DEAR ABBY: Last summer, my husband and I visited a zoo. In the petting area, we saw a group of young children on a field trip. The teachers had made name tags out of construction paper and hung them around the children's necks. I remarked to my husband that the identification tags were not a good idea.
As he approached the teachers to express my concerns, I heard a "gasping" noise behind me. I turned and saw a goat chewing the cord that had twisted around a small boy's neck. The name tag was already eaten, and the goat was working its way up the cotton string. I frantically pried enough of the string out of the animal's mouth to free the strangling child.
By then, another goat was jerking a little girl around by the string on her name tag. My husband rescued her.
Abby, it's unwise to hang anything around a child's neck, especially when the child will encounter animals that may be attracted to dangling objects. Also, some animals routinely eat plant products. Cotton of any kind, paper and jute -- which are made from plants -- are considered "food" by goats.
Those unwitting teachers were sending the children into the animal pen dressed like a salad bar! I know they didn't realize the danger, but they should consider it in the future.
Thanks for helping me caution parents and teachers who take children to petting zoos. -- COUNTRY GAL FROM SACRAMENTO
DEAR COUNTRY GAL: You're welcome. And now I'll add a thought of my own. A small child wearing a tag that reveals his or her name on an outing is all the more vulnerable to being approached by a stranger. All the person has to say is, "Hi, Suzie. I'm a friend of your mommy's." I think they're a bad idea entirely.