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Opinion >  Column

The Slice: When a pet isn’t the perfect gift

Someone in Spokane is going to have a chance to be a hero.

Here’s how it will happen.

Some person who is not even remotely capable of or interested in taking care of a pet is going to be given a puppy or kitten today.

Happens every Christmas.

Maybe the gift-giver is well-intentioned. Or perhaps the gift-giver is using the animal as part of some emotional manipulation. In the end, it doesn’t matter.

What matters is that the person now entrusted to take care of the pet is up to the job. And sometimes that simply is not the case.

Oh, sure. He or she might say all the right things at first. But owning a cat or dog isn’t about Christmas morning.

It’s about years and years of responsibility. In happy circumstances, a relationship can grow and a long-term friendship flourish.

But sometimes the person surprised with the gift of a pet gets bored with the puppy or kitten. Sometimes the person doesn’t really want to take care of it.

So he or she tries to give it away, but finds no takers.

And so, incapable of formulating a mature plan, the newbie pet owner starts to think about dumping the animal.

Someone will scoop it up and adopt it, right?

It could happen that way. But chances are, especially at this time of year, a far uglier outcome is more likely.

This is where our hero comes in.

Realizing the new pet owner does not value the dog or cat, our hero senses the pet is at risk of being driven somewhere and abandoned.

“I don’t know where she is,” the underachieving pet owner will lie. “She must have run away.”

Our hero does not want it to come to that. So he or she has a heart-to-heart talk with the recipient of the living Christmas gift. Then our hero sighs and assumes responsibility for the animal.

Maybe the pet will then wind up in a shelter, with a limited life expectancy.

But it will not die, freezing and emaciated, in the woods or in some parking lot surrounded by busy streets.

Maybe you know our hero. Maybe it’s even you.

But whoever it is that steps up to do the right thing, I hope that person knows.

All of Spokane salutes you.

Today’s Slice question: What do those who moved away long ago picture when they recall Christmas in Spokane?

Write The Slice at P. O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email pault@spokesman.com. May your days be merry and bright.

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