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Traffic Talk: Passenger safety is important, even for pets

Don Gammill: I've heard more than one traffic officer and driving instructor say the animal should be secured so as to avoid it causing a distraction for the driver or a safety risk for itself.
By DON GAMMILL Published: July 16, 2012

Candice and Justine, a reader once wrote to me, loved to “ride about the countryside in my car, with the windows down and the air blowing through their long, red hair.”

Have you formed a mental picture yet? Think about it.

The writer went on to describe how the two sisters enjoyed being chauffeured to just about anywhere — in the city, as well as out in the country. They particularly liked to go to a park, or a lake, where they could run free.

Has that picture in your mind become clearer?

“They also like to ride in the back of my pickup truck,” he wrote.

“They liked to look at people and bark loudly to get attention.”

Now you know. The writer, George, said Candice and Justine were dogs — Irish setters, to be precise — and their travels generally were near their home in Australia.

George and his pets came to mind last week when I pulled up to a stoplight beside a large sport-utility vehicle. In the back seat, with their heads out the window, were an Irish setter and a jet black Labrador retriever. On the passenger-side front, a tiny head with two large eyes and ears standing alert peered over the door frame. It was a light-colored Chihuahua, just about big enough for a snack for its canine companions.

The driver appeared to be a small young lady. She was chattering away. When she turned her head slightly, I saw she was using a cellphone.

That's another column.

It's interesting how many and what kinds of pets you see in vehicles. I can't remember the last time I saw a cat in a car, but I have seen all sizes and colors of dogs. Just recently, I saw a tidbit on TV showing a pony in the rear seat of a small car. The commentator made some reference to added horsepower.

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