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Celebrate Memorial Day keeping your dog or cat safe from cars

Summer starts this Memorial Day weekend, and while sunshine makes drivers want to take to the road, it's also one of the most unsafe times of the year for the dogs and cats who live with us.

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That said, the Humane Society of the United States is reminding us to start thinking about how the warm weather will affect our pets as we travel by car, truck and van to run errands and reach fun destinations.

When taking a drive or leaving a pet in a car unattended, there are extra precautions that people can take to keep pets like my dog Shanny (pictured) safe. Here's some advice from the society that's as easy as 1-2-3:

1. Never leave a pet unattended in the car on a warm or sunny day. Cars quickly heat up to a dangerous temperature, even with the window slightly open.

2. Keep cats indoors to keep them safe. Cars can pose risks to cats' safety because they tend to dart into the street, sometimes in front of moving vehicles. By providing playtime, cat trees and other enrichment, a cat will be happy and content to stay indoors.

3. When driving with pets, be sure to keep them properly restrained and inside the vehicle. Special seatbelts and secured carriers can protect pets during accidents and prevent them from distracting drivers. The back of a pick-up truck is never a safe place for a pet to ride. (The kids shouldn't ride there, either.)

The Travel Industry Association of America estimates 29.1 million Americans say they have traveled with a pet in the past three years, mostly with dogs.

Author Dolores Hestad understands how important it is to take note of your pet’s exploits as you travel in the car to visit relatives and see friends. Inspired by her black Shih-Tzu, Shadow, Hestad has written "This is my Doggie Life," a memory book with space in it for pet owners to write down or add their own memories. Here's a reference to check out the book for yourself.

The Humane Society, which gave us those tips earlier in this article, is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans. For more than a half-century, the society has fought for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. For information, go to

You can reach's Hawke Fracassa at [email protected].

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