Stay safe with animals
Animals can be a lot of fun, but it’s important to know how to be safe when you’re around them. Pets and outdoor animals should always be handled with care. This means different things depending on the animal and the situation.
Going outside can mean a world full of amazing animals, from squirrels in the trees to birds in flight. In some parts of the world, children may see gliding snakes, black bats, or even a badass coyote. And don’t forget the raccoons, skunks and other critters that come out in some places at night.
The rule in nature is simple: do not touch or approach the animal. As adorable or even cute as some of these animals may seem, leave them alone. These animals are not like ordinary pets. They are not used to being around people and may bite or attack them if you get close to them. They may also have rabies .
Do not try to feed a wild animal. Bird feeders are fine, but other animals, even if they seem hungry, should never be fed. When it comes to these animals, it’s best for everyone to stay away and watch them at the zoo, on the internet, on nature TV shows, or in books.
Be careful with pets
Pets can’t tell you if they’re upset or scared, so they show it to you. They can do this by biting or scratching.
To avoid bites and scratches:
- Never disturb your pet when he is eating or taking food or water.
- Never tease a dog or cat or pull on its tail or ears.
- Never disturb a sleeping animal.
- Never remove a toy or bone from a cat or dog and never keep it out of the reach of the animal.
- Never try to approach an animal with its babies (for example, a cat with kittens or a dog with kittens). Animal moms are very protective and bite to keep you away.
- When taking a rabbit, hamster, guinea pig, or gerbil out of its cage , do it slowly. Be sure to keep the animal under the belly.
- Never hold a rabbit by the ears.
- When removing an iguana, lizard, rattlesnake, or other reptile from an aquarium, do so slowly and carefully. Then wash your hands immediately, as reptiles can carry bacteria such as salmonella on their skin .
- Never stick your bare hands into an aquarium – most fish will not harm you. But some types of fish can sting if they feel uncomfortable. Water also contains germs that can cause skin infections.
- If the animal appears sick or injured, stay away. An animal that usually likes to play and stroke can become angry and bite when it feels bad. Let an adult know so they can help the animal.
When you’re at a friend’s house, the same rules apply, plus one more. Always ask your friend if they can pet or hold their pet. If your friend says “okay”, move slowly and be sure to let the animal sniff your hands first.
Safety around an unfamiliar dog
Do you come home from school hoping not to see a dog that is always barking like crazy and running around? You are not the only one. Children are often afraid of an unfamiliar dog, especially if this dog is noisy and there is no owner nearby.
To keep cool with dogs:
- Never pet or touch an unfamiliar dog, even if it runs towards you and looks friendly.
- If your dog starts running towards you, don’t run. Running away can make your dog want to chase you – even if he doesn’t want to hurt you, his instincts will make him chase you.
- If an unfamiliar dog approaches you, try to stay where you are. It can be scary for a minute or two, but often the dog gets bored and turns away. If the dog tries to sniff you, let him sniff – this is his way of watching you.
- Walk away from an unfamiliar dog very slowly. Don’t wave your arms or make a lot of noise, as this will only make the dog angry. Look straight ahead, not in the dog’s eyes.
- If you are very afraid that an unfamiliar dog or a strange dog will try to bite or attack you, tell an adult as soon as possible. He can find the owner of the dog.
(e.g. FEE lines) also known as cats: While most children are not as afraid of unfamiliar cats as they are of unfamiliar dogs, it’s always a good idea to stay away from cats you don’t know. Never stroke or touch an unfamiliar cat, even if it seems friendly.
Keep loving your dogs and cats. You know they will love you back!