Be a responsible pet owner

Published 12:22 am Friday, October 21, 2011

To the Editor:

Beaufort County is full of pet owners. Within this group a wide range of responsibility levels exist. But I am writing in regards to one pet owner who I never met and the wonderful pet that came into our family more than two years ago.

This pet owner dropped Francis off at our house in the country on a steaming-hot day in August. When my son came home, he found this 70-pound, full-grown husky female under a tree. She was exhausted, overheated, hungry and heartworm positive with a huge, bloody tumor in her left eye. We named her Francis as a tribute to her loving blue eyes.

The last thing our family needed was another mouth to feed and more doctors’ bills, but it became apparent immediately that she was our dog. Her house manners were perfect, her manner was dainty and she was even a picky eater. This pet had been loved and house kept — by whom we could only guess.

Her medical frailty prevented us from treating her for heartworms or operating on the tumor in her eye. But we started heartworm prevention, paid for her shots, started flea-prevention measures, put her on a healthful diet and gave her lots of attention. Our wonderful friends at Pamlico Animal Hospital took great care of her, and guessed her to be 8 years or so old. To our surprise the tumor in her eye disappeared, and she was as healthy and happy as an aging husky can be with poor teeth, heartworms and no medical history.

A quick two years passed, and I grew used to the “husky-colored rug” that was always in my kitchen when I cooked, or at my feet as I ate (never begging) or who occasionally slept on the couch when she thought she could get away with it.

She would curl up in our dog bed four sizes too small and just gaze at us with all the love a pet owner could hope for.

This past February, my son found a golf ball-size lump on her lower abdomen. It quickly grew to a softball size. At her age, with her other medical issues, we knew without being told that treatment was at best uncertain. In spite of our highest hopes and another financial investment, our sweet Franny passed on March 31, 2011.

I urge pet owners to be more responsible. Your animals are at your mercy, as are the puppies and kittens they produce because you don’t have them spayed or neutered. If you cannot afford a pet, don’t get one. And if you find you cannot continue to keep a pet, drop it off at a shelter, not in the country on a back road or at the house of a stranger. Getting a pet is signing a moral contract to care for it. To love a pet, and even spoil a pet, and drop it into a cruel world of unknown is reprehensible.