There are rescues and alternatives for pets you can no longer care for.
Even when they're five-foot long ball pythons.
That's the message Schoharie County Department of Health's Asante Shipps Hilts and Canine Cosmetician's reptile expert Bob Czyszczon want to get out after the discovery of two ball pythons in Richmondville.
The pythons, holed up in the treads of a paver on Brooker Hollow Road, didn't survive their release:
One was killed when road workers tried to extricate it; the other was accidently run over when it tried to flee on Franzen Road.
That bothers Mr. Czyszczon, who estimates by their size that the snakes were about 10 years old.
"These animals were condemned to death," he said. "They were someone's pets. They were obviously well cared for to have lived that long and they looked like they were well-fed. It's an unfortunate ending."
Even before their encounter with the paver, Mr. Czyszczon said, the pythons, docile snakes native to the tropics, were doomed; they would have never survived the winter.
Mr. Czyszczon said someone with pets they can no longer care for can contact a pet store like Canine Cosmetician, which can often help them find a new owner or even help them re-sell it.
Mr. Czyszczon also has a resource in Eric Bellows of PackEthic.com, a rescue facility that takes in more exotic animals like snakes.
"It was really an irresponsible act," he added. "If I could say one thing, it would be, 'Be responsible with the pets you chose to keep.' Maybe I should have it put on a t-shirt."
Ms. Hilts said the Health Department's first concern is safety.
She doesn't want people to be afraid of animals they may encounter in the wild, but she also doesn't want to see someone hurt.
"And most likely, with animals like these pythons, someone else would want it and would be able to provide it with a good home," she said.
Like Canine Cosmetician, Ms. Hilts said the Health Department has resources for re-homing exotic pets people can no longer care for and will work with them, she said.
"We're a good first step," she said. "Something like this doesn't need to happen."
Canine Cosmetician can be contacted at 234- 2090 and the Health Department at 295-8265.