OK, this sounds harsh, but should pet owners be allowed to own a pet without taking a written test first? The inner veterinarian in me often thinks, no!
A few weeks ago, Shalanon Brooks left her "support dog" in a locked car while she casually attended the Six Flags Magic Mountain park. Rumor is that the zipper on her dog carrier bag was broken, so Ms. Brooks elected to leave her dog, Malibu, in the car instead. (This, to me, is abuse of a "support" dog, but that’s a whole other blog!) While Ms. Brooks left food and water in the car, she only left the windows "cracked" open during an 80°F day.
Thankfully, the security personnel and staff from Six Flags found the dog, and thought Malibu looked visibly overheated. So, kudos to Six Flags for taking the initiative to rescue Malibu from the hot car and taking Malibu back to the park’s kennel area to cool down and hydrate. The bad news? Malibu recovered well enough to escape from Six Flags, only to be lost for several days.
Don’t despair: A few days later, Malibu's owner, Shalanon Brooks, tweeted that her dog had been found and was returned to her.
That said, should Ms. Brooks have been allowed to have her dog back? After all, her poor decision making could have resulted in the death of her dog. Most animal advocates were fired up that she ended up getting Malibu back, as she didn’t seem deserving of pet-ownership after nearing killing her dog with heat stroke. Had Malibu been a two-legged human, I highly doubt child services would have been as forgiving.
And what about Kisha Curtis, 27, the owner of Patrick the pit bull? This starved, 20-some pound dog (who was supposed to be 50+ pounds) was thrown down a 22-story garbage chute in Newark, NJ. He was left for dead: hypothermic, anemic, dehydrated, and emaciated. Thankfully, Garden State Veterinary Hospital — along with the support of countless animal lovers across the world — was able to help him rally to a new home. Thankfully, Ms. Curtis didn’t get the rights back to her dog.
So, Daily Vet readers, take this test. If you can’t get the answers right, you are officially stripped of all pet-owning rights.
Which of the following methods best shows that you can be responsible for the life of a four-legged creature?
a. Throw it down a garbage chute.
b. Let it deep-fry in a car on a hot day.
c. Neglect veterinary care – after all, he’s indoor only and doesn’t need vaccines!
d. Love it the way it loves you: unconditionally.
Fire away — what do you think?
Dr. Justine Lee