Dear Annie: My husband and I disagree on when to discard milk. Lately, I find that our milk is spoiled by the "sell by" date on the bottle. He believes that date is only good as long as the bottle remains unopen. He tells me that once you open the bottle, the milk will spoil sooner than the date on the bottle, so it should be discarded no later than the "sell by" date. What can you tell us about this? -- Tired of Tossing Milk in Connecticut

Dear Tired of Tossing Milk: You and your husband are not alone in this debate. Food researchers at Cornell have conducted studies on the shelf life of milk. It turns out there are a lot of factors. Generally, an unopen carton of milk will stay good for seven to 10 days past the "sell by" date, as long as it's not exposed to sunlight.

Once you open it, a carton of regular milk should stay good for five to seven days (possibly longer) if stored in a fridge at 40 F or less. Organic milk tends to take longer to spoil because of the way it's processed.

Ultimately, though, you can't go wrong by the old adage, "When in doubt, throw it out." Better safe than sick.

Leaving pets behind

Dear Annie: I want to comment on the topic of people leaving their pets behind. I live in a small town in western New York. Every year, I see cats, kittens and puppies that have just been tossed out on the side of the road to fend for themselves. The few that actually survive to make it to a house that won't turn them away is minuscule. I find it appalling that people think this is an OK thing to do. On one occasion, during a particularly bad winter, someone left a 5-month-old puppy tied to a telephone pole. The pup would have died had it not been for my other half. We raised the pup, and she was with us until it was her time, 14 years later. We've rescued many cats the same way.

We cannot handle every little kitten, cat, puppy or dog that people drop off in the country. Those of us in the community who can help do, but people need to understand this: Domestic pets are not able to survive on their own. Country roads are littered with the bodies of these pets.

I live in a small town -- with a population of fewer than 9,000 people -- yet our local veterinarians come together at least four times a year to offer discounted spaying, neutering and shots. Payment schedules can be worked out sometimes, and sometimes they'll even waive fees, depending on people's income.

If you want to own a pet, do yourself and the pet a huge favor: Get the little critter fixed. Please do not add to the unwanted pets in the world. -- Animal Lover, Small Town, USA

Dear Animal Lover: Hear! Hear! The ASPCA provides a database of low-cost spay and neuter clinics around the country on its website. Go to https://www.aspca.org and click on the "Pet Care" section.

Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com

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