Examining a very real Halloween danger for children

It may seem hard to believe, but Halloween is now less than a week away. This means that come Monday night, streets and sidewalks across North Carolina will be filled with costumed children of all ages looking to collect as much candy as possible.

While there is no disputing the fun of Halloween for children, it can’t be overlooked that October 31 does present some potential dangers of which parents should be aware. For example, there is always the danger of inattentive or speeding motorists, and, of course, there is always the danger of a dog attack.

While it may be tempting for adults to dismiss this latter danger, experts indicate that it is actually one of the most stressful of the year for dogs given the sheer number of people walking about, making loud noises outside, ringing doorbells and masking their appearance. This stress, they warn, can become so great that it causes even the friendliest dogs to react differently, hiding, growling or even biting.

In light of this reality, dog owners are generally advised to consider taking the following steps on the one night of the year when ghosts and goblins are most likely to materialize on their doorstep in search of candy:

  • Keep dogs indoors for the night, and secure them in either a closed room or crate well away from the front door or other activities
  • Once the dog is properly secured, turn on the radio or television in the room in which they are located to serve as a sort of calming background noise
  • Supervise the dog if it will be around costumed children at any time leading up to Halloween, even those in its own family

As for what children and adults alike can do to protect themselves from dog bites, experts offer the following advice:

  • Avoid going to the front doors of homes where a dog can be heard barking behind the door or anywhere else on the premises
  • Should a dog emerge once the front door opens, candy-seeking children should wait for the owner to secure the dog, wait for them to provide the treat and wait until the front door is closed before turning to leave
  • Avoid any loose dogs while out walking, even those who are familiar, as they might be confused by the costume
  • Should a dog be encountered while out walking, stand still with hands folded in front and watching feet until it moves on

In the unfortunate event a dog attack does occur — causing deep puncture wounds, necessitating surgery, and resulting in lasting physical and psychological damage –victims should be aware that they are not without options.

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