Before you run out and buy specialized vests, collars, or other dog-based devices to protect them from nearby predators, you should first investigate why predators are hanging around.
Two separate inventions – one a vest with short rubber spikes and a matching collar (and the ability to remotely shock anything touching the vest), and the other with long plastic spikes – were recently shared with The Fur-Bearers by supporters. Both of these devices – and others like them – are designed to protect pets (primarily dogs) from coyote attacks.
The concept of spike collars is not new – Livestock Guardian Dogs, who protect herds of sheep or other farmed animals from predators are sometimes equipped with such items. These large dogs were bred for hundreds of years specifically for the role of guardian, however, and are not pets.
Sadly, these items won’t stop a predator from potentially injuring a pet – and it doesn’t address the underlying conditions that lead to a situation where a predator would want to injure a pet.
In most cases where pets have been injured by predators – be it coyotes, wolves, birds of prey, or even neighbourhood cats – there are often a common set of circumstances preceding any such conflict:
- Food resources are made available to the predator, intentionally or unintentionally (spilled bird seed, direct feeding of wildlife, outdoor pet food, etc.)
- Pets are unsupervised or off leash in an area where wildlife frequents
- Changes to the landscape (new roads, construction, development)
- Lack of resources or education to neighbours on local wildlife and attractants
If these four major circumstances are investigated and corrected, there likely wouldn’t be a need for any protective wear for pets. It can be difficult, especially after a friend or neighbour loses a pet, to talk about co-existence.
But the simple fact is wild animals are responding the to environment around them – and we have the single biggest influence on that environment. Simple changes by people can make living with wildlife safe for everyone.