If you love your pet, don't set it free

When you buy or get a pet, there are certain things you also acquire with the animal.
Making the decision to get a pet, no matter what the species, goes beyond the cute and furry factor. You are obligated to take care of the creature for its lifespan, making sure it has proper care, including food, water and living space.
It goes without saying that there are some people in this world who should not be allowed to own a pet.
But how does this relate to the outdoors?
Well, this point was driven home to me this past week after a co-worker showed me something he found near his home in southern Mahoning County.
Next to his house, not far from Western Reserve Road, along a recently scraped access road, was the evidence.
What obviously was once someone's prized pet lay dead and stiff along the road. It wasn't your normal pet; this was a 10 1/2- to 11-foot-long snake. Yes, a snake. Since there are no native Ohio snakes that grow that large, my experts tell me that it likely was a python.
The sad part is that this pet, which probably was raised from a young hatchling, had been fed, care for, possible loved, until it was too large and too expensive to keep and feed.
At this point, the owner thought he was doing the snake a favor by dumping it in the woods.
There's no telling how long the creature lived before it died. By the looks of it, the snake was run over and killed by a tractor that was grading the dirt road.
Above and beyond the stupidity of letting such a creature loose is the danger it may have posed to other animals.
A snake this size could easily capture, kill and consume cats, dogs, fox, rabbits, and would probably scare the heck out of a human upon an encounter.
My co-worker and some friends who came upon its remains were startled enough as it was.
Even more disconcerting is the long-term problems that people may cause with this kind of a dumping.
While Ohio's winters would more than spell doom for a python or similar snake, there are other parts of the country where this is not the case.
Down South
For example, Florida is having a devil of a time with reptiles, amphibians, tropical fish and other animals that can easily survive and reproduce in its warmer climate.
Non-native species in Ohio that were accidentally introduced, such as the zebra mussel, have caused similar trouble and expense.
The bottom line is that if you take on the responsibility of a pet, such as a snake, rabbit, cat or dog, and can no longer care for the animal, make a good-faith effort to find it a good home. Contact pet stores, animal charity or Angels for Animals to see if they can help.
Above all, do not think that letting your pet go in the woods is anything close to a humane solution. Chances are that the pet you once enjoyed with cause other animals to suffer and eventually suffer a painful death itself.

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