DEAR ABBY: Over the years, I have seen many letters in your column about dogs and cats, but I can't recall seeing one about a hidden problem -- abandoned pets. My neighbors and I live in a rural section of Washington. We constantly see dogs and cats dumped on our road. Frightened, they run from help. They are chased by predators. With no hunting skills, and no food or clean water, they suffer in unimaginable ways -- dying slowly.
I vividly remember the plight of one cat. Maybe the owners thought by leaving it close to a house, it would find the loving home they could not provide. Day after day, it haunted the roadside. I stopped many times to try to lure it to safety, but it would hide frightened in the underbrush. Eventually, it was hit by a car. It had sat for days on the edge of the road, confident its owners would return to take it home.
Abby, please ask your readers to think twice before taking on the responsibility of an animal. If they must get rid of a pet, take it to a shelter. Dumping a pet on the side of the road is not the answer. People who live in the country have as many pets as they want and can afford. -- PET LOVER IN TENINO, WASH.
DEAR PET LOVER: Your letter is an important one, and it carries a message that has appeared in this column before.
Pet owners should indeed think twice before dumping an animal they want to dispose of. They should rid themselves of the fantasy that it will survive, because it probably won't. If they cannot bring themselves to take the animal to a shelter, then they should call a veterinarian for referral to a pet rescue group.