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The Pet
Episode 15
Writer: Ken Kolb
Director: Joseph H. Lewis
Original Air Date 01/06/1959


Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain

Johnny Crawford as Mark McCain

Guest Cast
Edgar Buchanan as Doc Burrage
Edgar Buchanan as Doc Burrage

Edgar Buchanan was an American character actor who appeared in over 100 films and dozens of television series, including several long-lived sitcoms.  In a career spanning four decades, he played grizzled, gravelly-voiced characters and was frequently cast in westerns.  His most well-known and lovable character was Uncle Joe Carson, who appeared in all 222 episodes of "Petticoat Junction," (1963-1970), 17 episodes of "Green Acres" (1965-1969), and, in 1968, three episodes of "The Beverly Hillbillies" (1962-1971).  In his last role, the 1974 film "Benji," he co-starred with the dog (Higgins) from his stint on "Petticoat Junction."  Buchanan made six appearances in THE RIFLEMAN, portraying Grandpa Fogerty in "The Long Goodbye" (Episode 119) and the recurring character of Doc Burrage in five, including "The Pet" (episode 15), "The Second Witness" (episode 23), "The Trade" (episode 24), "The Deadly Wait" (episode 26), and "The Angry Man" (episode 31).

Penelope Sue Carver as the Little Girl (who died from anthrax)

Penelope Sue Carver guest-starred in one episode of THE RIFLEMAN, portraying the little girl who dies from Anthrax in "The Pet" (episode 15).

Bill Erwin as Joe Flecker

Bill Erwin, born William Lindsey Erwin, was a prolific American film and television actor.  He appeared in more than 200 movies and television shows over the course of his 65-year career.  He was a remarkably versatile actor, guest-starring in shows in virtually all of the major genres, including the classic family comedies "I Love Lucy" (1951–1957), "Leave It to Beaver" (1957–1963), and "The Andy Griffith Show" (1960–1968), in addition to the crime dramas "Richard Diamond: Private Detective" (1957–1960), starring David Janssen, "The Untouchables" (1959–1963), starring Robert Stack and "Perry Mason" (1957–1966), starring Raymond Burr as an ace attorney.  Erwin also appeared in the nautical action-adventure series "Sea Hunt" (1958–1961), starring Lloyd Bridges as an intrepid scuba diver, Rod Serling's iconic anthology series, "The Twilight Zone" (1959–1964), the adventure series starring "The Fugitive" (1963–1967), David Janssen as a doctor wrongfully convicted of murder, and also more recent sitcoms, including "Seinfeld" (1990–1998), "The Drew Carey Show" (1995–2004), and "The King Of Queens" (1998–2007).

Erwin made one appearance in THE RIFLEMAN, portraying Joe Flecker in "The Pet" (episode 15).  In addition to THE RIFLEMAN, Erwin guest-starred in numerous other westerns, including "Wagon Train" (1957–1965), starring Ward Bond and later John McIntire as the wagon master, "Bat Masterson" (1958–1961), starring Gene Barry, "Cheyenne" (1955–1963), "Have Gun – Will Travel" (1957–1963), starring Richard Boone, "Rawhide" (1959–1966), starring Clint Eastwood, "Maverick" (1957–1962), starring James Garner, "The Virginian" (1962–1971), starring James Drury, and "Gunsmoke" (1955–1975), starring James Arness.

Hal Jon Norman as Father

Hal Jon Norman was an American actor who primarily appeared in TV westerns.  He garnered more than 20 acting credits in a career spanning roughly 30 years.  He guest-starred in "Wagon Train" (1957–1965), "The Restless Gun" (1957–1959), starring John Payne, "Tales of Wells Fargo" (1957–1962), "The Tall Man" (1960–1962), "Bonanza" (1959–1973), "Rawhide" (1959–1966), starring Clint Eastwood, "The Wild Wild West" (1965–1969) and "Daniel Boone" (1964–1970).  Norman made two guest appearances in THE RIFLEMAN, portraying the father in "The Pet" (episode 15) and Frost in "Seven" (episode 79).

Robert J. Wilke as Haskins

Robert J. Wilke was a prolific American film and television actor.  He appeared in nearly 300 movies and television shows during a career spanning 35 years, sometimes working as a stuntman.  A familiar face in westerns, Wilke was typecast as a heavy.  He portrayed Jim Pierce in the western "High Noon" (1952), starring Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly and Lloyd Bridges.  Following this role, Wilke began garnering roles in more prominent movies and television shows.  He had a recurring role as Capt. Mendoza in the Disney adventure series "Zorro" (1957–1959).

Wilke had many film roles, including Madden in the western "The Far Country" (1954), starring James Stewart; the First Mate of the Nautilus in the sci-fi adventure "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" (1954), starring Kirk Douglas, James Mason, Paul Lukas and Peter Lorre; the guard captain in the film adaptation of Howard Fast's "Spartacus" (1960), starring Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier and Jean Simmons; Wallace in the John Sturges epic western "The Magnificent Seven" (1960), starring Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Eli Wallach, Robert Vaughn, Brad Dexter and James Coburn.  He portrayed the farm foreman in the romantic tragedy "Days of Heaven" (1978), starring Richard Grace, Brooke Adams and Sam Shepard; and in his final role, he played General Barnicke in the war comedy "Stripes" (1981), starring Bill Murray.

Wilke guest-starred in many popular television shows of the 1950s through the 70s, including the superhero series "Adventures of Superman" (1952–1958), the family drama "Lassie" (1954–1974), the crime drama "The Untouchables" (1959–1963), the private detective series "77 Sunset Strip" (1958–1964), the legal drama "Perry Mason" (1957–1966), the family comedy "My Three Sons" (1960–1972), the adventure drama "The Fugitive" (1963–1967), the western action adventure "The Wild Wild West" (1965–1969) and the western action adventure "Kung Fu" (1972–1975).

Wilke made two appearances in THE RIFLEMAN, portraying Florry Sheldon in "The Marshal" (episode 4) and Haskins in "The Pet" (episode 15).  He guest-starred in many other westerns, including "The Lone Ranger" (1949–1957), starring Clayton Moore; The Gene Autry Show (1950–1956), Cheyenne (1955–1963), starring Clint Walker, "The Deputy" (1959–1961), starring Henry Fonda; "Wanted: Dead or Alive" (1958–1961), starring Steve McQueen; "Rawhide" (1959–1966), starring Clint Eastwood; "Wagon Train" (1957–1965), starring John McIntyre and Ward Bond; "Death Valley Days" (1952–1975), hosted by Robert Taylor; "Gunsmoke" (1955–1975), starring James Arness; and "Bonanza" (1959–1973), starring Lorne Greene, Michael Landon, Dan Blocker and Pernell Roberts.  His actor friend Claude Akins, who also guest-starred in THE RIFLEMAN (episodes 8, 74 and 81), quipped that Wilke, who was a passionate golfer, earned more money playing golf than from acting.

Lucas and Mark find themselves exposed to anthrax after they adopt a stray horse whose owner has been killed in a gunfight.  The killer comes gunning for Lucas under the mistaken impression that the man he killed had imparted some vital information to Lucas.  He is bitten by the stray horse and despite the odds of an awful death from anthrax, he does not forget his murderous intent.  Mark is also frightened, because he too has been bitten and is infected by the deadly disease.