Pet costumes are scary on Halloween
Animal rights groups are so busy fighting to keep animals from being the subject of scientific research, used in circuses and turned into fur coats that they are missing one of the greatest abuses animals today: forcing family pets to wear Halloween costumes.
It's bad enough that adults have hijacked Halloween and instead of being a night for kids to get dressed up in weird outfits and overdose on sugar, Halloween night now belongs to margarita-swilling accountants dressed as Darth Vader and your strange neighbor "Bob" decked out as Wonder Woman. And now people insist on dressing their pets in Halloween costumes. So, not only are we teaching our dogs to sit and shake, we're also teaching them "embarrassment" and "humiliation."
You don't think dogs can be embarrassed? Right now I'm looking at a photo of a cocker spaniel in a Princess Leia costume, and, let me tell you, this is one embarrassed pooch. The Labrador retriever in the Buzz Lightyear getup looks none too happy, also. With wings protruding from his shoulder blades and a cloth "helmet" on his head, Buzz the Dog looks ... well, he looks very disappointed in the human race.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is wasting so much time trying to save chickens from Col. Sanders that it's allowing a generation of dogs to suffer grave psychological injury from being forced to wear Batman capes and ballerina tutus.
Halloween hasn't become a horror for just dogs. Cats also are subjected to abuse by costume. But cats, who have a more refined sense of dignity and self-worth than dogs, react differently to being dressed up.
I'm looking at a cat wearing a pirate costume on the Internet site "Kitty City," and if this animal had access to a dueling saber or musket pistol, its owner would be at room temperature pronto. We had a cat named Musubi for many years, and if I had ever tried to put her into a costume, my arms would have looked like they'd been fed into a meat grinder.
I'd like to think this frenzy to dress up pets is fueled by pet lovers trying to bring another dimension of happiness to their furry friends. But it seems to be mainly fueled by greed on the part of pet costume makers. I received a press release alerting me to the "Top 10 Most Popular Halloween Pet Outfits." They included "Yoda Dog," "Darth Vader Dog," "Fireman Dog" and the homicidal "Pirate Cat."
The release basically promoted all the costumes available on certain Web sites such as "SpoiledRottenDoggies.com." The dogs on this site looked more "held hostage" than "spoiled rotten." The humiliation of the costumed detainees was so palpable it seemed like a doggie version of the Abu Ghraib prison photos.
The weirdest getup was a dog wearing a "Deluxe Scooby Doo" costume ($15.95). Putting aside the question of why you would dress your dog in a dog costume, this looked like Scooby Doo had swallowed a black poi dog whole and the dog had chewed its way through Scooby Doo's chest.
I doubt my dog, Boomer, would care to wear such an outfit, but I'm thinking of ordering it for myself. It's the scariest costume I've seen for man or beast.
Charles Memminger, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists' 2004 First Place Award winner for humor writing, appears Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org