Personal Safety and Defense Habits That Work
Keeping you and your companion animal safe when you're out and about is a process of awareness. When criminals are about, they are looking for easy targets, with something of value in return for the chance they are willing to take.
Don't be an easy target.
- Consider where you want to take your companion. Don't romanticize the situation. If it's a large public place full of unknowns and masses of people (a big farmer's market). Your odds of trouble just went up. If it's a Companion Animal Event...the odds are low.
- Stop being so nice. It is the nature of kind people to look for the best in others. We may have a moment where we "feel" like something is off about a person, but we want to be nice. Trust the feeling. It's powerful, and most often correct. If you are out alone or with your companion, and someone, or something doesn't feel right, disengage and leave. No goodbyes, no "I'm sorry". Just go.
- "Can I pet your (fill in the blank)? " No. If you don't know them, neither does your companion.
- "I hear those are expensive to buy." Thieves sometimes take the tack of "passerby friendly" to get information and to test you as a possible target. Again, if it's a stranger and you're "feeling" goes bad, don't answer. You don't have to answer. Walk away. If followed and pressed; own your space, control and block and tell this person to "Back Off." The longer he takes to get it, the louder you get. It won't last long. You are loud and difficult now. You also are no longer an easy target.
- It's okay to tell someone you do not want to talk to them.
- Stay aware of your surroundings. Wear one earbud, rather than both. Leave your cellphone in a pocket. Scrolling and walking sends the message you are not paying attention to your surroundings. Own your space. There are two types of space. Personal and Casual. Unless they are family or friends, no one needs to be closer than your mailman gets.
- When walking around with your bird, or puppy, or the companion you love do it with purpose, intent and a keen look on your face. No snuggly-wuggly business here. That's for arrival at the park. In route, portray yourself as aware. You want to be a problem for target seekers.
Let's talk practical daily lifestyle safety in public.
- Harness or leash your companion. If your companion is mobile for you, he's mobile for a thief. This isn't a deterrent per say. Purse snatchers are violent when a purse is anchored. BUT the harness just made your bird difficult. Hold the leash or harness with a firm control. Use a red leash or harness. Let them see just how tied to you they are, send the message you aren't an easy target.
- Let your awareness sensitivity match the level of risk. The higher the risk, the less you will tolerate.
- Microchip your Companion. A pet thief will try to sell your companion to a pet store, breeder, or a known buyer. The odds are better a vet or animal control will find that chip and run it. This is a passive act, but every small choice can yield big results.
- Never pass your companion to a stranger. Period. I'd rather be considered a jerk than be in mourning. That stranger may not be the thief, but a thief is watching and sees an easy target, or it's a bait and switch. The initial person is helping the thief by getting separation from you, then in some friendly "Oh, wow." moment passes your companion to the real thief.
- Change your routes and times. If you and your dog love to visit places, or walks...change when and where you go, often. Much like a single runner or a single person should never establish strong easily read routines, neither should you and your companion.
This is a short list of powerful steps you can implement. These are my opinions based on personal training and experiences. Don't consider this the be all-end all of taking care of yourself and your companion animal.