Three years ago we moved from a home with a large fenced-in yard to a condominium. While the move was great for us (no more yard work!) it was not so good for our two dogs Kahlua & Bailey and kitty Sambuca.
In an effort to give our fur kids the freedom they had always known, we invested in an electric pet fence system. Even though we weren’t sure how well it would work to keep our little escape artists in the yard and worried about the shock hurting them, we thought we’d give it a try.
We buried the electric pet fencing wire discretely around the property even running it up the siding to keep the cat from climbing over it by hopping up on the furniture. Then according to the instructions we put out orange flags along the line perimeter and with the electronic collar on, we walked each of our babies around the area on a leash so they could learn where the boundaries were. After a couple weeks of training we felt comfortable enough to let them roam around unsupervised while we were home. A couple of months later we started trusting them to go in and out while we slept. This decision is one that I will regret for the rest of my life.
A year after the move on an early fall morning in October, Kahlua ventured out to use the bathroom. When we woke it was only a matter of minutes before I realized that my coffee helper wasn’t by my side. In a panic Ryan and I hurried around the house, then on outside calling for him without response. Thinking that he must have been rescued by the animal police we hoped into the car stopping along the way to see if any neighbors had seen our little auburn colored guy roaming around. They had not.
The 20 minute drive to the county animal shelter was the most nerve wrecking I have ever experienced. We had rescued Kahlua from a shelter seven years earlier. Behind those walls he was the most petrified little dog I’d ever seen. I didn’t want him to ever have to experience that ever again. We rushed through the doors and asked if they had picked up a small brown husky that morning. They had, but not the way we had hoped.
On the side of the road at an intersection only one block from our home the patrol car picked up our baby who had been struck by a car and left to die. In the back room we were escorted in to see our puppy for the last time before having his remains cremated. The image of his cold, lifeless body still brings tears to my eyes and breaks my heart even two years later. He was the most intelligent, gentle, amazing dog I have ever had in my life and his death left a huge hole in my heart. Not having human children, Kahlua was and will always be my baby.
The electric pet fence is still up on our property but now it serves to allow Bailey and Sambuca freedom to roam without a leash while we watch their every move. They are no longer allowed to go in and out unattended. Even if we were to move out into the middle of nowhere, I will never again trust the electric pet fence to do as advertised. Once the batteries in the animals collar dies any boundary training is soon forgotten. Even scarier, the batteries in Kahlua’s collar were still working when he made his way out of the yard. Proof that despite the temporary zap the collar gives off, it is not enough to deter escape all the time.
I can not blame the manufacturer of the electric pet fence for the death of my dog. The truth is I should never have been naive enough to trust that the product would work all the time. But I write this today to warn other pet owners to beware of the limitations of the electric fence. It’s too easy to be lulled into a false sense of security and when the lives of your babies are at stake you can not be too careful in their care.
More over I’m writing this tonight to pay tribute to a wonderful companion who needless lost his life two years ago this week. We miss you Kahlua!