DEAR ABBY: Now that summer is here, please remind your readers never to leave their dogs or other pets in their cars -- even for "just a minute." I understand that owners may think they will be gone only a brief period and the animal will be OK, but it takes only three minutes for the inside of a car to become much hotter than it is outside. In such heat, the pet's body can shut down, and it will die.
Animals do not have a voice to ask owners to take good care of them, so I'm asking. All animals should be loved and protected. I urge owners to have as much compassion for their family pets as they do for their own children. -- MRS. RANDI ARONSON, HOWELL, N.J.
DEAR RANDI: It's true that the temperature inside an automobile can build up quickly in these summer months -- and the "just a minute" can result in a tragedy.
While I'm on the subject of pets and climate, outdoor pet houses should be placed in the shade, and plenty of cool, fresh water should be provided in bowls that cannot tip over. Hint: Metal bowls cause the water to heat quite rapidly; conversely, in the winter, they chill the water to the point that it may freeze, making it inaccessible to the animal.
Thousands of readers responded to the letter in my column about pets being listed in obituaries, and volunteered that their pets are special friends or a part of the family.
Pet owners, please remember that your pets need proper care and love. Do not tie your pet in the yard and neglect it. Should you see that someone's pet is being subjected to this kind of neglect, notify the proper authorities.
A final thought: Please neuter or spay your cats and dogs. Neutered animals make better pets, and this act of love will alleviate the tragedy of thousands of unwanted animals being euthanized each year. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: In reference to the letter about making provisions for your pet's future in case of your illness or death, you should know that The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) offers a free brochure, "Planning for Your Pet's Future Without You." It includes information on long-term and permanent care for your pet, selection of a permanent caregiver, sample language for pet care instructions in your will, and advice on seeking legal assistance.
More than 64 million cats and 62 million dogs live in our households. They are obviously important members of the American family. No one expects to fall ill or become disabled and unable to care for our beloved pets. I urge pet owners to take the time now to plan for their pet's future in case of emergency.
For a copy of our free brochure, write: The Humane Society of the United States, Code PF2000, 2100 L St. NW, Washington, DC 20037. Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope. You can also download the information from our Web site: www.hsus.org. -- NANCY PETERSON, HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES
DEAR NANCY: If the number of letters I receive from readers who love their pets is any indication, get ready for a huge response to your generous offer. Thank you for this important information.