Protecting Your Pets

There are certain things that pet owners take for granted and unfortunately, it is not until after a tragic event that it occurs to them that they could have taken some simple steps to prevent it.

From time to time, I try and help to remind pet owners about the dangers that lurk out there. Most people usually don’t think about what could possibly happen to an unattended pet, especially here in Niles. What I am talking about is the danger of permitting your dog or cat to roam freely around the neighborhood or leaving your dog unattended in your backyard.

Reports of missing / possibly stolen pets have been on the rise recently in the Chicago area. I have received many emails of pets missing from backyards; pets that normally would not leave the yard on their own. These are all types of dogs from the small variety (shih tzus, poodles, etc.), to large dogs (St. Bernards, Labrador retrievers, etc.), and everything in between. It is hard for us to believe that there are people who would drive around neighborhoods looking for dogs and cats that are left alone in backyards or that are roaming the streets. The hard reality is that this is a problem and it exists in many communities. It is something that dog owners have to become more aware of and help to prevent.

Dogs and cats are stolen for the following two main reasons in no particular order:
  • To be sold to distributors who in turn sell the animals to research laboratories. It is here that the dog or cat will live out its life being part of medical experiments.
  • To be used as bait in training dogs to fight. The smaller or friendlier pets are used to make the fighting dogs more vicious because those animals do not know how to protect themselves.
There are people that drive around neighborhoods and up alleys casing the area to see who leaves their pets outside and for how long. When the moment is right and you are not looking, that is when they make their move. I know most people don’t want to think about these things happening to their family pet. I know I think about it. I have three dogs that I consider members of my family.

There are some things that pet owners can do to ensure that your family pet does not end up in a bad situation. First of all, do not leave your pet alone in the yard. If you must leave your pet outside, stand by the door watching it or check on them every few minutes. As with a child, they can disappear in an instant. I know it is difficult to watch them when it is below zero out but just standing inside your door can make all the difference. Another thing pet owners can do is to hide their yard by either installing some privacy fencing or planting tall shrubbery along easy access areas (alleys, driveways, etc.) or raising the height of the fence.

Securing the gate with a lock and ensuring it closes properly are more ways to discourage pet thieves.

To this date we have not had a known problem with pet theft here in Niles, however, it has occurred in surrounding areas. Remember, this information is to help pet owners be aware that something like this could occur because I know many dog owners would not even think something like this would happen to them. If you follow these precautions, the chances of you and your family pet becoming a victim are reduced. Just remember that all it takes is an instant for your pet to be stolen or for it to escape from your yard through a hole in the fence or an open gate.

If you have any questions or concerns about the dangers of leaving your dog tied or chained up outside, please call Niles Animal Control Officer Allison Cole at 847-588-6508. In the case of an emergency, please call 911.