Friday, May 15, 2009

Can you afford your doggie door?

Evidently litigious lawyers are falling on hard times, like everyone else. Maybe gas it too expensive to actually chase ambulances these days, so they are reduced to scouring coroner reports and obituaries.

And what are they finding?

People are stupid, and accidents happen. Either, or, both.

Children's Deaths Tied to Pet Doors
Unknown Danger for Curious Tots Able to Squeeze Through Tiny Openings

The headline says enough, huh? "Unknown Danger". NEWS FLASH! Children can go through openings a normal size adult can't fit through!

But it's not merely going through the doggy door that kills the child. It's the swimming pool in the backyard, maybe the cars on the road, or the five gallon bucket sitting on the patio.

More than a hundred children have died or been seriously injured in the last decade after squeezing through tiny pet doors and getting into swimming pools or other dangerous places, new research has found.

Let me make sure I understand. There is an DOOR OPEN to the backyard. You have a swimming pool filled with water, and inadequately secured (fence, alarm system, cover etc....).

The child EXITS said door, and DROWNS (tragically) in the pool.

Who's fault is that?

Oh, sorry, the door was small. My bad.

"Parents don't appreciate that their children, even if they're bigger, can get through," said Dylan's father, Hank Didier, a Florida lawyer suing a pet door manufacturer for the family of two-year old Matthew Ranfone.

Matthew's mother Carol, of Spring Hill, Florida, found her son floating in the backyard swimming pool after he managed to get through a small pet door in the family home.

"I remember when the accident occurred," she recalled, "and thinking to myself, 'How in the world did he ever fit out of that door?'"

The PetSafe door in the Ranfone home contained no warning to parents of the possible danger on its package or product instructions.

She was outraged to learn that many children had died under similar circumstances before her son.

"It was just unbelievable to me that all of these accidents happened as a result of doggie doors and how come I wasn't informed," she told ABC News.

Sometimes kids don't even try to go through the pet door. Sometimes they just open the door and walk right out.

It's a hellacious thing. It is very distressing to have to write about this.

But we must keep perspective. The external doors to my house did not come with warnings about small children learning how to unlock them and exit before I suspect they might figure it out.

The road in front of my house does not have a sign warning that small children unrestrained in the front yard might run quickly to the middle of the road.

At the request of trial lawyers, Sean Kane, of Safety Research and Strategies, combed through hundreds of coroner's reports and media accounts.

"It's a very laborious task to get through the documents and the data and the connections to find these incidents," said Kane. "But I think at the end of this we're going to find hundreds of incidents."

Kane compared the issue with pet doors to the discovery of the pattern of children hurting themselves in cribs.

It is NOT THE SAME AS CRIB INJURIES at all. The article did not mention any incidents of children being guillotined by the pet door, or getting stuck in it and starving to death, or some other form of death by pet door.

In fact, Ms. Ranfone's website tells this story -

It was a typical late afternoon and the house was buzzing with three adults and two children when Matthew found the doggie door behind the couch. He crawled through it and made his way onto an enclosed patio area and then through a pool fence.

"Through a pool fence". Yet it is 'through the doggie door' that is blamed for the accident.

Maybe this is why:

"I just want parents to understand the danger associated with the doggy doors. I never ever considered that a child would ever go near the door," Ranfone said. "It was inconceivable to me."

"Through the fence" must be self-evident.

Now I am not opposed to slapping a warning sticker on a doggy door saying "Not for use by children" or something like that, IF a manufacturer feels so inclined. But it is not necessary. Logically, where are you going to draw the lines? At what size of doggy door is the danger self-evident? And if the Great Dane's doggy door requires a sticker, then should not the human door?

Or perhaps the doggy doors should be redesigned, but at what price to the consumer? And why should pet owners pay this price, and not the pool-fence purchasers?

This story was came to my attention via, where the commentators had already sussed out the *shocking* fact that Ms. Rafone's "advocacy" website was in fact registered to her lawyer, and the design was eerily similar to his site.

The "advocacy" website was launched just earlier this week, according to the local Fox News report, just in time for the Good Morning America show.

The accident, btw, happened in 2006.

More on Radio Systems Corporation's CEO

More on Hank Didier and here

More from the Safety Research Group

1 comment:

  1. (1) I love kids and hope to have some one day, but I have to admit that the emotional innocence factor is so over played. Everyone gets all huffy over dead babies, but come on folks, it's SO much better that babies are dead than, say, an 18 year old who has soaked up all this time and resources and is just about to be a productive member of society getting killed.

    Babies are the easiest things to replace.

    This sounds cruel, but it's true. And it's natures way... when times are tough, the first to go are the kids.

    (2) Because of human stupidity with (1) no one seems to want to take responsibility for dead babies, especially parents. Sure, they grieve, but no one needs a warning label to tell them that small children who crawl on the floor are just like pets, and pets have NO problem coming and going through doggy doors, so why the heck do they think wandering junior would have any problem?

    What, are they so stupid that they think calling it a "dog" door means humans can't use it?

    (3) Natural Selection. This is a good thing. People this stupid should reconsider breeding.

    (4) Pools are over-rated death traps. I'd recommend filling it in and having a nice herb garden instead.

    (5) This issue is part of the larger liberal fantasy that someone else owes you a perfect life of bliss and if you don't get it, you get to find someone with deep pockets to pay and pay and pay until you come close.

    No personal responsibility. Everything is an entitlement. No thinking required for consumers, but producers must be responsible for imagining every stupid thing that someone could possibly do with their product and pay damages if they do it.