The Dangers of Pet Doors

Filed under: Health & Safety: Babies

Make sure Fido is the only one using your pet door. Image:

Pet doors that let your animals come and go as they please please may be handy little inventions, but I've never had one. While I can appreciate the convenience of not having to repeatedly open and close the back door at the whim of a fickle cat, the benefits are canceled out by the possibility, however slim, that some non-domesticated creature may make use of that door as well.

Visions of rabid raccoons tearing through my house have prevented me from ever having a pet door, but there is an even better reason to think twice about installing one: Child safety. According to new research, more than 100 children have died or been seriously injured in the past ten years after squeezing through pet doors and ending up outside alone.

When Carole Rafone's 2-year-old son Matthew got out of the house via a pet door, he made his way straight to the backyard swimming pool where he drowned. She is now suing the manufacturer of PetSafe doors because she believes that they had an obligation to warn parents of this danger on their product packaging and instructions.
Regardless of who is to blame for Matthew's death, tragedies such as this are all too common. Statistics show that unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death for children under the age of fourteen and these injuries escalate during the summer months.

With summer break fast approaching, now is the time to think about preventing your child from becoming a statistic. Even if you think you've got it covered, it might be a good idea to check out some of these summer safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

- Pool safety
- Home Playground safety
- Bicycle safety including how to choose the right helmet and a myth and fact sheet.
- Lawn mower safety

For more tips and statistics on child safety, check out the Safe Kids U.S.A website as well as their 2007 Safe Kids U.S. Summer Safety Ranking Report.

And if you have small children and must have a pet door, consider an electronic one that opens only when activated by a remote device attached to your pet's collar.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.