There is no shortage of horror stories about beloved companion animals who were gunned down or otherwise harmed by not only law enforcement, but people who have come into a yard to do a job and ended up lashing out at a dog that was simply doing it's job. The stories are all varied, exchanging minutiae details here and there, but the result is almost always the same. Tragedy. Pure, unadulterated tragedy. If you take a moment to search Facebook, it's quite easy to locate pages like Justice for Bucky, Justice for Ice, and the ever growing group of pages like Dogs Shot By Police, that cover any story that is applicable.
In the wake of these incidents, tension continues to grow, and fear poisons the minds of pet owners around the world. Legislation to protect dogs and cats from those who might feel the need to harm them continues to multiply, get lobbied for, and in some instances, pass. But the problem with legislation is that it takes time. It takes quite a lot of time. So in the interim, people often ask what they can do to minimize the risk of their dog entering in to a deadly confrontation with a police officer, or anyone else.
While there's no surefire way to assure that your beloved canine will not come under fire from someone who may feel the need to use force against your pet, there are things that you can do to help prevent it.
First and foremost, be aware! If you are in the predicament of needing to call on law enforcement, fire department, or other specialized services that might require strangers to come into contact with your animal, immediately contain them. Crate training is recommended when possible. Stop the problem before it becomes dire and deadly. Do not assume that your dog will not respond in some way to the strangers intruding on to his or her home, not even if you have the most well behaved dog in the world. It's all too common in these tragic stories to hear of a police officer who claims to have pulled the trigger because an animal barking made him fear for his life. Do not give anyone the chance to feel threatened by your animal. Containment is key.
Next, invest time in training and socialization. If your animal is a 'talker', some people may view this as threatening, and take action that ends in the death of your pet. Of course, it's understood that some dogs are so deeply ingrained to be vocal that this is not always an option. But training can go far beyond teaching your dog to have 'speaking manners'. Teach your dog to come when called, to sit, to stay, or to kennel up. And teach them with so much vigor that they do not hesitate to heed your call. These commands could be the split second action that could save your dog's life. Learn them, use them.
Additionally, take whatever precautions you can to keep your dog within your property. I want to stress that this is very tenuous. Keeping your dog on your property will not necessarily protect your animal from outsiders. What it does do is minimize the risk of exposing your animal to people who may wish to, or feel compelled to, cause your animal harm. Many dogs have been killed on their own property. This is a fact. However, taking precautions to limit their exposure to danger is always prudent.
Always walk your dog on a leash. There are leash laws in nearly every county in every state in the country. Abide by them. This is a dual purpose method. If your dog is on a leash, people in law enforcement will be far less inclined to approach you and your animal when you are out in public. But this also assures that your dog will not become excited by a squirrel, run into the road, and be struck by a motor vehicle. Don't follow it because it is the law. Follow it because it's the safest thing to do for your animal.
Becoming involved in legislature is also recommended. If you have the means, and the time, it's always good to know what's happening in your community where your animals health and safety are concerned.
It's hard to say if any of these methods would have saved the life of their pets from outsiders and civil servants, and in some, they certainly wouldn't have. But they are effective ways of lowering the odds of your cherished pet becoming a mere statistic.
What are some of the ways that you keep your animals safe from strangers?