Daily News, October 31, 1998
Fur shame, shelter told
Halloween ad called frightful
By K.C. BAKER
Daily News Staff Writer
WITH PRANKSTERS RINGING bells and trick-or-treaters streaming to the front door dressed as monsters and goblins, Halloween can be scary enough for pets.
But this Halloween, animal rights advocates got spooked when the Center for Animal Care and Control, one of the city's largest shelters, ran ads in local newspapers featuring a dog dressed in an Elvis costume.
The ad read, "Halloween is coming. Adopt a dog. Then, you can dress him up in a silly costume and show the pictures to everyone at the office."
Outraged animal advocates charged the ad was irresponsible because it encouraged impulse adoptions.
"When other humane organizations are trying to impress on people that animals are not objects to be owned, one of the largest shelter systems in the country is promoting them to be used as Halloween props," New York animal advocate Jane Colton said.
Sandra Lewis, New York director of Friends of Animals, an international animal protection agency, agreed that the ads were off target.
"They teach people to buy living things on a whim," she said. "It's like what happens at Easter when people buy rabbits and chickens. Afterward humane organizations all over the country get calls about how to divest themselves of the animal."
Adopting a dog or cat requires a long-term commitment, said Michael Kaplan, who performs magic tricks as Geldalf the Wizard Clown to promote responsible adoptions for New York s Bide-a-Wee shelters.
One of the most popular tricks he performs is his dog levitation." But his favorite trick is making pets disappear -- from animal shelters -- and then reappear in loving homes.
Still, he said, pet adoptions are not to be taken lightly.
"It's a major responsibility," Kaplan said. I wouldn adopt a dog justto use in a magic trick."
CACC spokesman Kyle Burkhart said that while some people "appreciated the humor" of the ads, others complained, prompting the city-run shelter to pull them.
Lewis says encouraging adoptions at Halloween is imprudent since the holiday can be traumatic and dangerous for pets.
"Dragging your pet to celebrations isn't smart because the animal can get caught underfoot, or you can drop a leash, and the dog will take off." she said. "The noise and confusion alone is enough to scare most animals."
Squeezing your pet into a confining costume isn't always a good idea. said Jacque Schultz of the ASPCA.
"When a pet has something strange put on them, they can be spooked by it." she said. "If vour pet doesn t mind it, knock yourself out. But if the animal is harmed in some way or can't stand wearing antlers or a clown nose don t do it.
Avoid feeding pets candy, especially chocolate, which can be poisonous to dogs. And keep dogs and cats conflned in a separate room to prevent them from running outside when little ghosts and goblins are at the front door.
"When strangers are coming to your house in strange outfits, the animal might take a nip if it is scared or startled," Schultz said.