After reading Vicky McKenna’s “Hangin’ in There” column on Oct. 16, I was greatly disappointed and saddened that any editor of the Brentwood Press would allow this article to be printed for public review.
Before Vicki McKenna should yell and complain to the veterinarian and demand a refund for Marley’s death, she should take a very hard look in the mirror and ask, “Was I a good pet owner for Marley?” If she cannot come up with the answer to this question, I recommend that Vicki reads her article again.
Vicki’s article is a classic example of buying a cute furry pet for $12 at the local pet store and are naïve as to how to care for this animal. Then the $12 pet has a health problem; now the owner is unwilling to pay for the extra veterinary expense. Oh, by the way, that cute $12 hamster is not a cute fur ball in a cage; it is a life and you take on the responsibility to properly care for that life.
Vicky reluctantly takes Marley to a veterinarian after its condition has progressed to losing most of its hair and has traumatized its skin from excessive scratching. Marley was diagnosed and treated for mite infestation and secondary skin infection.
Mite infestations usually occur in animals that have a compromised immune system from either another preexisting condition and/or chronic stress. Skin infections resulting from a long duration of mite infestation can be potentially life threatening, especially in small patients such as a hamster.
This article has inspired me to encourage all pet owners to obtain as much knowledge and information about the care of your particular pet. Establishing a relationship with a veterinarian is an excellent source for acquiring proper health care for that animal. I recommend all pet owners to have their pets evaluated by a veterinarian with a minimum once a year and ideally twice a year exam.
If the pet is very young or very old it may need more frequent veterinary exams. If you obtain a new pet from the pet store, breeder or friend, please take that pet to a veterinarian for an initial wellness exam to assure the exact health of that animal at the time of acquisition. Even if a pet is “free to good home” it can come with underlying health problems that without early detection could possibly cost the life of that animal.
This may seem outrageous to even consider taking any pocket pet including hamsters to a veterinarian for an initial wellness exam; however, early recognition of unnoticed health problems oftentimes improves the quality of life and survivability for that animal.
Renee Golenz, DVM, Brentwood