Pets in Costumes: Cute or Cruel?
Americans will spend $330 million on costumes for their pets this year. That’s $70 million more than last year’s expenditure and a 65 percent increase from what they spent in 2010. As many as 22 million pets could be subjected to wearing a Halloween outfit.
It’s estimated that 15 percent of Americans will buy costumes for their pets and will spend barely three times more on costumes for children than they will for pets.
The business of pet costumes has been growing exponentially. It’s no longer about throwing a bandana or a Santa hat on your dog. Last year’s most popular costumes for pets were pumpkins, devils and hot dogs, but this year we can expect to see even more fancy outfits, with dogs dressed as tacos, skunks, crayons, dinosaurs, chefs, princesses, leprechauns, flowers and even as Gumby.
This trend is just plain wrong. Our pets are not our toys, to be turned into miniature versions of ourselves. Do we really think they would agree to this treatment if they had any say in it?
Would any self-respecting dog want to look like this?
Eileen Proctor, who is the owner of a “cage-free pet resort and spa,” warns that your pet’s costume may be unsafe.
From The Denver Post:
“Don’t assume that just because a company is selling a pet costume that it is a suitable costume for pets,” she warns. And don’t make the mistake of assuming your dog will enjoy human trick-or-treating, in costume or out.
Proctor, owner of Villa La Paws in Castle Rock and a consultant to pet entrepreneurs, says pet owners must make this their cardinal costume rule: “If the dog looks miserable, he probably is.” For those pets, just use a festive bandana instead, she says. (Cats generally have less need to please owners and will make their disdain patently obvious.)
She goes on to warn that costumes should not restrict movement or breathing or involve masks. She adds that your dog should always be supervised while in costume, and that if you’re going to dress your dog (or cat) up for an occasion, ease into it early with praise and short sessions.
But really, it’s clear that there are all kinds of possible problems, so why subject your pet to this treatment in the first place?
Nevertheless, you may see this costume:
“Everyone is interested in how they look and how they accessorize themselves,” Richard Parrott, president of Ricky’s NYC, told Newsweek. “And pets, somewhat, are accessories. They’re part of your life, but they’re the next extension of an accessory.”
Pet as accessories? Do we really want to emulate Paris Hilton and her affinity for purse-sized dogs that she carries down red carpets, the Kardashians’ pet pig, Snow White, or Justin Bieber’s monkey, OG Mally?
Dr. Stephen Zawistowski, science advisor at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, has a different take on it. He believes people find it cute to dress their pet up.
“The reality here is that pets are becoming much more integrated into our families… The people who take the time to dress up their pets are probably the ones who get good veterinary care [for their pets] and make sure they have good food, exercise and attention.”
I’m not sure about that. In checking with relatives and friends in the U.K., I got the response: “I think this must be an American thing. We don’t do that over here.”
What do you think? Are you planning to dress up your kitty for Halloween? Is this a brilliant idea or pet torture?
Photo Credits: Thinkstock