DEAR ABBY: We often read about animals and children suffocating in cars and in discarded refrigerators, so it's time to tell my story:
When my youngest son was 3, I was a single mom with a nanny/housekeeper. The nanny knew that we would be grocery shopping on Saturday, so on Friday, she defrosted the refrigerator and removed all the shelves.Saturday morning, we were chatting about the week's events and making plans for the day while the children were watching a movie. The 3-year-old got up to get a toy, and after five minutes or so, I asked, "Where's Jesse?" I went upstairs: no Jesse. I called out to him while Nanny searched downstairs. We heard Jesse crying in a faraway voice that was hard to locate.
"Where are you! Jesse?" "I fell in." We heard his faraway voice, but we couldn't locate the origin of it! Five more minutes elapsed. I called 911.
The firemen and police arrived, searched the fireplace, heater vents, attic and everywhere a toddler might climb or fall. Finally, as I stood exasperated in the kitchen, a firefighter opened the refrigerator, and out fell Jesse, face red from lack of oxygen, cold, and blinded by the sudden light! We had not even heard him come downstairs or open the refrigerator!
Abby, please ask parents to get safety locks for their refrigerators, and to never remove shelves to clean them without replacing them immediately. - CLOSE CALL IN DENVER
DEAR CLOSE CALL: Over the years, I have had many letters in my column warning adults about the dangers of refrigerators - particularly those that are stored in garages and basements. (They are literally death traps for children who play hide-and-seek.) I advise removing the doors of ice chests, refrigerators or cabinets into which children can crawl. Yet, every year I see a small news item in the newspaper reporting that some child has suffocated in an abandoned refrigerator.
DEAR ABBY: Another letter to pet owners: Vets, dog breeders and many other experts have said this for years, and since owners pay little heed to them, perhaps this will be more convincing coming from man's best friend.
I am a family dog - a pet who lives in a yard bordered by a link fence. I had a companion, a beautiful female Doberman who lived in the yard next to mine. Her owner often said she was hard to train, so she wore a choke chain day and night. My owner, who has owned several dogs, warned her owner that it was hazardous to keep the chain on her when she was off the lead, particularly since she had a penchant for jumping the fence. Naturally the Doberman's owner thought he knew everything and declined to remove the chain. One day when both humans were at work, the Doberman tried to jump the fence and the chain got snagged. My owner was the first one to find the body hanging on my side of the fence.
Abby, please print this letter, as it will reach millions of dog owners and could save the lives of many pets. Always remove the choke chain when your dog is off the lead! - THE WONDERDOG NEXT DOOR