Be the person who stops
June 29, 2023
On Monday night I was driving along Dewar Drive in Rock Springs when the car in front of me swerved. I saw something in the road, then saw it move. As I slowed down and swerved to avoid it I realized it was a dog. In my rearview mirror I saw it leave its hunkered down position and start running, with a limp, to avoid oncoming cars.
Feeling flustered, I kept driving, thinking I hoped the poor thing would get off the road and be safe. But then my thoughts kept going. It was obviously hurt, it didn't look like any owners were around, where would it go, and would it be alright?
I quickly pulled over and drove through parking lots to circle back to the direction I'd seen the dog running. Then I saw a group of three young women huddled together, holding the dog. About the same time as I reached them, so did another woman.
The dog, a small female that appeared to be a Shiba Inu and didn't have a collar, was calm while she was being held and wrapped her in a blanket. Her back leg was hurt and she had cuts on her body and above her eye, as well as some blood around her nose and mouth that had us all concerned.
We all set to work calling around to find a vet that could take a look at her right away. We also called RSPD dispatch and had two officers come to evaluate and help us consider what to do. After weighing the options, Jordan Nomura and Ava Penner ended up taking the dog home, and a little later Kylie Bosh and her aunt Kayla Lane were able to get her to a vet. Ashley Hernandez also posted the dog's photo on the Facebook group "Missing & Found Animals Sweetwater County WY."
Thankfully, the story has a happy ending. Nova, the dog, didn't have any internal bleeding or serious injuries, just some scratches and bruises, which the vet said was amazing. Ashley was able to communicate with people on Facebook to get in touch with the owner, who met with the others at the vet and got Nova home safe and sound.
I'm relieved I got to know this happy ending instead of just wondering and hoping that the dog I saw would be ok. If I hadn't stopped, I wouldn't have known.
That got me thinking about the times we stop to help, and the time we don't.
Ultimately, in this case, the fact that I stopped didn't make a huge difference in what happened. It was the others who stepped in so much to help and took care of the situation. But what if they hadn't stopped? Who knows what could have happened to poor Nova.
I recently watched the film "A Man Called Otto." In it there is a scene where an old man falls onto a train track with an oncoming train. People on the platform gasp and pull out their phones to record, but just stand there. Only the grumpy old Otto jumps down onto the track to help the man up.
When I watched the scene, it felt a little exaggerated, especially with its portrayal of teenage influencers who livestream what happened, just to turn the camera on themselves with smiles and tell the audience to "follow us." I thought, "surely in real life people would jump to help, not just jump to livestream."
Maybe I'm just not comfortable accepting a reality where the vast majority of people won't help, even if I know that's often the case. I'm also not comfortable with the overly judgmental view of the younger generation who are portrayed as only caring about their phones and themselves - especially because on Monday night several of the women who went above and beyond to help were from that younger generation.
But also, I get it. I understand that lots of times, regardless of age, people just don't stop. They don't jump in. They think "someone else will help."
I get it because too many times I am that person. I think that someone else who is more qualified and able to help than I am will come along. Sometimes that's probably true. But I don't actually know that in any given circumstance.
If we all tell ourselves that "someone else will help," then none of us will actually be that someone else.
So I'm encouraging everyone - be the person who stops.
Obviously, this comes with caveats. Always do what you need to in order to keep yourself safe. Prioritize the things that matter. Recognize the situations when you might make things worse instead of better.
But when you have the ability, which most of us do more often than we want to admit, be willing to stop, to check to see if anyone else is helping, to jump in when no one else is, to reach out to people who could. This could be for a hurt or lost animal, someone broken down on the side of the road, the quintessential little old lady needing to cross the street, or anything else imaginable.
We've seen times in our community where someone stopping to help made a drastic difference, like when Ryan Pasborg smelled smoke and ended up saving the lives of the Wadsworth family. There are also countless times people stop to help that largely go unrecognized, like Jordan, Ava, Kylie, and Ashley stopping to help Nova. They're all important.
I'm proud we live in a community where people regularly do stop to help. Let's all keep that going.