Listen and watch for dogs and cats accidentally trapped in sheds, garages, and even homes, when families leave for winter vacations. Mis-communications or mistakes can be devastating. Sunbear was trapped in a townhouse laundry room when his owner left town; he died.
It can happen in your neighborhood. You are a dog or a cat, and your family loves you. They left for vacation and arranged for your care. But communication about the date was faulty, or a voicemail was lost, or the caregiver was irresponsible. And you have not been fed or watered for days.
One Tennessee family with five dogs came home to four very thin dogs and one dead dog; their vacation was interrupted by a call from police. A neighbor alerted the authorities about the starving animals. The family was charged with criminal animal neglect, and they in turn pursued legal action against their teenaged petsitter who had forgotten about agreeing to petsit.
Another family went to Florida for two months to help a relative, leaving their pack of hunting hounds in charge of their 16-year-old son. It was a bad decision; the teenager was neglectful — four puppies and and their mother died of starvation and dehydration. A neighbor alerted the authorities about the poor conditions of the dogs as seen from the county road. The parents were charged with neglect but were cleared of wrongdoing during trial for criminal animal neglect in their rural Wisconsin community.
Sunbear was trapped in a townhouse laundry room when his owner arranged to rehome him and left town for a new job, but the new family never picked him up. A lost voicemail to say they changed their minds was the cause. His owner never called to check on Sunbear in his new home. And so Sunbear waited for six weeks alone, in the dark, without food or water. A bag of dog food waited outside the laundry room door. Neighbors on both sides of the townhouse did not report hearing him; maybe he never uttered a sound loud enough.
It can happen in your neighborhood, too. Always be alert. Watch and listen for signs of distress. A life may depend on it.
And if you are leaving your pet in the care of a service or an individual while you are on vacation, call to check on your pet’s well-being.