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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: It's happening again! What is the matter with people? Year after year, pet owners leave their poor animals in hot cars. It is so hard for me to understand how they could be so lacking in common sense.

I'm enclosing a clipping from the Albany, N.Y., Times Union describing our first reported case. It was an 80-degree day and the poor dog was left in a closed car for 70 minutes!

I live near a tourist area, and every summer people visit the outlet malls and leave their dogs in the car with a window only slightly cracked. This infuriates me!

Please, Abby, tell your many readers to either leave their pets at home, or have one person remain in the car with the pet while the others shop. A simple rule of thumb is: If you can't sit in your car with the windows cracked for 5, 10 or 15 minutes because you're too hot, then so is your dog, who's wearing a fur coat. And remember, a day can be breezy and feel cool, but the sun is still very hot and can heat up a car in a matter of minutes.

Thanks, Abby, for helping to take care of these defenseless animals. -- ALBANY, N.Y., ANIMAL LOVER

DEAR ANIMAL LOVER: Thank you for a letter that may save some thoughtless pet owner a good deal of grief.

The Animal Protection Institute, P.O. Box 22505, Sacramento, Calif. 95822, sells cards that can be placed under the windshield wipers on the cars of thoughtless pet owners.

The printed message reads: "Your dog may be dying! We understand you meant to be kind by taking your dog with you today, but you could be risking your pet's life.

"On a hot summer day, the inside of a car heats up very quickly. On an average 85-degree day, for example, the temperature inside your car -- with the window slightly opened -- will reach 102 degrees in 10 minutes. In 30 minutes it will go up to 120 degrees. On warmer days, it will go even higher.

"A dog's normal body temperature is 101.5 to 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit. A dog can withstand a body temperature of 107 to 108 degrees Fahrenheit for only a very short time before suffering irreparable brain damage -- or even death. The closed car interferes with the dog's normal cooling process, that is, evaporation through panting.

"If your dog is overcome by heat exhaustion, you can give immediate first aid by immersing him or her in cold water until the body temperature is lowered."

These cards sell for only $3 per 100. Allow 6 to 8 weeks for delivery.

DEAR ABBY: We received this letter the night before our daughter's wedding. It was Linda's gift to us. If you have room in your column, I am sure it will touch many people's hearts, as it did ours.

"Dearest Parents: On our wedding day, as my husband and I take our vows and make promises to each other, I make this promise to you as well. Even as I take him into my heart and life, I promise to keep you, parents dear, in my heart and life always.

"On this day, know that our love is not divided; it is multiplied, and you are embraced with the full measure of love and promises that he and I share here today.

"For I know that I am able to love and cherish him so much because you loved and cherished me first." -- BLOSSOM R. HOLLANDER, LOS ANGELES

DEAR BLOSSOM: What a beautiful tribute to you and your husband as parents, and to your daughter as well. Congratulations -- you raised a winner.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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