Editor's Note: Hundreds of Ann Landers' loyal readers have requested that newspapers continue to publish her columns. These letters originally appeared in 1999.
Dear Ann Landers: I just read a story in The Macomb Daily, a paper here in Michigan, about a 72-year-old resident of Pittsburgh. This man owns a salon and barbershop supply business, which he bought in 1983. He recently received a notice saying he owes a property tax bill of $1,151 that goes back to 1911, before this man was even born. It seems the debt had gone undetected, even though the property had changed hands several times.
When the man expressed his astonishment, he was told that the passage of time and the change in ownership did not make any difference. He still has to pay the back real estate taxes. I find this outrageous. — Mary in Warren, Mich.
Dear Mary: It is good of you to take up this man's cause, but I'm afraid he is stuck. According to Dominick Gambino, administrative assistant to the Allegheny County controller, anyone who buys property is responsible for the outstanding tax liens. In this instance, however, the tax lien was so old, it did not show up on a standard title search when the man bought the property back in 1983.
The county sold its tax liens to a private company in 1997, which then discovered the old debt when it began cleaning up the county's records. You will be pleased to know that the beauty supply owner has title insurance that ought to cover it.
Dear Ann Landers: Last night, I was driving in the city and hit a cat. "Just some stray animal," most people would say. I stopped my car and checked the poor creature, but it wasn't breathing. There was no identification, but I couldn't get over the guilt of thinking some child might be looking for "Fluffy" or "Tiger."
When I was growing up, my two cats were hit by cars. I begged my mother not to let them out, but she insisted that cats needed "prowling" time. That is the most insane thing I have ever heard. A pet is part of your family. Would you let a child out to play alone? Pets don't need to be out running around. Cats can be litter-trained. Dogs should be walked on a leash or kept in a fenced yard.
If one thing comes from this letter, I hope it is that people will take better care of their pets and give them the chance to grow old with the rest of the family. To the cat I hit last night: I'm sorry we couldn't have met under better circumstances. — E.M. in Lonoke, Ark.
Dear E.M.: The accident was not your fault, so please stop tormenting yourself. I have said several times that pet owners should NEVER let their pets roam free. Anyone who takes on the responsibility of caring for an animal should be willing to keep it safe from harm. Your letter may save a few of those nine lives.
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ANN LANDERS (R)