Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Annual Adoptathon Finds Homes for Orphaned Pets

DEAR ABBY: This year will be a great one for animal lovers. The North Shore Animal League America's annual Tour for Life, held in conjunction with the San Francisco SPCA, has already begun. On Thursday, March 27, three 35-foot mobile adoption units left New York on a cross-country journey of more than 16,000 miles. The league will work with animal groups in 21 cities to help find loving homes for dogs and cats in their care. The first stop will be April 2 in San Francisco.

But Tour for Life is only the beginning. It signals the league's worldwide Pet Adoptathon May 3 and 4. Since 1995, Pet Adoptathon has placed more than 125,000 pets, and this event has grown to include animal organizations on every continent.

This year, North Shore Animal League America is asking those who want to give a lifetime of love to an animal orphan to set aside time on Saturday and Sunday, May 3 and 4, to visit their local Pet Adoptathon shelter. It's the best place for potential adopters to find a special dog or cat who will give them unconditional love in return. -- JOHN STEVENSON, PRESIDENT, NORTH SHORE ANIMAL LEAGUE AMERICA

DEAR JOHN: I know your announcement will be greeted with enthusiasm by animal lovers everywhere.

Readers, for more information, please call the Pet Adoptathon toll-free hotline: 1-877-BE-MY-PAL (1-877-236-9725) or visit the Web site: You'll be glad you did.

DEAR ABBY: I have a problem with my mom and my sister. Every time they go shopping, they buy something for me. Sometimes it's just a soda, but other times it's clothes or accessories.

I'm kinda on the boyish side and I like wearing baggy clothes. But my mom and sister always buy me tight shirts, tight pants and lots of pink stuff.

How can I tell them to stop without hurting their feelings? -- NEEDS HELP IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR NEEDS HELP: Thank them for their thoughtfulness and explain that their taste is not your own, so you would appreciate being included in the buying trips. Tell them that pink is not your color and tight clothes are not your style, and you don't want them to waste money. (It's not insulting, it's actually considerate.)

DEAR ABBY: I have been with this guy, "Joe," for more than two years -- married just one. He is very nice at times, giving me flowers and back rubs. Other times, however, Joe calls me names, pushes me around, abuses our dog, keeps my money, spends all his time with friends, lies about stupid things and makes fun of my family.

In the past Joe has hit me, but I've always forgiven him. However, nowadays I just never feel happy. I don't know what to do, Abby. We've both been through counseling at church, but nothing has changed. My friends and family say I deserve better, but I love Joe with all my heart. Can the good outweigh the bad in our case? Or is it vice versa? -- NEEDING HELP IN BEDFORD, IND.

DEAR NEEDING HELP: In your case it's vice versa -- the bad outweighs the good. You are married to an abuser. I hope you end this disastrous union before any children are involved.

If Joe threatens you after you tell him you're unhappy, call the police or the Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233.

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 $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600