Q Hi, Zoe-the-Roadshow-Retriever.

Kathleen Owen

Los Altos Hills

A Kathleen is one of many readers responding to a previous column about protecting pets while driving. Zoe is our four-footed carpool partner on many jaunts.

Q Our two dogs (and the one before them) have been wearing seat belts and riding in the back seat of our cars ever since they were puppies. I began seat belting our first dog, a very smart poodle named Cookie, when she jumped down on the floor and tried to stand against the gas pedal while I was pushing the brake pedal. That was 23 years ago.

Now our current poodles, Daisy and Rocky, wear seat belts whenever they are in a car; they act as if they are unsure when we do something as simple as back out of the garage.

Mr. & Mrs. Roadshow, I hope you have given Zoe a seat belt, too. It's always best to wear it when you are on an excursion with them. It's also best to bring treats along, too.

Kathleen Owen

A I have a confession to make. We have not buckled Zoe into our cars, but after fielding your comments and those of so many others, we'll head to a store to get a seat belt or another restraint system for her.

The AAA surveyed drivers and found that 80 percent say they have driven with their pets, but only 17 percent use any form of pet restraint system.

Q I am a registered veterinary technician and am also very concerned with pet safety in vehicles. I have seen firsthand what can happen to pets during a collision. They, like their human companions, can be thrown from the vehicle when not restrained. When I see a small dog on Mom's lap while she is driving, or the dog in the back of the truck-SUV, these images flash through my mind.

I have seen the poodle who has jumped out of the window to go after another dog with a broken pelvis and a lifetime of pain. I have seen the unrestrained pet thrown from the car in a collision with massive fatal injuries. Even when restrained in the back of the truck, I have seen the dog who jumped out to follow Dad and was literally hung by its leash. I don't want to be so graphic, but I believe it's important to deliver this message -- everyone riding in a motor vehicle must be in a safety restraint.

I am a proud Mom to J.J. and Rusty. They go everywhere with me, and never do they ride without a safety restraint. Little Rusty is a dachshund (don't tell him he's little, for gosh sakes) and he has trouble seeing out the window of my car. For this, I have a booster seat equipped with accommodations for the seat belt. He has a special harness that clips directly to his seat.

J.J. is a big dog, and he wears his seat belt on his harness and also connects to the existing seat belt.

There are different options available as far as styles. They are all padded in the front to minimize injury in a collision, and have different options in attachment to the cars' seat belts. And just like children, the safest place for them to ride is in the back seat.

Erika Riley

San Jose

A And ...

Q Another tip for traveling with dogs: Don't let them stick their head out the window. It's easy for rocks or other debris to kick up and injure them in the eye.

Michelle Vargas

San Jose

A So true.

Q All animals should be confined to an appropriate, hard-sided carrier when in the car. This is their BEST protection during a crash. Although there are harness restraint systems, pets can and do become entangled in them.

And what about the netting, screening, or tubing used to confine pets to the rear of a vehicle? What if the door or tailgate pops open in a crash? Your pet will end up on the roadway.

Think of a carrier as a car seat for your pet. You wouldn't put your child in without a car seat, right?

What? Your pet HATES the carrier? It's easy to get him to love it. Bring it into the house and feed him all his meals in it for the next week. Yup, he will soon ADORE the carrier!

Ann Begun

San Jose

A Ann also gets the final word today.

Q P.S. Why didn't this Republican vote for Mitt Romney? I could not get over the little stunt he pulled of having the family's Irish setter strapped in a pet carrier on top of the car. Talk about cruel, as well as a stupid and lame excuse for doing so! Next time, Mitt should be strapped to the luggage rack and see how he likes it.

Ann Begun

A I have no comment on this!

Follow Gary Richards at Twitter.com/mrroadshow, look for him at Facebook.com/mr.roadshow or contact him at mrroadshow@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5335.