A Florida Keys man who discovered a message in a bottle Thursday promising money to the recipient wants the cash donated to a local animal shelter.
Veterinarian Douglas Mader was walking his dogs down the beach on Big Pine Key when he found the unusual message, which had traveled south 161 miles.
"I opened it up and the dogs and I read it and got a kick out of it," he said.
The message said it was written by a Fort Lauderdale man, who said he would pay one cent for every mile the bottle had traveled, leaving his return email address and phone number. It also had a photo of a baby printed on it.
"As I finish bottles of rum, I toss them into the Atlantic Ocean somewhere in South Florida. I will pay a penny ($.01) per mile that this bottle has traveled to you," the typed message read.
But instead of getting paid, Mader said he would rather have the money donated to Safe Harbor Animal Rescue of the Florida Keys.
"These shelters need help. Any penny they can get makes a big difference," Mader said.
He added that he emailed the sender the same morning.
"If you feel generous, of course, we would welcome any donation to our wonderful shelter!" read his email reply.
Although it's not the first message in a bottle that he has found, Mader said it's the first he has found with a return address in his 15 years of living in the Keys. The last message he remembers finding in a bottle was from a child in Oregon dated five or six years before he found it.
Mader, who adopted his Whippet named Aragon and his Pit Bull mix named Atigun, said it made sense to have the money donated to the animal shelter. He said the donation, although small, could save at least one puppy or kitten by paying for one vaccination.
The Distemper-Parvo vaccine, which prevents a serious disease of the nervous system in dogs, costs about $1.60, Mader said.
"For the sake of $1.60, it's 100 percent preventable," he said.
Mader said he has yet to hear back from the sender and a phone call and e-mail from NBC6.com were not immediately returned.
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