DEAR ABBY: You printed a letter concerning the cruelty of abandoning pets. The following is a true story of what can happen:
My sister-in-law's family acquired a darling black-and-white fuzzy puppy that grew into a big, shaggy mess. I'm sorry to say the poor dog was taken into the country and dumped by the side of the road. Our little niece loved that dog and mourned for her "Bootsie" for some time.
Several months later, my sister-in-law overheard her daughter on the front porch asking excitedly, "Bootsie! Where have you been all this time?" Yes, it took a few months, but Bootsie found his way back home. I like to think my sister-in-law and her husband learned their lesson.
The kindest thing you can do for a pet you can no longer keep is to take it to your local humane society or animal shelter. In this case, Bootsie beat the odds -- many pets don't. Dumping an animal at the side of the road is almost always a sure and painful death. -- AUNT IN SONOMA, CALIF.
DEAR AUNT: Dumping animals is also against the law in the state of California. Please inform your sister-in-law. It could mean the difference between life and death for Bootsie, should the parents repeat their "solution" for getting rid of Bootsie. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Thank you for the letter from "Pet Lover in Tenino, Wash.," regarding the tragedy of abandoned pets. The senseless act of disposing of a pet by throwing it into the street creates many victims, including thousands of drivers who are involved in accidents because they strike an animal or swerve to avoid one, those who must remove the injured or dead bodies from busy highways and freeways, those who give up much of their personal lives to become "rescuers," and those who find these terrified and starving creatures in their yard or neighborhood and must take them to the shelter. In the meantime, the owner goes merrily on, without remorse or regret.
Your readers may be pleased to know about S.B. 237, which became law in California in September 2001 and provides for road signs to be placed at the state line on all major highways entering California, warning of the misdemeanor and penalty of up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for abandoning any animal -- including reptiles and exotic animals.
S.B. 237 also provides that this information will be printed in the California Department of Motor Vehicles "Handbook for Drivers" in five languages (English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese and Tagalog) and will be included as a question in at least 20 percent of California drivers' tests.
We hope that S.B. 237 will serve as model legislation for other states; and, as sponsor of the bill, I would be pleased to work with anyone who wants to pass similar legislation. -- PHYLLIS M. DAUGHTERY, DIRECTOR, ANIMAL ISSUES MOVEMENT, LOS ANGELES
DEAR PHYLLIS: My heartfelt congratulations for a job well done, one that's just beginning. Thank you very much for your letter and for offering to help animal activists nationwide to draft similar legislation in the other 49 states. Although it may be difficult to enforce, I hope it serves as a deterrent.
Readers interested in more information should write the Animal Issues Movement, 420 N. Bonnie Brae, Los Angeles, CA 90026, or write via e-mail to animalissu(at)aol.com.