Letters from the Issue of September 5, 2002

More puppy horror stories.

He was family to us, and he never had a chance: Fifteen years ago my boyfriend bought me a little "person" we named Feeters. He was to be the test all couples should endure before they decide to have children, because the little guy's health was so debilitated. We bought him from Docktor Pet Center in Westland Mall and were given a "free" office visit to a vet in Medley. Here's a hint: When they give you a free visit, the vet isn't going to say anything bad about the pet shop. They didn't tell us that Feeters's kennel cough was really distemper and that our little one would have to be put down in a few months as it got worse.

We got more attached to him with time, as with any family member. We took our little one as far away as Fort Pierce to an expert in the field who could identify why Feeters was shaking and barking uncontrollably. She told us the diagnosis was grave and that we shouldn't count on him surviving without being in pain 24 hours a day as it got worse, and it was going to. We chose to put him down to ease his pain.

A month later, when the grieving was bearable, we went back to the pet shop and wanted "justice." We contacted Dade County Consumer Services, which didn't do much other than give us lip service, so we got an attorney and that scared them because we had the money and this was personal. This was our "child."

People need to understand that these aren't just animals; they're members of your family, children who will be with you a long time, kids who give you love when you can't find the energy to walk up to your bedroom. They ask for attention to show off a new trick they learned or a cute stunt that is sure to piss you off, but you smile anyway.

Docktor Pet ended up giving us a new Westie and we took it to Bild Animal Hospital in Miami. No shameless plug here, but these doctors answer to the standard of "dedicated," and the place is more than 60 years old.

Scooter was with us until last year, when he passed away from natural causes after fourteen long and loving years. He was a fighter, a wonderful little bundle of energy, even at his age. He overcame cancer, thanks to Bild, and saw us through many losses -- asking only to be in your lap to show you some love. We will miss him and want to thank Mike Clary for this story on a topic that too few discuss too little.

Maria E. Vazquez-Tannenbaum


The Short and Tragic Life of Maggie Mae

We lost our precious one when she was just ten weeks old: I want to thank New Times for "Puppy Dog Tales." Unfortunately for my wife and me, the article was a week too late. We bought a puppy in Florida and it died when we got home to New Jersey. Now we are trying to get hold of the breeder, who will not return our calls. Here is my tale:

My wife and I wanted a Maltese. The cost was around $1500 and they go much higher. My uncle, who lives in Miami, owns three Malteses and suggested we get it down there because it's cheaper and there are lots of breeders.

Around July 15 my uncle called to say he had found a female Maltese, which is what we wanted. He found it at a pet shop on Sunset Drive. My uncle spoke to the owner, who told him she was the breeder of the dog and that she had its parents at home. So to us it sounded like a good deal. My uncle purchased the dog for us and took it home. We came to Florida August 2 for a vacation as well as to celebrate our second wedding anniversary. The dog (Maggie Mae) was our gift to each other. Maggie, who was ten weeks old, was a very playful and loving dog. If you had her on a table and you crouched down, she would nestle her head under your neck and crawl up on your shoulders like a little baby.

Monday, August 5 (our anniversary) came around and Maggie didn't look so good. She had this horrible cough and she wasn't eating. We took her to see the vet and he said she had kennel cough and coccidia. Coccidia is a parasite disease of the intestinal tract transferred from one animal to another by contact with feces from the infected individual. The doctor gave us an antibiotic and told us to make sure Maggie ate.

Tuesday she started to get bloody diarrhea, which is a result of the parasite. The doctor tested a stool sample and said the coccidia was still there, then told us to bring Maggie back on Saturday, which we did because we were leaving on Sunday. On Saturday Maggie still had the parasite and the bloody diarrhea and wasn't eating unless we force-fed her, which we'd been doing. Sunday night we flew home.

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