Devices keep pets, people safe in car

Pete Keesling

They’re selling like hotcakes in New Jersey, and someday soon they’ll be doing the same in California. These are automobile pet-safety devices; ways to keep your pet (and you) safe while you drive down the road. New Jersey and several other states already have distracted driving laws that prohibit a loose animal in the car. That’s right. No more Fluffy on your lap as you go to the post office or grocery store. Hawaii, Connecticut and Arizona also prohibit this. Rhode Island and a few other states are close behind in their push to eliminate the dangers of distracted driving with a pet. As one official put it, “Not all driving distractions ring or beep. Some of them bark.”
There isn’t any specific ordinance in California as yet. But just wait. I’ll bet we see one sometime soon. If so, you’ll have to comply or you’ll be pulled over and cited (and end up in the proverbial doghouse).
Manufacturers are amping up production of these safety devices to meet increased demand. There are several choices for the consumer, including a harness that attaches to a car seat, allowing your small dog or cat to look out the window. Otherwise a crate works well, as does a barrier that can be mounted behind the front seat, giving your canine or feline friend freedom in the back half of the car. And as much as I dislike all these regulations, I do believe this will make the roads a little safer for all of us.
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Cats are carnivores, right? Wait just a second. Let’s talk about some exceptions. Many of you have written to tell me about your kitty eating carrots, green beans or some of your sandwich bread. Well, I have a story to go right along with yours.
Fresh fruit is abundant this time of year. And we’ve found out that our semi-feral kitty-cat, Georgie, likes the apricots we’ve harvested. I was canning ’cots this week when she showed up at my feet with part of one in her mouth. And just last week, I found her munching on a cantaloupe rind I had discarded out on the mulch pile. She’d eaten over half of it! Guess I better get out and check my blackberries. This cat’s an omnivore!
And now for this week’s question about a summertime problem for those of you with a swimming pool.
Our Labrador cross, Amos, likes to swim in our pool. He jumps in even in the cold weather, but in the summer, he thinks the pool is his very own. I know he drinks some of the pool water, too. Is the chlorine in our pool safe for him? Do we need to keep him out of the pool?
In its concentrated form (before it’s added to the pool water), chlorine is dangerous and can cause serious damage to the skin and eyes. Concentrated chlorine can also irritate the stomach if it’s swallowed. So keep your pool chlorine tablets or liquid in a locked cabinet, inaccessible to pets and children. And if any of this chemical spills onto the pool deck, be sure to wash it off right away, so no one burns their feet.
On the other hand, if your pool is chlorinated at a normal level, the concentration in the water isn’t high enough to be dangerous to Amos, even if he swallows small amounts. Still, we don’t want to encourage any dog or cat to drink pool water. So keep a large bowl of cold, fresh water nearby at all times so that he’s less tempted to use the pool as his watering hole when he gets thirsty.
Now once in a while, you might have to use a larger amount of chlorine to “shock” your pool. If so, I’d recommend that you keep Amos and the kids away until the chemicals dissipate to a more normal level. There’s no sense in taking any chances with their health.
And your letter made me think about dogs and the upcoming Olympic Games. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a canine version of these events? Swimming is one sport that comes to mind. How about the 100-yard dogpaddle race? I know I’d watch that one, and I wouldn’t be the only spectator!

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