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Tips on Protecting  Cats and Dogs from Halloween Hazards

From People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)

Many youngsters dabble in devilish behavior this time of year, and often, animals are the targets of their pranks. But what's a "treat" for the kids can be a cruel trick for a dog or cat. Here are some tips to help keep your animals safe on this haunting holiday...

Most importantly, keep animals inside. For cats-especially black cats, who have unfairly been associated with "evil forces"-the days leading up to Halloween can be dark, indeed, as pranksters often go on the prowl for roaming kitties. In fact, many animal shelters refuse to adopt out black cats during the entire month of October. (As a worker at a Detroit shelter put it, "Nobody gets a black cat during the month of October if they ask for one, no matter how nice they are.")

Dogs should be kept indoors, too. Some kids think that letting dogs out of their yards on Halloween is a great trick, but it's a terrifying experience for dogs, who run from the noise and strangely dressed people and become lost. Dogs can also be injured when kids poke at them through fences or pelt them with eggs.

Put animals in a secure room during trick-or-treat time. Cats can quickly slip out the front door, and dogs sometimes try to bite unsuspecting kids, thinking that they're intruders. For everyone's safety, it's best to keep animals inside a bedroom or family room, away from all the commotion.

Don't take dogs on trick-or-treating trips, when most kids are more interested in collecting candy than watching the dog. Dogs can easily become frightened by the endless stream of laughing and screaming children and run off or bite someone.

Keep bowls of candy out of animals' reach, and make sure that kids know not to share their goodies with four-legged friends. All candy (and wrappers!) can cause animals to become sick, and chocolate, which contains an ingredient poisonous to dogs, can kill. A simple cat or dog treat will make animals' Halloween great without making them sick.

Keep curious noses and paws away from candles and party favors. Jack-o-lanterns lit up by candles are appropriately spooky, but they can burn animals (and children) or start fires if tipped over. The ink used in some brightly colored decorations, like orange streamers and paper pumpkins, is toxic to animals, and swallowed balloons or party favors can block an animal's digestive tract.

Remember that animals aren't party props. Fido may look cute wearing a witch's hat, but many animals become upset if forced into clothing. Costumes that are kept in place with tight rubber bands can cut off circulation. And while some party-planners think that it's frightful fun to have a black cat jump out of a closet at guests, the frightened kitty (and guest) probably won't agree.

By taking a few simple precautions, everyone-humans and animals alike-can have a safe and happy Halloween.

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