Warning: Contains one slightly graphic photo

I needed to grab some groceries on my way home from Aurora a few weeks ago. I searched for a nearby Safeway and got off on the Frederick Exit.

As I exited the interstate at about 50 mph, a large snapping turtle went under my car. I narrowly avoided him and nearly suffered a heart attack. I couldn’t make a U-turn on the exit ramp, so I got back on I-25 and backtracked to return to the turtle. I held my breath as I arrived on the scene and noticed he wasn’t in the road anymore. Two other cars were pulled over: A large, white Ford truck and an old school Honda civic.

I asked what happened to the turtle, assuming someone had run him over. The hispanic couple and older gentleman stated they didn’t hit the turtle, but he was injured nonetheless. The three managed to move him to the side of the road full of weeds, litter and cigarette butts. His shell was cracked and blood dripped from his nose.

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We called local veterinarians, wildlife refugee centers and nonprofit animal rescues to no avail. We even called the Humane Society and random reptile pet stores. Oddly enough, my coworker Jodi and I surrendered an injured bird just a few weeks prior, but Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center only accepts mammals, birds and waterfowl. I’m not complaining by any means; what this center provides is more than most places, but after making countless calls, it became apparent that there was nothing we could do for the turtle.

The older guy knew some friends in the construction business passing a pond on their way home. His friend agreed to meet us on the exit and to take the turtle to the pond.

I left before his friend arrived, feeling such a range of emotions. On the one hand, the turtle appeared helpless. Pain is hard to measure; we didn’t know what he endured. We never found a place for injured reptiles and in all honesty, who the hell would sacrifice their fingers for a snapping turtle? By contrary, I met three people just as concerned about his wellbeing as I was. The chick and her boyfriend (I presume) wanted to take the turtle home as a pet. I strongly advised against this idea–the other guy agreed. But it warmed my heart for these two to offer shelter.

I don’t really have a happy ending to this story. I just hope the turtle made it to the pond and can somehow cope with his injuries. At the end of the day, it’s your intentions that count. You can’t save them all, but you can give it your best shot. As long as you’re trying to help instead of hurt, that’s what’s most important.