By Laverne Hughey, Humane Society of Harrison County

In approximately four weeks, Halloween will be celebrated by all the little goblins, and a good time will be had by all.

Unless companion animal guardians are careful, however, it can be a very scary time for dogs and cats, especially those not allowed in the home. Dogs that are normally safe in their fenced yard should be confined in a special area where they will not be noticed by trick or treaters or others passing by.

Many homeowners have a steady stream of visitors during the Halloween festivities, with excited children running to the door, screaming all the way. Imagine how frightening that would be to a sleeping cat curled up on the porch bench. Chances are, Miss Fluffy would start running and who knows how far she might go and could she find her way home?

A dog or cat that lives outside most of the time should be brought inside to the laundry room or a closed garage until the following morning when its corner of the world has returned to normal.

Something came to my attention about Halloween and pet safety that I had not thought of previously. It was the suggestion that dogs as well as cats should be in a safe place the day before Halloween. That may seem overprotective, but precaution, which will prevent a tragedy, is always wise.

Dogs and cats that are kept safely indoors might be happier confined to a bedroom or laundry room until the swarm of visitors subsides. Even though dogs may enjoy running to the front door when guests arrive, they could be in for a big surprise when the door is opened and costumed children are yelling and jumping, anxious to receive the special treats.

A startled dog could dash out the door and dart right into traffic, or might decide to nip an outstretched hand. Why take a chance?

While a cat may not be too likely to accompany its human to the front door, it may decide to dart out the door once it is open. It is just about impossible to catch a cat once it starts running, and Fluffy may not be able to find her way home. And, if Fluffy is like most cats, through no fault of her own, she probably is not wearing a collar with ID tags.

Children probably do not realize they may be frightening a companion animal, but it does happen. Since we never know how pets will react to every situation, it is best to be prepared for the evening’s activities to avoid any potential problems with the animal or the visiting children.

Keep house pets safely confined to one room with the door securely closed, and keep outside pets out of harm’s way by placing them out of sight. Just in case. While usually not a problem, strange things can happen on Halloween, and a passerby may be tempted to throw a rock or stick at a barking dog or a cat strolling or running by.

Anyone trying to place a litter of kittens with a new family, please hold off until after Halloween. Unless the prospective adopter is absolutely known to be responsible, Halloween is not a good time to send an animal, especially a cat or kitten, to a new home with someone you do not know.

And, of course, do not feed dogs or cats any Halloween treats as they could make the animal sick. The last place you want to be on a holiday weekend is at a veterinarian’s office. Halloween is on Saturday this year.

A few simple precautions can assure you, your family, children and animals a safe, fun time.