Dear Annie: Last year, my husband and I attended my cousin’s annual summer barbecue. After we arrived, I looked for a place to tie up our dog in the backyard and noticed a few dead rats. They appeared to have been there for some time. I made mention of this to my cousin’s husband, but he made no attempt to remove them even though they were only a few steps away from the barbecue pit.
I tied my dog several feet away from the dead rats. Later, when we returned home, our dog started scratching. This continued for several days until we noticed his fur was falling out. I believe he contracted mange from the dead rats.
We’ve been invited to their “last nice weather barbecue,” but I am reluctant to go. My husband says we should go regardless, but I feel that if they don’t care to get rid of the dead rats in their backyard, they shouldn’t expect to entertain guests there. And also, the guest bathroom is never clean when we visit. What do you think? – Disgusted in the Midwest
Dear Disgusted: We think your cousin and her husband are not particularly meticulous about their cleaning and don’t care if you notice. And while your dog may have contracted mange from something in their yard, there’s no way to be certain now. You can contact the health department in your city and report the conditions (most municipalities like to know if there is an increased rat population). But that may not solve your problem, which is whether or not to attend another barbecue there. We say give them one last chance – but don’t bring your dog.