Contrary to what Tucson parents might tell their kids, unwanted goldfish flushed down the toilet don’t end up merrily swimming round Reid Park’s duck pond and small animals let loose in a midtown neighborhood do not live happily ever after.
They are lucky to live at all.
The most recent case of an abandoned pet left to fend for itself was a plump, handsome lizard that somehow ended up in my yard. While he tried his best to blend in with all the wild lizards leaping around the scene, something about him was different.
For starters, he became up trapped in a piece of plastic grass netting that all wild lizards innately avoid. While I was gingerly cutting the rotund reptile out of his trap with a pair of snips, I got a closer look at the beast and realized he was trapped because of the spikes encircling his neck.
The thing was a bearded dragon, promptly nicknamed Trappy, and not the usual sleek, slinky lizard skittering from the sprinkler or doing push-ups on the cinderblock fence. Once Trappy was set free, he didn’t scamper behind the mesquite like all the wild lizards do but rather sat and stared at me for some time before lumbering off into the distance.
Then my dog Phoebe killed him.
Also unlike the wild lizards that know to skedaddle when they see my dog coming, Trappy just kind of sat there when he was cornered. I gave him a second chance by chasing him away from the dog and into the gazebo but, alas, Trappy lumbered out into the open and into the jaws of death.
If it’s any consolation to the person who abandoned dear Trappy, the neck spikes did make my dog’s tongue bleed. And we did give Trappy a proper burial out front amongst the small graves of all my former rats (which died from old age and not dog puncture wounds).
This is not the first time an abandoned pet has become my dog’s chew toy. A pet hamster that was left on the crest of ditch near the Rillito riverbed on a pile of pine shavings and seeds fell victim last year. We spied the abandoned hamster one cold fall evening and, as I was deciding where I was going to put his new cage after I rescued the thing, my dog had already grabbed the poor rodent in her mouth.
If it’s any consolation to the person who abandoned the dear hamster, the dogs did go sliding down the ditch after Phoebe made her kill. And I did cover up the hamster carcass with a pile of dried leaves.
So the best you can bet on if you are planning to abandon a pet is a burial in a ditch or someone’s front yard graveyard. Or maybe their body won’t get a proper burial at all.
The Humane Society of Southern Arizona takes in small animals. Others can be given away for free on sites like Craigslist or ClassifiedAds.com. Put a flier at the pet store. Ask your friends and neighbors. Just please stop leaving them out in the heat or the cold to fend for themselves in the Wild West of midtown.
Even though Phoebe’s tongue is still healing from the lizard spikes, she remains on the lookout for her next squiggly chew toy and domesticated small animals are the only beasts slow and docile enough for her to catch.