Dog cat pets waiting in window

Pets and kids; there is usually a beautiful and unbreakable bond between the two. Now that school has begun, we all have some pretty hectic schedules. Our young ones and our pets are separated for a large part of the day. Part of the excitement about coming home each day is the wagging tails, sloppy dog kisses, headbutt from cats and flying fur balls. Our pets learn our schedules and anticipate our arrivals. You’ve likely seen dogs who patiently wait for the school bus every day or cats who sit in the window watching for their young human to arrive home. Human/pet reunions are usually blissful and beautiful experiences for both human and pet.

Now imagine, if you will, how sad, worried, scared and confused your pet would be if an unthinkable tragedy occurred while you were away from the house. What if they never get to experience another blissful and beautiful reunion with you or your children? Yeah, sorry to be a spoilsport, but I want you to really think about this.

If you are like me, you would do almost anything for your pets. And, if that’s the case, ensure that you are wearing your seat belt and that all children are seated in correctly fitted and installed child safety seats or booster seats. I say “correctly fitted and installed” because it’s estimated that 90% of child safety seats are used incorrectly; and since car crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 19, wouldn’t it be a good idea to ensure you have your child’s safety seat installed correctly? Also, did you know that child safety seats have an expiration date?

Sept. 15-21 is National Child Passenger Safety Week. The Missoula County Buckle Up Montana Coalition, along with Safe Kids Missoula, is here to help. There is a fitting station event on Saturday, Sept. 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Missoula Rural Fire Station at 2521 South Ave. Please call 406-549-6172 to make an appointment.

Your pets want and need you to come home safely. Wearing your seat belt and ensuring your young ones are in a child safety seat will greatly reduce the chance of your pet wondering, “What happened?”

Some of my favorite tear-inducing videos to watch are when a dog gets surprised by a soldier who just got home after a yearlong deployment. It will melt your heart. Grab a tissue and watch a few videos; it’s beautiful to watch the pure love and happiness.

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Steve Schmidt is the Buckle Up Montana and DUI Task Force coordinator for the Missoula City-County Health Department.

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