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Fake cobweb Halloween decor can entangle and hurt pets and wildlife, experts warn

Fake spider webs might delight trick-or-treaters on Halloween, but those decorations — and other trappings of the holiday — can be a real threat to animals, experts warn.

“Every year, wildlife and domestic pets face dangers during Halloween,” Lisa Bloch of Marin Humane, an animal rescue group north of San Francisco, wrote in an email to McClatchy news group on Tuesday. “We urge people to decorate and celebrate responsibly.”

Bloch shared photos showing what happened in 2016 when one wild animal encountered some green spider web in Mill Valley, California.

“The owl got stuck in fake cobwebs that had been put up as Halloween decorations and had to be rescued by one of our Animal Services Officers,” Bloch wrote.

WildCare, which runs a wildlife hospital in San Rafael, said in a blog post last year that rescuers there treat dozens of entanglements each year — some of them linked to Halloween.

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Animal service officers had to rescue this owl at a home in Mill Valley, California, in 2016, according to Marin Humane. Marin Humane

“A pigeon was rescued from Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, wrapped, like the little owl, in fake spider web decorations,” Alison Hermance wrote for WildCare. “His rescuer was able to untangle him, but he had a swollen foot that meant he needed medical care at WildCare.”

WildCare also advised people not to leave out treats where wildlife could find them, to dispose of pumpkins after the holiday so animals don’t eat them and to “avoid decorations with small, dangling, edible-looking parts.”

Bloch wrote in a piece for the Marin Independent Journal this month that “Halloween candy is not good for pets, and chocolate, in particular, can prove deadly for dogs because it contains a potent toxin called theobromine.”

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“If your pet ingests chocolate or anything potentially poisonous, consult a veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 immediately. The first signs of chocolate poisoning are vomiting, diarrhea, increased urination and rapid heartbeat,” Bloch wrote.

She also warned about the risks fake cobwebs pose to felines, writing that they “have been known to cause intestinal damage in cats.”

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Jared Gilmour is a McClatchy national reporter based in San Francisco. He covers everything from health and science to politics and crime. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and grew up in North Dakota.
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