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Unleashed on a Lost Cause PDF Print E-mail
Written by Janet Goodman, BT Contributor   
April 2020

There’s no reason for a dog to get loose

Ibigstock-Lost-Dog-Wayward-Hound-Is-Loo-344621233t makes me crazy to see a dog running loose in a neighborhood. The situation is so preventable.

Sometimes you’ve just got to vent to keep your sanity. So here’s my diatribe.

I have joined several Facebook groups that feature local lost-and-found pets. These are excellent tools to use when searching for a lost pet or its owner. Miami Lost and Found Pets, Pooches in the Shores, and North Miami/North Miami Beach, FL Lost & Found Pets feature daily postings of pets, especially dogs.

Sometimes I see updates on pets who’ve been reunited with their owners, and heart emojis follow. Those are the lucky ones.

Social media sites Pawboost and Nextdoor are also full of lost-and-found postings, but I’ve noticed that I’m getting increasingly irritated, frustrated, and even angry by them. Why, oh, why are there unaccompanied dogs on the streets of Miami and its surrounding communities? Why aren’t dog owners more careful? Are the dogs lost? Abandoned? Let out by owners who think their dogs should be running free? Unfortunately, the answer is “all the above.”

In Florida, people who abandon pets are now subject to a first-degree misdemeanor charge punishable by one year in prison and/or a $1000 fine. This may stop some folks from dumping animals in Homestead, the Everglades, the Redland, and elsewhere in Miami. Reasons they give for leaving their dogs to fend for themselves include: “I’m moving to a place where I can’t have a dog.” “I can’t afford a dog.” “My dog is peeing in the house.” “My dog is sick.” “My dog is pregnant.” “He’ll be killed if I take him to a shelter.”

Okay, that’s enough. I don’t need to hear more ridiculous defenses. Abandoners are either too lazy, too stupid, or too heartless to take the pet to a shelter or to find a home for it. They deserve to be taken in front of a judge and should never be allowed to have another pet, because they’ll do it again.

What about people who let their dogs run free? They might be more trainable than abandoners. My theory is they’ve been brought up with family pets running around the neighborhood. Their parents did it and so did their grandparents. It’s acceptable -- everybody does it. More often than not, they grew up in the countryside with fewer homes and wide-open spaces for animals to roam. But in the city, this is not smart behavior. Dogs on the street get hit by cars, attacked by other loose dogs, or found by people who end up keeping the dogs. Run-free-ers can come around to the notion that it’s not safe or neighborly to open the door and let a dog out to explore on his own. There’s hope for them.

The lost dog crowd is more complicated because the reasons for dogs getting lost are many, but I believe these people can learn to prevent losses or at least make it easier to be reunited with their dogs. Don’t bank on lost pets winding up at Animal Services. They can be on the streets for days, weeks, or more.

Keep their tags and microchip information updated with current address and cell phone number. A collar should be on the dog at all times.

Never walk a dog with a loose collar that they can back out of. Always walk a dog on a leash -- it is the law.

Most lost dogs have had a history of getting out of a fenced-in yard. If your dog is a known escape artist, don’t let it outside unattended.

If your dog lives in the backyard (ugh!), at least bring him inside if storms are in the forecast. Frightened dogs tend to run away.

Check backyard fence gates before letting out the dog. Lawn services and repairmen often leave gates open, allowing dogs to get out.

Don’t drive with the car window down far enough for a dog to pull itself out.

Many dogs get lost after running out the front door. Train your dog not to dart through an open door.

Always check fence lines for holes and gaps. Escape artists are skilled at getting out of the smallest of spaces. I constantly see lost-and-found postings about Chihuahuas and Yorkshire terriers that have probably slipped out a tiny gap in the fencing.

Fence climbers may need six-foot chain-link fencing, instead of wooden privacy fencing, which has ladder-like bracing on the inside of the fence.

I don’t own escape artists, but as a precaution I’m always with my dogs when they’re out in the backyard. Prevention goes a long way when it comes to not losing a pet.

 

Janet Goodman is a Miami Shores-based dog trainer and principal of Good Dog Bad Dog Inc. Contact her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

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