Saturday, December 5, 2009

Pet door hazards

Dog and cat doors are convenient for domesticated animals, but have occasionally given access to wild creatures: a raccoon, a deer, a snake, and even a bear! Another hazard is the entry of neighborhood dogs into the wrong home, with sometimes disastrous results, such as incidents in Gig Harbor, Washington, in August 2007, in which 2 pit bulls entered a woman's home at 9am, mauling her in her bed and killing her Jack Russell terrier; a November 2007 incursion of a Fort Collins, Colorado, pit bull that attacked a dog and threatened the family; a January 2009 home invasion by 2 pit bulls in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in which a family's pet labrador was killed; and the attack of a woman in Howie-in-the-Hills, Florida, in June 2009 by 1 of several dogs that entered through the doggie door.

Sometimes the intruders are not animals, but humans. Three such incidents happened just last month. In Mesa, Arizona, a man assaulted a teenage girl after gaining entry to her home through a pet door. A thief entered a Greece, New York, home via a dog door and stole 5 bottles of beer. And 4 people carrying guns entered a home in Wichita, Kansas, through the dog door but left when they realized they were in the wrong house.

And sometimes people use the pet door to get out instead of in. Since 1996, there have been 100 incidents in which children were endangered after exiting the house through a pet door. More than half of the cases involved fatalities - often drowning in the family's swimming pool - and the majority of incidents occurred in Arizona and Florida.

When I was discussing these issues with my Mom, I wondered aloud why electonic pet doors that sync with particular pets had not been invented. Well, of course they have: the PetSafe Electronic Smart Door is opened by the key on a dog's collar and the PetPorte Microchip Cat Flap is operated by the cat's implanted microchip. Regarding who invented the original pet door, the consensus seems to be Isaac Newton (1643-1747).

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