DEAR ABBY: I am a 15-year-old girl who baby-sits for extra money. I baby-sat for a new family last week. After I put the kids to bed, I found a snake in the house. I was scared for the kids, so I grabbed a kitchen knife and chopped off the snake's head.
When the parents returned, I found out it was their pet snake that had escaped from its cage, and they were really angry. I feel terrible about it. Although I apologized, they won't talk to me when they see me in the neighborhood.
Should I write them a letter of apology or buy them a new snake? I don't know what the proper etiquette is when you kill someone's pet. -- RATTLED IN TEXAS
DEAR RATTLED: You reacted to what you perceived as a danger. What is unfortunate is that the couple for whom you were baby-sitting were so careless they not only failed to tell you they had an exotic pet in the house, but also compounded it by leaving without making sure the creature was securely in its cage where it belonged. You do not "owe" the family a replacement. They owe you an apology.