Pet Doors: Are They Safe?Published May 29, 2009
I have never given much thought to access doors for pets, since our two cats are never purrmitted outside without supervision. This being said, while surfing the Internet for items of interest, I ran across some interesting and vital information about safety issues concerning what many people consider a real convenience for pets that have access to the great outdoors whenever they wish. However, Sean Kane, president of Safety Research & Strategies, has been researching this issue nationally. According to Mr. Kane, in the past 10 years more than 100 children have drowned or nearly drowned and have otherwise been injured when they climbed through pet doors to get outside. Mr. Kane learned of these incidents through public health specialists and news items, The Consumer Product Safety Commission and sadly, though the offices of coroners and medical examiners. Mr. Kane stated, "But the total number to date underestimates the true scope of the problem because most accidental drownings are classified only by cause of death or injury and do not identify how the child accessed the water. Child-injury researchers are well aware of the link between pet access doors and child injury and death, but many parents and caregivers do not appreciate the risk associated with use of a pet door, and how young children can drown, become lost, wander into streets, or otherwise become seriously injured or killed after exiting a home through a pet door." Kane suspects that people think that since the common size of these pet doors generally approximate a standard sheet of paper or even smaller, that they are totally safe to install in their homes. They feel that their children are too large to be able to crawl through pet doors. However, the weight of an average three year old boy weighs about 38 pounds and can very easily fit through the opening. After all, some of our medium sized dogs and cats use the doors without any problem at all. Of course since the safety of our children is a priority, there are alternatives to these rather flimsy flap-style portals. There are doors with locking mechanisms and several that are operated by a dog's radio collar. Of course, if you happen to have a pool in your backyard, personally opening the door to let your dog out is the safest method to prevent tragic accidents. Since many parents are not aware of the danger that most pet doors can present, one parent set up a web site to spread the word. You can visit this site at http://www.PetAccessDangers.org/ She is hoping that this website will reach enough people that pet door companies will consider making changes in design to make them safe. Watch the ABC Good Morning America feature about the dangers of pet doors by visiting: http://abcnews.go.com/video/playerIndex?id=7564779 Would you install a pet access door in your home? Leave a comment and share your opinions.