Commentary by Katrina Owens
Something absolutely dreadful happened last week – my beagle almost died, okay perhaps died is an exaggeration but she did still become violently ill.
Why you may ask? Because I turned my head for a millisecond, and when I looked back she was head deep in an old coffee can turned into a make-shift ash tray outside one of the high schools in town. The worst part – the recent rain had filled it up with old, dirty, stinky cigarette water. My poor baby was drinking a toxic concoction that shouldn’t have been left there.
I know that it’s partially my fault; I should have been watching Copper more diligently. But at the same time, school’s out, and the can should have been moved after classes ended. This scary situation got me thinking, how much a pet can mean to owners and how quickly their lives can be taken away. It’s the ‘what-ifs’ that really got my head spinning at midnight, when I was rubbing her back in hopes it would comfort her to sleep.
Unfortunately it didn’t, and I was up until the crack of dawn helping her sip water of out my hand. This all happened because people forgot to clean up after themselves. I guess taking a minute-or-two out of ones schedule to drop their cigarette butts into a garbage can is too much to ask for.
Now before you start to get the pitch forks and torches, please know I don’t mean to insult anyone who smokes, I’m sure there is a fair amount of you that properly dispose of your cigarettes. But for you that don’t, you played a huge part in why I almost lost one of my loved ones, and although she isn’t human, she plays a huge roll in my life – emotionally, and physically.
At-the-time of her declining health (at print time, she was back up to her usually beagle antics), my thoughts were running wild. Aside from getting her home and getting her hydrated, I started to think what if she needs surgery and how will I pay for that?
I’m not a millionaire and I haven’t struck gold. What people need to realize is that by leaving something as tiny as a cigarette on the ground (or in an old coffee can), it doesn’t just put an animals health at risk; it also puts their owner in a sometimes hard financial state. Not everyone can afford expensive surgeries, especially when they can be completely avoidable.
My mom would say I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, and I would have to agree. I just find it baffling that people are still dropping their cigarettes on the ground like it’s nothing. Another huge reason why cigarettes should be properly tossed is fire season…needless to say when it’s dry it’s dry, and it doesn’t take much to spark one up.
And what about stray animals? I don’t want to think about what they go through after trying a nibble of a poorly discarded cigarette. At least I was able to stop Copper in just the knick of time, and then try to help her afterwards.