Animal Welfare

There is no such thing as divorce for a pet owner

Responsible pet ownership should have the same meaning for everyone, but actually, it doesn’t. For animal lovers, there is a moment of weakness that rears it’s ugly head every time we see a furry face with beckoning eyes beaming into ours. If it’s a kitten, you pick him up and he starts to purr. The logical side of your brain suddenly evaporates, and with every stroke of his tiny body, the purring gets louder and you get one step closer to making what might be the wrong decision.

Perhaps you already know you can’t take on another pet because you already have 3 or 4 at home. Maybe your work schedule is about to change and you know deep down you’re not going to have time to take care of him the way you know you should. Or maybe the expense of keeping him up to date on shots, flea treatments, and quality food is just beyond your budget right now.

Thousands of animals end up in shelters every year because people who thought they could take care of a pet found out that they couldn’t. A responsible pet owner makes sure they do not become one of them. In some parts of the Tampa Bay area shelters are taking in dogs at a rate of 300 a month.

Pet ownership – done right – is a lifetime commitment. That means if your new puppy wets the floor because you didn’t take him out, or he is just too young to know the difference, you don’t “get rid of him” after 2 months. If the cat you found in a dumpster scratches your favorite chair, you don’t put her back out on the street, or have her declawed (very inhumane for a cat).

Like a good marriage, you work though problems with your pet, because unlike your “Ex” an animal will not adjust as well to being “dumped.” There is no such thing as divorce in pet ownership – at least not for a responsible one.

Originally published on

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Two dogs rescued on expressway: Local car dealer called a hero

If not for the heroic efforts of workers at a local car dealership, two dogs might be dead right now. Mechanic Erik Miller, from Rick Matthews Buick/GMC in Brooksville, Florida, was out on a test drive at about 10:30 this morning, when he spotted a greyhound and a lab mix wandering along SR 50, the busy highway in front of the dealership. The 2 dogs were heading north onto the Suncoast Expressway.

Miller said, “when I saw the dogs on the road, I went and got the owner right away.”
Dealership owner, Rick Matthews had been a greyhound owner for years and currently had 2 rescues of his own at home.

The owner of the wandering ex-racing greyhound, Nikki Tobin of Brooksville, had notified County Animal Services of Bucky’s escape at about 11 AM, and was already out searching when she got a call from the agency regarding the location of her dog. And the news was not good.

“Your dog has been spotted with another dog on the Suncoast Expressway just north of Highway 50,” the Animal Services caller said.

On the way toward where Bucky was last seen, Tobin feared that by the time she got there, her greyhound might already have met tragedy from a speeding car. More than 6 miles from home, the two dogs were spotted in the median of the northbound lane on the Suncoast Expressway. Across the road, the posse of rescuers from the dealership had assembled their own parking lot on the shoulder. Miller and Service Manager Tom Deem, who were just behind the dogs on foot, had been unable to catch them for more than an hour.

When Tobin pulled up alongside the three other vehicles the car dealership had sent, she managed to coax the black lab mix to safety and quickly leashed him. But Bucky refused to stop.

Within moments, all watched helplessly as Bucky was nearly killed when a speeding pick up truck towing a trailer, missed him by a matter of inches. Despite the obvious presence of the dog and more than a half-dozen people roadside, the vehicle never slowed from the speed limit of 70 MPH.

An exhausted Bucky was finally caught and brought home. However, the fate of the black lab mix remains uncertain. Mechanic Eric Miller said, while he’d love to keep the sweet, obviously well behaved young dog, he already has 4 at home, including 2 golden retrievers, a welsh corgie mix, and a pit bull named Sissy. Tobin offered to help find him a good home if Miller couldn’t keep him, but she also has 4 dogs; all rescues. The lab mix is likely an abandoned stray. He was underweight and had no collar.

While some car dealers have a reputation for being less than benevolent, that is clearly not the case with the people at Rick Matthews Buick/GMC in Brooksville, Florida.  Their quick mobilization and unselfish efforts made a difference in the life of 2 dogs, and the family that loved Bucky.

If anything could be said of Rick Matthews and his crew, it might be they must be crazy. They would have to be, to be willing to leave their jobs to go stand in the middle of a road full of cars going 70 MPH, just to save 2 dogs. Sometimes crazy is good. And in this case, you might even call it heroic.

And it your wondering why the girl who lost her dog has the same last name as I do... well, she is my daughter.