Saturday was a very hot day, like most of the days we've been having lately. My daughter and I went to a local restaurant for lunch.

When we came out, Lisa saw it next to us. An older dog was in the front seat of a pick-up truck while its master was in the restaurant eating or possibly having coffee.

The poor dog was panting and walking in circles on the seat. It didn't even notice us. For the pet, there was no escape. The windows were open about an inch, but it's likely that was any comfort.

We found Matt Arner, a Lehighton police officer, and told him of the situation. "The temperature's about 90 so it must be 120, 130 in that truck," Arner said disgustingly, indicating he was a little ticked-off at the situation.

He came to the scene, but by now the owner was there.

The dog appeared to be okay, but it was obviously in distress when we saw it.

Come on, pet owners! Use common sense. Even 15 minutes is too long to let a pet along in a vehicle in this heat.

Not only is it wrong as a pet owner to treat an animal this way, it is illegal. It can warrant a citation for animal cruelty.

Just like in the dead of winter, when temperatures get bitter cold, so should you remember your pets in the summer when the conditions are to the opposite extreme.

Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so make sure your pet has plenty of fresh water. If it is an outdoors pet, be especially vigilant about changing the water frequently.

Hot surfaces, especially macadam, can burn the pads on a dogs paws. Don't take your dog for a walk in the middle of the afternoon when temperatures are the hottest. Do it in the early morning before the day heats up or at night when cooling begins.

Do not leave pets unsupervised around a pool-not all dogs are good swimmers. Introduce your pets to water gradually and make sure they wear flotation devices when on boats. Rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from his fur, and try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals that could cause stomach upset.

The ASPCA says feel free to trim longer hair on your dog, but never shave your dog: The layers of dogs' coats protect them from overheating and sunburn.

Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat.

And be sure that any sunscreen or insect repellent product you use on your pets is labeled specifically for use on animals.

Be kind to your pets.

Keep them in mind during this summer heat wave. Bring them indoors when the temperature become excessive outside.

We're sure the individual at the diner who let the dog inside the pickup truck didn't think he was doing anything wrong. If he only could have stood and watched the poor dog inside, he would have seen that the dog was clearly uncomfortable and possibly close to a heat stroke.

By RON GOWER

rgower@tnonline.com