Most of you have probably already heard that London was the latest place to be attacked by terrorism over the weekend. While terrorism around the world is a terrible and shocking thing, this attack happened less than 8 minutes from the City Dog Expert HQ so became a little more personal than most. What was even more shocking than the proximity was that myself and the dogs should have been at London Bridge (the place of the attack) and Borough Market at the exact time the attacks happened. Many of you that follow us on instagram and snapchat have seen many videos of us walking through the market and over the bridge.
However on Saturday night, I was feeling lazy and decided to go to the local park with the dogs instead of walking across the bridge. Luck? Divine Intervention? who knows. But I think my lucky stars that we were not there.
The tragic event did get me thinking as to what I would do if I had been there with my dogs and how I would have kept them safe.
While there is plenty of information online about how to stay safe as a human, I could not find anything that addressed keeping pets safe should we be within proximity to an attack (terrorist, gunman or otherwise) so we decided to write a few recommendations to increase safety. Please add more ideas in the comments section and I will update this post as often as I can.
Make Sure Your Pet Has ID
This goes without saying but make sure your pets have some form of easily identifiable ID on their collar or harness. This is not only in case you get separated from your pets, but also in case something happens to you and your pets are the only way to identify you (I am so sorry, I can’t even believe I had to write that sentence).
Having an ID tag means that should someone find your dog, they can contact you easily without having to take your pet to the vets to be scanned. In a terrorist attack, the priority will not be taking pets to the vet.
I would recommend having an ID tag with a QR code with multiple emergency contact numbers (not just yours)
73% of people that survived attacks (whether terrorist or other) did so by running away from the scene. This statistic would most likely apply to your pet also. Making sure your dog is on lead and able to run away should an incident occur near you greatly improves your chance of survival. As someone with an elderly dog who is incapable of running long distances, my friends on facebook suggested having a bag or sling that I could fit him into so I could run with him.
If something should happen to you and your get hurt, don’t be scared to drop the lead and let your dog run away from the scene. This thought petrified me as I would be so worried the dogs would be trampled or their leads caught in something. However, my expert friends reassured me that most people are good and will help the dogs if they see them fleeing a scene. Having a lead on them makes them easier to be caught should a stranger want to help them. I would highly recommend having your dog on a harness while out so that it reduces the risk of choking on a collar should the dog lead get caught on anything.
No matter what country you are in, hiding is recommended as the second most important thing you can do to prevent being attacked should anything happen near you. It is especially important to be able to hide somewhere safely and quietly. This is advice for your dog also.
If you have a big dog (like our new Saluki), teach your dog to lay down or sit in a cramped position. Or to even hug your body to stay nice and close to you but also hidden well.
Our friends at MonteCristo Travels messaged me to let me know that they train their chihuahua Monte to be quiet on command. This could potentially save yours and your dogs life should you be hiding.
In an attack, humans are the target rather than dogs so if your dog is not being quiet or there isn’t space in your hide out, let your dogs loose.
Only once you are safe should you call the police or authorities. The police will not be prioritizing pets when rescuing people, however mentioning to them on the phone that you are with your dog(s) may help. I can’t imagine it will harm in any way. Make sure you are able to secure the dogs somehow should you be separated from them by the police.
Fighting your attacker is officially listed as a last resort. When with your pets, you need to make sure they are secure and away from any confrontation. I always have a carabiner clip attached to my dog leads so that I can tie the dogs up if needed. Do not try and fight your attacker with your pets. Keep them safely away. Carry a spare dog lead on your dog walks (I always have one round my neck) to use to hit someone. If pepper spray or bear spray is legal in your country, take it out with you to protect yourself (It is not legal in the UK). Use a compressed air or sound horn to stun your attacker. All these things are small enough to carry in your dog walking bag or back pocket.
Train Your Dog
Practice, practice practice.
The more this becomes second nature to your dog, the more prepared you and your dog will be should you be in close proximity to an attack or attacker.
Practice running to heel with your dogs (both on and off lead), practice being quiet on command, practice emergency stops and downs and sits should you need to hide in a situation.
However scary this seems, the chances of being near a terrorist attack are slim but these tips could save yours and your dogs life should you be unfortunate enough to be close to one.
Always stay safe guys and there is no harm in being prepared