A few months ago, I got a call from a concerned woman near Atlanta. She said that her elderly uncle lives near us and his two dogs escaped. We posted pictures on our FB page immediately. In about 3 hours, she texted us saying that they found them; someone had shot and killed both dogs.
I have had farmer clients who said when they see dogs in their cow pasture, these dogs tend to get a “heart attack.” The casual nature of these statements shocked me.
About four years ago when we were just starting out here, a group of young folks drove up. They said they were thinking about getting a new dog as theirs had recently been hit by a car. I tried to bring up the concept of a fence. They said they do not believe in keeping dogs enclosed as dogs are supposed to be free. I was dumbfounded as they had just told me that their last dog had been killed because he wasn’t contained.
Just last week our employee’s second dog was attacked and killed on her property by the neighbor’s dogs.
I can go on and on. Almost every week I hear a direct or indirect horrid experience with dogs that are not restricted to their properties.
When we moved here from Oregon, we used to stop when we saw a dead dog on the roads to look for any identifying tags to notify the owners. After nearly seven years, we got jaded and realized that there will not be a microchip or owner’s telephone number on these poor dogs. We do not stop anymore.
As you have guessed, I am trying to encourage everyone to keep their dogs restricted to their property. I think the best way to do this is to have a physical fence. Chain link fences are expensive. A much cheaper alternative is a combination wood and T-post four- to six-foot sheep and goat fence with barbed wires on top to make it higher. A very rough estimate to enclose a ¼ acre property (the boundaries being about 400 feet) can be somewhere around $800 if you are willing to do the work yourself. I priced things at Lowe’s. I am sure that you can shop around and bring the cost down.
I think radio collar fences like Invisible Fence are also a viable alternative in many cases. The idea is to bury a wire along the perimeter of the area you want your dog to stay in. Although it isn’t as secure as a proper fence, it’s a great option, especially for little dogs. There are many other brands in the market.
Now going down to less desirable but still better than being hit by car category:
Think about an overhead-trolley exerciser or aerial-tie-out cable. The next thing to consider is just a tie out with a proper shed and shelter and access to water.
This is not the best choice, but a far better option than being run over or getting shot by a farmer for bothering his cows.
Now let me get back to my “broken record” plea. Imagine a scenario where the county has kind and wise animal care officers who are paid handsomely from the annual licensing fees the county collects from the numerous dogs in our communities. Anyone who has an intact dog over a certain age will be paying a slightly higher licensing fee. The breeders will obtain a breeding license and the premises will be inspected to keep up to date with USDA standards.
I realize this is all a dream, but these measures are not draconian infringement on personal rights – they’re an encouragement to people to be socially responsible. I heard one of the local mayors say that they are not particularly moved by animal welfare issues but tired of getting phone calls about loose dogs. The primary elections are over, but runoffs in many counties and municipalities are possible. Please choose a candidate who will support pet-related legislation, and proper enforcement.
Goutam Mukherjee, DVM, MS, Ph.D. (Dr. G) has been a veterinarian for more than 30 years. He owns High Falls Holistic Veterinary Care near Geraldine, Alabama. To suggest topics for future discussions, email him at email@example.com