Every day, I monitor my Facebook news feed, my emails, and shares the missing or found furry kids in the DC Metro, and let me tell you, it’s quite depressing.
From Abbie, the Rottweiler who went missing or got stolen last July and was never seen again (https://www.facebook.com/HelpUsFindAbby) dozens of dogs and cats disappear every day: what are we doing wrong? How can we keep our pets safe?
There is nothing worse than not knowing what had happened to your furry kid. Some thirty years ago, I left my dog, a Brittany spaniel to my mother while I was going away for a week. Her name was Julie. There was a very famous song in France “Julie the redhead”, and Julie, my dog, had the cutest freckles on her nose.
When I came back, my mother told me that Julie had escaped and disappeared. I was heartbroken, I spent my time putting flyers, checking the equivalent of Humane Society since I was living in France, and Julie was never seen again. For years, I wondered what had happened, if she has been rescued by a family, sold to a laboratory, abused, hurt? For years, I was wondering if I will ever see her again.
Not long ago, my mother casually mentioned Julie and how she was hit by a car and killed. My mother is not an animal person, and in her mind, she was doing me a favor by not saying anything, and giving me hope. Hope it was not. Nightmare would have been a more appropriate word. I finally had closure after so long.
So what should we do to keep them safe?
1. A Safe Yard? There is no such thing.
I still remember when the mutts were maybe 4/5 months old, they were outside in the backyard, and I was in the house. One of them, Sophie, Ms. Smarty Pants to name her, figured out how to open the latch, and suddenly I saw through the window five straight little tails going all around the front yard to the driveway, to the neighbor’s next door. I was lucky: I was home, I noticed them running around, and Jessica, my daughter was home, and we managed to get them back home safe.
I learned something that day:
NEVER LEAVE YOUR DOGS UNATTENDED IN YOUR “SAFE” YARD.
Needless to say I put padlocks on the gate, but still.
- Keep an eye on your furry kid(s) when they are outside.
- If you have a gate or two gates, put padlocks on them
- Do not leave your furry kid in the yard if you are leaving the house.
- Even if your yard is safe, there could be a storm, and a tree can fall down and break the fence (It happened to one of my neighbors: her lab was in the yard when a tree fell down, and she never saw her dog again).
- Check your yard on a regular basis for any digging or broken fence. Not long ago, Ms. Sophie – again – dug a hole against the fence. You should have seen her face when, the next day, she went straight to it, and the hole was gone with a few improvements on top of it.
- Invisible fence? Would you leave your kid outside with a collar around her or his neck? Invisible fence might be good for the eyes but it doesn’t prevent anyone to come to steal your dog or another dog that is not invisible fence savvy to attack yours.
Microchipping your dog is good in the overall. If someone steals your dog though, the microchip might not be of a big help.
3. Collar and Leash
I am totally paranoid about that one. It happened to me with a retractable leash which broke when Maia saw a squirrel on a trail. I stayed with the handle of the leash, and a dog running around. Fortunately for me, Maia is obedient, and came back. The return was not fun, holding her collar. I am not using that kind of leashes anymore since there is not really a way to prevent it. I know that I could have returned the leash, and would have got a new one. But honestly, would I really care for a new leash if my dog had died out of it? I don’t think so. So, extendable leashes are banned forever from my home.
I usually use a choke collar to walk most of them. They are pretty good, but I now make sure that every link is properly “linked” to the next one. Again, I was lucky, but it happened to Jackson in a pet store, and let me tell you, Jack had the time of his life. He managed to swallow for over $ 40.00 of treats before we could get hold of him. That’s my boy!
Regular fabric collars should be checked on a regular basis as well. The fabric can start to “give away”, and you certainly don’t want to stay empty handed with a dog running around in the traffic.
I always carry pepper spray with me attached to my belt. I told you, I am totally paranoid! But you know what? If an unwelcome or aggressive dog comes towards us, or if a nut (and there are many around) try to steal my dog (honestly he would have to be on crack!) then my pepper spray makes me feel safer!
Call me paranoid but better being safe than sorry. Every poster for a missing furry kid or every post on the net for lost pets just breaks my heart. Let’s keep them safe!