Zero is just one of 857 stray animals that have arrived at the Frederick County Division of Animal Control and Pet Adoption Center since July 1, 2019. Of those, owners reclaimed 41 feline, 184 canine and 10 other species, totaling 235, which is good news for those animals. Within the 857 population, the intake condition of 125 animals fell into the sick and/or injured. Another 64 animals seemed to be healthy upon arrival, but had underlying, sometimes severe, medical issues upon further evaluation. Animal Control has a limited budget by which to provide medical care for the strays that come into our care to stabilize those that may have sustained injuries, or to alleviate pain and suffering, while we are trying to locate an owner.

Most owners are relieved when they find out their missing pet is at our facility. Most owners are grateful to find out their beloved pet is safe and in a clean environment. Most owners are appreciative that their escaped pet was provided critical veterinary care after being injured while being at-large and that they have received excellent care. In most cases, owners understand the fact that the services provided to keep their pet safe and, in some cases, alive, incur fees for which they are responsible. In some cases, they simply do not.

Even though a pet is not under the direct supervision of its owner, including being brought to the shelter as a stray, that pet doesn’t stop belonging to that owner. An animal being at-large does not remove the rights of the owner, nor does not absolve or eradicate the financial aspect of pet ownership. Moreover, while the argument could be made that the owner didn’t sanction medical treatment for their pet that demonstrated wanderlust, the owner was either unknown at the time decisions had to be made, or the animal’s life depended on an immediate decision to be made. Therefore, once the pet owner of a stray animal is located, that person is accountable for all fees incurred for maintaining that animal, including veterinary bills that will vary depending on circumstances.

Zero has been at the shelter since Dec. 11. He was found on Catoctin Furnace Road in Thurmont. Fortunately, he has only required routine veterinary care in the form of preventative vaccines and deworming. As with all of our adoptables, we are looking for an adopter that understands the commitment and responsibility of pet ownership.

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