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Puppy Mills Should Be Stopped

Today’s SOUND OFF is about puppy mills:

“Dear Heloise: I recently read about puppy mills that are flourishing in my state and across the nation, and I’m angry about the lackadaisical approach this country is taking to shut down and punish the people who operate these overcrowded, cruel places. I keep hearing that there is a lack of funds to go after the criminals who overbreed and inbreed female dogs. There should be stiffer fines, lengthy prison terms and more police officers who can stop this barbaric practice.” — Cara in Florida

Cara, puppy mills are a serious problem. It is the responsibility of all of us to report the owners of puppy mills and to never purchase a puppy from any of them. Most puppies from puppy mills are inbred and come from mothers that are overbred, often sick and abused. — Heloise

FAST FACTS

Dear Readers: Here are some new uses for old tires:

* Paint a pretty color and fill with dirt to use as a planter.

* Start a compost bin by stacking three or four tires on top of each other. — Heloise

READER RESPONSE

Dear Readers: We had a tremendous response to our Sound Off about a sister-in-law who always asked what people paid for various items. The vast majority said it was rude. Here are some responses:

Patrizia: “When we moved to Singapore, this question was repeatedly asked: ‘How much did you pay for that?’ We learned that it was a holdover from the Chinese culture that was a way of showing appreciation for whatever it was. Or the love of a deal.”

Janet S.: “The answer for the nosy sister-in-law who keeps asking how much you paid for something would be, ‘Oh $5 or $10 million. I can never keep track of large numbers like that.’ Hopefully, the absurdity of the answer will get the point across that it’s none of her business.”

Tracy A.: “My sister-in-law used to ask rude questions. I began saying, ‘OMG, Mary, who does that? Who asks such an inappropriate question? No one, that’s who!”

GARNISH SOCIAL SECURITY?

Dear Heloise: Can my Social Security checks be garnished? — Ralph D., Red Wood Falls, Minnesota

Ralph, the federal government can and will garnish Social Security:

* To collect child support payments that are unpaid or for unpaid alimony.

* To pay delinquent federal income taxes.

* To pay delinquent federal student loans.

If you are behind on taxes or student loans, your best option is to make payment arrangements with your creditors. However, commercial debts, such as auto loans, credit cards and mortgages, cannot garnish Social Security benefits. No one other than the federal government is allowed to garnish Social Security payments, and after the IRS sends you a final notice of its attempt to levy, you have 30 days to negotiate payment terms before your Social Security benefits are docked.

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