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The York County SPCA's executive director doesn't dress her pets in Halloween costumes.

"I might put little antlers or little bug antennas on them, but I've never put them in full body costumes ... because I once bought a sweater for one of my cats and the cat fell over (from wearing it)," Melissa Smith said.

"So I learned animals might not like to be in a full body suit. Now I just try to do the head (decorations) and get a quick picture."

Still, Smith isn't fundamentally opposed to full-body pet costumes, within reason.

"As far as I'm concerned, as long as the costume doesn't pose any kind of danger to the animal or restrict its movements or its ability to see or breathe, a lot of people enjoy doing it," she said. "Some pets seem to enjoy it, too. I really think it depends on the individual animal, and I think that dogs are probably more tolerant than cats."

Four-legged pumpkins: About half of pet owners in the United States dress their furry friends in costumes for Halloween, according to the Humane Society of the United States. Pumpkin costumes and ladybug costumes are perennial favorites, HSUS's website states.

"Most people who dress their pets up really love their pets and want them to be part of the celebration," Smith said. "Most times, I think there's no harm in it whatsoever."

But pets that don't enjoy being dressed up shouldn't be forced to wear costumes, she said.

Of more concern to Smith are the risks of pets being poisoned by Halloween candy or being injured after sneaking outside when their humans open doors to trick-or-treaters.

The top Halloween hazards for pets are escaping and accidental poisoning, and animal shelters and veterinarians see a spike in business during the Halloween season, according to the HSUS website.

"I certainly would not leave a pet outside during the hours of trick-or-treating," Smith said. "Make sure they are secure, safe and indoors."

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com.

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