Guestpost by Nicole Corrado
On the morning of November 22, 2021, Toronto Police Emergency Task Force fatally shot a coyote behind a school and sent her body away for rabies testing. The coyote was healthy, but she had likely been fed by humans, and had mildly bitten two people one day prior. It seems like this coyote was fed by people. Rabies is rare in coyotes, and has not been in Toronto’s terrestrial mammals for over 25 years. And a doctor can safely vaccinate the person who was bitten without testing the animal. I feel the police overreacted. Toronto rarely kills dogs for biting people.
However, the police response came as no surprise to me. Police officers often taser, shoot, injure, and often kill persons with disabilities who communicate and act differently, especially neurodivergent persons and persons with a mental illness.
Our society fears illness, but anything that affects the mind causes a much greater fear than physical disability or illness. I am an autistic vegan, and ever since I was a child, I was bothered by stories of animals being killed and dissected for rabies testing.
The fear of rabies is not just feared because it is a fatal illness. The rabies fear is rooted in the fact that it affects one’s behaviour. The werewolf myth is a prime example of this ancient fear of persons who are different. One fears that, if bitten, one will become a non human animal, and lose one’s humanity. Derogatory terms like “dumb”, and “furious”, are used to both describe humans who communicate differently, and animals with rabies.
I recall as a child reading references to animals being “sacrificed and examined for rabies”. Since ancient times, animals were sacrificed to appease angry spirits. I always wondered, if in a way, people did macabre ritualistic things, (like rabies testing) to an animal’s head “prove” animals were “soulless”, the misconception of having no soul was attributed to “less human” or “more animal” persons; people who were Neurodivergent, persons with a mental illness, or persons with a cognitive or intellectual disability.
I have always felt the human and non human animal’s soul was seated in their head, with their thoughts and feelings. I believe all human and non human animals have an immortal soul, no matter what kind of body or mind they have.
I hope that, with all the knowledge and activism out there, that violent police response to human and non human emergencies will be replaced by education and a peaceful, civilian response.
- Stop killing animals for rabies testing and psittacosis control
- Justice for Bayview Coyote! Protect Toronto Area Coyotes
Nicole Corrado is a visual artist based in Toronto. She is vegan, and on the autism spectrum. She can be reached at www.nicolecorradoart.wordpress.com