Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Animals in swimming pools

"Call it udder shock. A South Carolina woman who heard a giant splash in her backyard discovered a 650-pound cow had fallen into her swimming pool."  More

It turns out, large animals in swimming pools aren't rare.  The more I looked, the more examples I found.  In England, a pony named "Fat Boy" got tipsy on fermented apples and tipped into a nearby swimming pool.  The pool's owner said: “I didn't have a clue what to do next - who do you call when there's a horse stuck in your swimming pool?"   It took police and fire crews, several slings and a set of steps built from hay bales to get him out.

In Massachusetts, in the dead of winter, a horse fell into the frigid water of a pool. The horse was able to get himself out, once firemen cut the ice on the pool. “The horse had gotten out of his barn, walked through an open gate, and fell right through a pool cover that is supposed to be able to support the weight of an elephant."

Elephant?  I didn't find any report of elephants falling in, but did find lots of elephant jokes.  "Q: Why were the elephants kicked out of the swimming pool?  A: They couldn't keep their trunks up." 

One website asked "What happens if an elephant falls into a swimming pool?"  The answers offered by thoughtful surfers included:
  • No problem... won't be any water left.
  • Drink all the water.
  • Walk out the shallow end....
  • Who cares? It's not my business if he falls in.
Actually, falling into pools is a problem for people as well.  The USA leads the world in deaths from drowning after falling into pools--with 102 deaths (per year?, Jan. 2004).  Why the USA?  Probably because we're a big country, a rich country, with lot's of drunken people living where it's hot. 

While I was browsing statistics for death, I discovered all the wonderful ways you can kick the bucket--such as 5 USA deaths for "flatulence and related conditions."  I wondered what "related conditions" were?  Explosion?  Luckily, Egypt was first in flatulence mortality.

Children are at risk from pools.  One toddler fell into a pool after escaping from the house through a pet door.  This toddler toppled in twice the same way.   So it's not surprising there are inventions to sound the alarm when someone falls into a pool.  

Pool covers are touted as one way to keep "unwanted animals and children" out of your pool.  But the fact is, the covers encourage large animals to fall in, because they think they can walk on the cover.  You can also buy a "Skamper Ramp" to allow your pet to, naturally, scamper out of the pool without the inconvenience of drowning.

For every large animal or drunken person who falls in, there are thousands of small animals that perish in pools--birds, frogs, toads, salamanders, snakes, spiders, and other insects. 

Again, inventors to the rescue!  No question, it's a serious problem--but the man who wrote the application for patent 5862541 had some overblown prose.  He called it a "Well Frog Rescue Device."  It was designed to help animals "attracted by the large water body, and dive in without any consideration of a way out."  Inconsiderate beasts!

The patent application goes into a long description of the agonies of the dying animal, no doubt hoping to sway the patent examiner: "When their strength wears out, after a strenuous battle for life itself, they will drown to the bottom of the skimmer basket, and die. Not only is this a sad period for the [amphibian,] but also for the pool owner, who will have to empty his pool filter, which can contain several dead animals, especially after rainy nights."  Summing, up, the inventor says his invention will allow the frog to "thus escape its otherwise fatal destiny."  Indeed.

On a recent trip to Australia, I discovered our southern neighbors are way ahead of Americans on environmental awareness.  So it's not surprising I found an Australian bulletin on how to Make pools fauna friendly:   Advice included using a pool cover, creating a barrier to block entry of small crawling animals, keeping the pool full, and adding escape routes like hanging ropes.

The bulletin went on to caution that koalas cannot always use ropes to climb out.  So I guess if I browse further, there will be reports of koalas drowning in pools.  Time to stop before I get depressed about the suffering thoughtless people impose on animals.

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