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Chino Valley Review | Chino Valley, Arizona

home : features : features February 6, 2016

4/9/2014 8:01:00 AM
Tips suggest ways to keep pets safely and at home
Dave Morfield
Special to the Review

A dog that roams the neighborhood, or even farther, can annoy neighbors, expose the dog to harm, and potentially cause heartbreak for the owners. No responsible owner wants their pet to be hit by a car, cause an accident on Highway 89, kill a neighbor's chickens, chase livestock or menace someone who is legally walking a dog on a leash or riding a horse in the area.

Every home is different, as is every dog. However, there are escape opportunities that arise often enough so that every responsible dog owner should be aware and take steps to prevent them.

One of the most common reasons a dog gets loose is also among the easiest to prevent. A worker, such as a meter reader or a gardener, may enter the property and either leave a gate open or fail to secure it properly. One or more conspicuous signs that read "Dogs on Premises" may prevent this problem. The more common sign that reads "Beware of Dog" is not recommended because it suggests that the owner knows the dog is dangerous.

A more elaborate approach is to install so-called "airlock" gates, two gates in tandem, each of which must be opened to allow entry or exit. Proper use of such gates, that is, opening only one gate at a time, also prevents a dog from escaping by sneaking or charging past the owner when entering or exiting.

Securing a gate can be tricky. Many dogs discover how to flip open a typical pivoting latch. This is easily prevented by slipping a padlock or a dog clip through the locking mechanism of the latch.

Dogs that dig their way out are a special challenge. The best solution is to install anti-dig barriers underground all around the perimeter of the fence. A Web search for "wolfdog containment" will turn up in-depth information for building such barriers. The basic idea is to install a two-foot or greater swath of chain link fencing horizontally along the bottom of the existing fence.

Some owners install an electric fence to prevent the dog from approaching the outer containment fence. However, such a system must be checked for proper operation regularly.

A surprising number of dogs can climb fences. One way to prevent such escapes is to install so-called "coyote rollers", whether home-made or store-bought, along the top of the fence. They typically consist of tubing several inches in diameter, which turns when the dog puts his paws on it and tries to pull himself up.

Another way to discourage climbers is to install three-wire, 45 degree brackets, strung with plain wire, not barb wire, along the top of the fence.

This writer had a dog that would literally tear his way through a chain-link fence. Installing a second layer of fencing over his favorite escape locations eventually discouraged him. However, a better way is to install nine gauge fencing, the heaviest normally used for home fencing, instead of the usual 12 or 14 gauge. Note that some fencing material that is adequate for use on a ranch may be easily defeated by a dog of one of the toy breeds, who can squeeze through a 2" by 4" mesh with little effort.

Although so-called "invisible" fence systems may seem appealing, they have serious drawbacks. Most importantly they offer no protection against intruders who might harm or be harmed by the dog. Furthermore, a highly aroused dog may charge across the line where pain is inflicted, but be unwilling to cross it again to return to his own yard.

Finally no matter how secure the dog's home may be, there is always a chance that something will go wrong and the dog will get loose. According to Animal Control Officer Angela Grassi a buckle collar with the legally required, current, registration tag securely attached is essential. When she finds a stray, the tag enables her to identify and contact the owner promptly.

In addition Adoption Specialist Grace Rentschler recommends that all dogs have ID chips. Such a chip will allow Animal Control in other jurisdictions to identify the owner more quickly and are available through your local veterinarian. All dogs adopted from Chino Valley Animal Shelter have such chips.

Animal Control's phone number is 928-771-3260. Do not call the shelter for an animal control issue.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Article comment by: Kathryn Bales

I agree that license tags should be attached to collars, but they can be torn off, especially by an escape artist. I use tags that slide onto a buckle collar and lay flat against the surface. They can be obtained at a reasonable cost, with or without a good quality buckle collar from Boomerang Tags and other places.

I also do not recommend the collars with plastic click fasteners. They come undone too easily. Take the time to fasten a buckle. Your dog's life is worth it.

I am a strong advocate of cats being kept indoors, but if you do have an indoor/outdoor cat, it should also wear a collar and ID. Cats should only wear breakaway collars for their own safety. A chip will provide permanent ID without endangering the animal. The only problem that I have found with chips is that they will sometimes migrate, and some shelters do not do a thorough search of the animal's body.

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