight; the naughty snail didn’t buy a ticket, then place him safely on a wet patch of corner grass, and say goodbye. While it doesn’t make up for all the snails I unintentionally crushed, I hope this fella makes it through; finding noms and adequate shelter for the evening. If the pain of crushing a life is like carrying a ten-story brick house on my shoulders, the clarity of saving another, feels like resting on a dozen comfortable clouds. I then remember; as much as the pain of suffering is heightened in death, so is the joy of wonder in the sanctity of giving life, aswell.

In a perfect world, every rescue story ends like the tube snail; and none like those crushed in the rain. While there is a long way to go before euthanasia is rendered a memory of the past, our species move closer every day. Because while 2.7 million senseless lives went last year alone, four decades ago it was closer to 20 million (25% of the American population). It is you, the animal lovers - the saints and saviours of our world, and the undying love and sacrifice you give to these creatures, which make the world of difference. In many wonderful ways, you are all keepers of the snail.

I just wanted to remind everybody of this...

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