Warning - photos of rat killed by Penny - might be disturbing to some.
We have rats in our garden and I hope they don't come inside as the weather gets colder. One of them, at least, won't be venturing into the house, because Penny killed it today. I'm feeling quite conflicted about this, because I deliberately sicced her onto the rat.
A few times previously we've come across rats in the daytime and I've called Penny out to scare them off, not wanting her to actually kill them. But today, the poor little rat got trapped by her and I had a choice - would I stand by and see her kill another creature, or would I call her away? While I was wrestling with this ethical problem (and shouting through the open front door for someone to bring a camera), Penny preempted my decision and grabbed the rat. There was one heart-rending squeal and there it lay at our feet. Hopefully instantly dead - but I couldn't in all honesty say painlessly, which disturbs me.
I know we don't want rats around, but they are also living creatures who feel pain and fear, and I hated to see this one die.
It was quite disturbing to see how efficiently and quickly Penny dispatched it.
And then she was left with the problem of what to do with it. She sniffed. She looked around. She sniffed. She looked around. I wondered if she was asking herself why this toy wasn't entertaining any more. Who knows what a dog thinks?
So we called her in and I took the even more disturbing step of chopping it with a shovel to make sure it wasn't still alive and suffering. It will take me a while to foget the horrible feel of the shovel chopping into that furry little body.
Would I do it again? I'm not sure. Maybe. In one way, I think it's better than condemning the rat to dying of thirst, which rat bait does, or possibly injuring it in a rat trap but not killing it outright.
And I also wonder if rats perhaps get bad press, and whether we can just live and let live as we do with other creatures.