Jacqui Hames Monthly Blog - February
It’s often said that if you have a dog then you don’t need a security system. Whilst that may be true if you have a wild snarling beast patrolling your garden, (not a good idea as you could well end up being prosecuted yourself) I’m afraid our furry friends are not always reliable when it comes to keeping your home secured. The idea that a few barks from your cute and cuddly Cockapoo will ward off a Burglar intent on breaking in, is sadly misplaced.
Having said that, it may well put off an opportunist who is trying to choose between your house and your neighbours (sorry about that neighbours), so by all means it can be useful. But many criminals are not put off that easily - particularly as some owners leave their back doors open in order for their cherished pet to pop in and out of the garden during the day. Burglars are dog owners too and know exactly how to lure a playful pooch out of their way.
Sadly dogs are sometimes also the target of burglars. With popular breeds costing anything from £800 upwards, this type of theft is sadly on the increase. In 2016 it is estimated that well over 2,000 dogs were stolen from homes and gardens, and this number seems to be on the increase. There are currently huge posters all over my neighbourhood asking for help to trace a terrier stolen from his home in the next village. Clearly the owners are absolutely devastated.
The risk of burglary is one we all share. Many years ago my home was attacked by burglars, and I’m afraid I too thought that the presence of my Golden Retriever would be enough to put them off. Don’t get me wrong, Maddison was a reasonably large dog with a properly big woof that could be heard a couple of doors down the street when he was really fed up. But he did love people, pretty much anyone who came to the house was welcomed with a very waggy tail and a slobbery lick.
Our home had been left secured whilst we were at work and the children at school, and after the dog walker had taken him out for an hour long romp, she had left him in the kitchen to gently steam away on his bed. Anyone with dogs will know exactly what I mean!
I arrived home from work to find the back door had been smashed to smithereens, the house had been completely trashed with mud all over carpets and walls, upstairs and down. It was eerily quiet. Where was Maddison? Eventually I found him cowering underneath the dining room table, very very quiet and shaken. It took a lot of coaxing but eventually he came out. A quick check over revealed no injuries and he did not appear to have been drugged, but something had really frightened him and it was several days before he returned to anything like his old self. I am just grateful that they did not steal him away, along with my jewellery, cash, credit cards, music centre (well it was a long time ago) TV etc. The burglars were actually caught later that night trying to use my credit card in a shop in West London, although sadly most of our possessions were already sold-on or dumped out of the window of a car travelling along the M25 - nice. They were drug addicts who ended up in prison as ours was the last of a long spree of burglaries committed under the influence of mind altering substances. We still do not know what they did to Maddison, I’m not sure I want to.
So whilst having a dog can be a useful deterrent I would not rely totally on getting a burglar who is scared of them. The other problem can often be that homeowners don’t want to get an alarm, or worse have one but don’t set it, for fear their dog will set it off by mistake - so what’s the point of having one in the first place.
Thankfully technology has moved on immeasurably since I was burgled, and alarms nowadays have pet friendly PIR sensors allowing you flexibility about which zones in your home are covered by the alarm and therefore reducing the chances of a false activations - which believe me really upsets the local constabulary.
So maybe the answer is to have both. I’ve had pets all my life and cannot imagine having a home without one. I currently share my life with another Goldie called Maggie May. But for me they need just as much protection as my other precious belongings, that slobbery greeting and waggy tail are almost all I need at the end of a long busy day, to lift my spirits and keep me company while steel myself for the next joyful episode of Eastenders.
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