Has costuming dogs gotten out of control?
I am not strictly opposed to dressing dogs up for Halloween.
But I wonder whether we’ve gone overboard. I question how much dogs enjoy it, and why and how, with the economy we have, Americans were willing and able to fork over an estimated $310 million to decorate their dogs for the holiday.
As noted in The Village Voice:
According to the National Retail Federation, Americans are expected to spend $6.68 billion on Halloween this year. Included in that sum is an astounding $310 million spent on costumes for people’s pets. Give Americans credit: We can suffer through a recession, gross economic turmoil, a foreclosure epidemic, and a tepid stock market, but we sure as shit aren’t skimping on the dog costumes.
What if, even just for one year, we declared a moratorium on doggie costumes and instead used that $310 million to make America, or the world, a better place for dogs — used it on dog parks, or spaying and neutering, or emergency veterinary treatment, or furthering adoptions, or more humane alternatives to the gas chambers many animal control departments are still using for euthanasia?
“Halloween is my favorite holiday because it makes me infinitely happy to see dogs in costumes,” Nikki Moustaki writes on her blog, MUTTerings. “It’s the time of year when passionate dog owners let their dogs’ inner ballerina, bumblebee, or princess shine.”
Nikki’s infinite happiness aside — and on top of the hazards some costumes can pose – there’s something to be said for letting a dog be a dog, even on Halloween, as opposed to ballerina or bumblebee.
Much as it makes us smile, chuckle and go awwwwww, Humans should not get their kicks at the expense of a dog’s suffering, or even discomfort.
I’m sure most responsible pet owners are careful, ensuring that what they’re dressing their dog in/as is a safe costume that won’t constrict their pet’s breathing, or contain little pieces that can be chewed off or choked on.
But the increasing trendiness of dog costuming ensures that there will be an increasing number of pet owners who aren’t thinking things through.
And physical hazards aside, there’s also the stress factor. Some dogs may relish the attention, and happily tolerate a costume, but many only get stressed out when festooned with an elaborate get-up.
Ironically, one of the biggest promoters of costuming dogs — after the companies that sell costumes, and the websites that thrive on presenting pictures of dogs as something other than dogs — are local shelters and humane societies.
Rare is the fundraising event that doesn’t feature a doggie costume contest, which is understandable, given they are such crowd pleasers.
I’m not a total party pooper. Putting a dog who doesn’t stress out about it in a simple and safe costume, for a short while — long enough to get your laughs, snap your pictures and post them on Facebook — is fine.
But leaving them in it for hours, leaving them in it unattended, leaving them in it when they are clearly upset about it? That’s where it all enters the arena of, maybe not animal cruelty, but animal disrespect.
The hazards of Halloween, for dogs, go beyond the costuming. It, like the 4th of July, is a prime times for dogs to get loose and run away. In Rochester, N.Y., police fatally shot a Rottweiler who was scaring trick-or-treaters.
And then there are the treats. Chocolate, as we all should know by now, can be toxic to dogs, and xylitol — an ingredient found in gum and other treats — can sicken and kill them as well.
Other than all that, Happy Halloween!
Posted by jwoestendiek November 2nd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 310 million, animal welfare, animals, chocolate, comfort, contests, costume, costumes, discomfort, dog, dog blogs, dogs, dressing, fad, halloween, happy halloween, hazards, humane societies, killed, letting dogs be dogs, moratorium, pets, police, popularity, rottweiler, run away, safety, shelters, shot, spending, stress, trending, trick or treat, xylitol