|SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center|
How to Stay Safe Around Animals
If you have a pet, you know how much fun it can be: watching little fish swim in a tank, seeing a dog catch a ball in its mouth, petting the pebbly, cold surface of a lizard's back, or designing a fancy maze for a hamster. Kids who like the outdoors can tell you how exciting it is to spot their favorite birds — and how stinky it can be when they get a sniff of their local skunk.
Animals can be great fun, but it's important to know how to be safe when you're with them. Both indoor animals and outdoor animals need to be treated kindly all the time. This means different things depending on the animal and the situation. With a wild animal, being kind may mean staying far away so the animal doesn't feel threatened and so you stay safe.
The Great Outdoors
Stepping outside can mean a world full of great animals to see — from squirrels in trees to birds in flight. In some parts of the world, kids may see slithery snakes, black bats, or even cool coyotes. And don't forget raccoons, skunks, and other critters that come out in some places at night.
The rule in the great outdoors is simple: Don't touch or go near an animal. Although some of these animals may look cool or even cute, leave them alone. These animals aren't like regular pets. They're not used to being around people and may bite or attack if you come near them. They also might have rabies.
Don't ever try to feed a wild animal. Bird feeders are OK, but other animals, even if they look hungry, shouldn't ever be fed. When it comes to these animals, it's better for everyone if you stay away and check them out at the zoo, on the Internet, on TV nature shows, or in books.
Playing Safely With Pets
Pets can't tell you if they're upset or scared, so they show you. They might do this by biting or scratching. To avoid bites and scratches:
When you're at a friend's home, the same rules apply — plus one more. Always ask your friend if it's OK to pet or hold his or her pet. If your friend says OK, move slowly and be sure to let the animal sniff your hands first.
Woof! Woof! Safety Around a Strange Dog
Coming home from school and hoping you won't see the dog who always barks like crazy and runs around? You're not the only one. Kids often get scared of a dog they don't know, especially if that dog is loud and doesn't have an owner nearby. To keep your cool around canines (dogs):
A final word on felines (say: fee-lines), also known as cats: Although most kids aren't as scared of strange cats as they are of strange dogs, it's still a good idea to stay away from cats you don't know. Never pet or touch a strange cat, even if it seems friendly.
Save your love for your own dogs and cats. You know they'll love you back!
Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD