Wednesday, January 9, 2013

How to protect your dog (and your stuff!) at the dog park

Last Thursday I took Lulu over to Dr. Phillips dog park. I was surprised to find window glass on the ground in the spot I parked in.


On Saturday I learned why.

Park people brought around slips of paper with crime prevention suggestions and urged people to lock up their valuables in their car.

Apparently there have been a number of car break-ins at Orange County's parks, In fact, there was a break-in at Dr. Phillips Park that Saturday morning before I got there.

Thieves are breaking into cars at parks across Central Florida, but especially at presumably affluent parks. They are looking for purses and personal items like GPS systems and iPods. People often leave these sorts of things in the car because they can be cumbersome to carry at a park -- especially if you're with your dog or or kids.

Here's what the slip of paper from the Orange County Sheriff's Office Crime Prevention Unit says to do:
  • Keep all valuables out of plain view
  • Lock all automobile doors and windows
  • Always use your anti-theft device
  • Always let a family member or close friend know your plans and when you will return
  • Always have a charged cell phone with you
Seems like common sense, but you would be surprised.

I would also add to the list:
  • Take only the most basic items with you when you come to the park, which are easily storeable in pockets or a small bag
  • Keep an eye on your dog at all times
 Why watch your dog? Also seems like a no-brainer. But parks are big, and when there are lots of dogs and people at the parks, you can't trust who is there. I am often amazed how many people walk into dog park areas who do not have dogs. Some are well-meaninged, but you just don't know.

This young stranger is petting Lulu, to Lulu's joy. But I'm not far behind.

People often ask why I follow Lulu all over the park. I don't tell them I don't trust them, but that's the reason. And with dog-nappings on the rise across the country, I take no chances. 

Here are some things I suggest:
  • Keep the leash handy. Many people hang it up on the fence of the park. But if you need to extract the dog quickly, you need it nearby.
  • Keep the leash short. Most parks require you keep the dog on a six-foot leash outside off the off-leash area. But make sure the dog doesn't get too far ahead of you, especially if you are using one of those extendable leashes. It's a lot easier for someone to get away with your dog.
  • Don't go anywhere alone that's dark or not well-lit, even with your dog. Parks can have lots of wooded areas and bushes. Who is lurking behind them?
  • Take pictures of your dog at the park. It's the last place you may see the dog. Not only does it give you the latest pictures of your dog, but police may be able to use those pictures to help find possible witnesses -- even suspects.  
  • Never be too far away. Some people let the dog loose, and sit and do homework or talk on the phone. But where is the dog? Do you know?
  • Mind every entrance. Dr. Phillips Dog Park only has one entrance into each off-leash area. But that's not the case for every park. Sanford's Paw Park, for instance, has at least three entrances, with a parking lot at each. That's a lot of entrances to watch.
  • Make sure your microchip info is up-to-date.
American Dog magazine offers some more great tips to protect your dog at home in 2013. Click the link for more.

24 comments :

  1. How unfortunate! Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Woof! Woof! That's terrible. Golden Thanks for the reminders. Happy Wednesday. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

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  3. Yes, definitely only take the necessary items to the dog park. People are busy watching the dogs and not their cars. Thanks for the reminder.

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  4. Fantastic tips and I too get amazed on how many people do not pay attention to their dog. I guess having a wandering sniffing Beagle who is very friendly and a thief (yes she will go into your handbag and take things) I always keep an eye on Maggie.

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    1. Hee hee, it's true we beagle owners have more to watch!

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  5. If I saw glass in the parking lot that would have been it for me. As it is I would never take Dakota to an "off-leash" park. My vet strongly advises against it as well. Many dogs that go to those parks aren't vaccinated which is hard for those of us like yourself who are responsible pet owners. To me and my vet, off-leash parks are disasters waiting to happen.

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    1. But to be fair, Caren, so is walking down the street with your dog. I had a neighbor's dog jump through a screen to get to Lulu today. Fortunately neither dog is violent and they just want to meet. I disagree with your vet. For one thing, if your dog is vaccinated it shouldn't be an issue. For another, if you're watching you can stop possible problems before they start. I've also been to several dog parks around Central Florida without any problems. For Lulu it's a great release, since we don't have a backyard. My trainer recommends it, in fact, to help her get better at socializing.

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  6. Thanks for the info. It is the reality of our times. Have a Happy Wednesday!

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  7. Great advice, it's such a shame our humans have to be so wary! :(

    Big wags to all,

    Your pal Snoopy :)

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  8. Good advice to remember, no matter where you are.

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  9. Thanks for the advice. Such a great reminder. Happy Wordless Wednesday!

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  10. Can't wait to meet you and these are great tips. Happy BlogPaws Wordless Wednesday!

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    1. I know I'm so excited. I just found out Lulu can come to the Expo! And I have been getting replies to all my emails to these exhibitors. And my new business cards are coming! So excited.

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  11. You'd think the thieves would be afraid some dog would take a 'bite' out of crime. I never (intentionally) leave stuff in my car. It's never a good idea no matter where you go.

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    1. These tips from the sheriff's office are pretty much the same ones they use for the mall at Christmas time. It's common sense, but people don't have a lot of that these days, and criminals exploit that.

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  12. Years of leaving the vehicle at hiking trail heads for hours on end has taught me...don't bring anything I don't want to carry on the trail and never leave anything visible through the windows...You've offered good advice here

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    1. I figure if anyone here knows about this it's you. ;)

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  13. Good advice here! Thanks for sharing it!

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  14. Hey Lulu, Jet here.

    I'm so sorry you experienced this. Unfortunately, we did too when we went to Tropical Park. http://heyitsjethere.wordpress.com/2012/11/25/our-twelfth-black-white-sunday-like-a-pig-in-mud/ Excellent advice, thank you.

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  15. Great information and thank you for stopping by our blog today! Purrs from the Zee/Zoey gang

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  16. The nearest dog part is about 4 hours away for us, but these are wonderful safety tips!

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  17. I've been hearing a lot more about dogs being stolen recently, so it pays to be careful.

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  18. Great advice Christie!

    Happy Wordless Wednesday - I'm late as usual!

    ~Lyvonne (letsbepets.com)

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