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In the past few months, I have seen threedomestic rabbits and numerous dogs and cats that have been set free to live in the wild. By releasing a pet into a park or field, people are condemning that animal to a life of suffering.

Domesticated animals rely on their human owners to provide them with food, shelter, health care and love. Finding food and shelter is not as instinctive as most people believe it to be.

Do people ever wonder what happens to the animal that they set free? Usually it is brought to me or my colleagues by a good Samaritan or an animal-control officer. Often the pet is starved or disease-ridden, with broken bones or maggot-infested wounds.

Owning a pet, whether it be a mammal, reptile or bird, should not be a spur-of-the-moment decision. Pet ownership should be taken seriously for the large responsibility it is. That means providing care and love to that animal for its entire life, not just until the novelty wears off.

If circumstances change and an individual can no longer care for that pet, every effort should be made to find an alternate home. If one cannot be found, then the pet should be turned over to the SPCA or an appropriate shelter.

More people need to take pet ownershipresponsibly. If they did, millions of unwanted animals would not be "put to sleep" humanely every year. A pet should never be set free into the wild under any circumstances.

L. Scott Tyczka, D.V.M.
Cheektowaga Veterinary Hospital

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