Pets are an integral part of many people's lives.
They bring joy, add character to households, and can be important in the development of children, teaching them responsibility and compassion.
Pets are also dependent on the humans that look after them. They need food, water, shelter, companionship and, of course, vet care.
I would like to think that most people are kind to their pets. But there are exceptions, and one features on A4 today.
The story of Katikati woman Virginia Smith is a shocking example of someone who is a bad pet owner.
It's one of those stories that makes me shake my head in disbelief.
Smith was sentenced to 75 hours' community work and banned from owning any domestic animal for five years after failing to get veterinary treatment for her critically ill cat.
The SPCA had to seize the cat, called Possum, after a concerned person saw the poor animal hobbling around with a huge leg sore for 12 days.
It turned out the cat had a broken leg and hip, and had to be put down.
Smith, according to her lawyer, couldn't afford to get the cat treated and tried to treat it herself. She told this paper she didn't realise the cat was so sick.
I have seen the close-up photos of the injury and I cannot understand how she would think this.
I agree with Rachael Adams, prosecuting lawyer for Tauranga SPCA, who describes the photos as "distressing, even disgusting".
Smith's case is the latest in a long list of shameful acts by pet owners in this city.
Tauranga has a poor record when it comes to treatment of animals, and was named by the SPCA as one of the worst regions for animal cruelty.
Five local cases last year featured among its list of the worst cases in the country. Surely we can do better than that.
It's important people think carefully before buying or accepting an animal.
If people don't want or can't afford to look after their pets, they should do the adult, human thing and find someone who can or turn them over to a proper animal welfare organisation.
In the case of Smith, she could have handed the cat over to the SPCA but instead chose to ignore the organisation.
Good on the SPCA for prosecuting. Her sentence is only just satisfactory. I hope she never owns a pet again.