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A boy and his dog

Justin Conant and Hazel Dog
Justin Conant and Hazel DogJonni Conant

Justin was 11-years old in this picture with Hazel Dog. The two were always together; Hazel was Justin’s dog. Is it any wonder, when Justin died at the hands of a drunken driver that Hazel grieved? Yes, pets mourn in ways family members may not recognize, perhaps with anxiety and distress. Meet Greyfriars Bobby, a Skye Terrier

Last August, Colorado Mothers against Drunk Driving held their fifth annual event in Denver at Sloan’s Lake. Their goal, building awareness and education. It was then Cedar first became aware of Hazel Dog and Justin. In 2010, Justin’s family and friends “walked like MADD.” Jonni, Justin's mother and Hazel's pet parent, spoke at the event.

“On May 15, 2006, I came home from work to find my 20-year-old son Justin in a hurry to go to a softball game with his coworkers from Champ's Grill (where he was a floor manager). Justin loved people and was always on the move. He was a business student at UCD, a Denver Public Safety Cadet, a rock climber, a soccer player, and an avid snow boarder. At 11:30PM that evening, the doorbell rang; the message they were delivering, Justin was killed in a drunken driving crash.” The family later discovered the driver had a prior arrest record for DWI and that night had an open bottle in the car.

December is National Drunk (and Drugged) Driving Prevention Month, a time to raise awareness about the consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. There are huge campaigns underway not to drink and drive. MADD reports, “Two million repeat drunk drivers are on the road at any given time?” Today, one in three people will be involved in an alcohol-related crash in their lifetime. How can we help? Take these steps to protect families from the danger of drunk driving:

Support the heroes who keep our roads safe. High-visibility law enforcement apprehend drunk drivers and discourage others from driving drunk.

Require convicted drunk drivers to blow before they go. Ignition interlock devices, or in-car breathalyzers, require all convicted drunk drivers to prove they are sober before the car will start.

Turn cars into the cure. “Today’s cars can parallel park themselves and come equipped with anti-theft sensors that can shut down the engine. Will tomorrow’s cars protect families from drunk driving, automatically determining whether or not the driver is above the legal limit of .08 and failing to operate if the driver is impaired. Imagine your friend or family member putting their hands on the steering wheel, and the car preventing them from driving while drunk. With your support, this cure is within reach.” (Quote from MADD campaign, Turning Cars into the Cure).

That late night in May 2006, Hazel Dog lost her best friend. Make sure you or someone you know does not cause a similar crash with like results.

Cedar Dog

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