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Safety animals: more than dogs

After retiring from law enforcement, I started a private investigations and physical security consulting business out of my Portland, Oregon home. The security consulting part of my business is varied and generally involves assessing security vulnerabilities, reviewing or developing security procedures, recommending specific security improvements, and providing security training.

Most of my clients are small and medium-sized companies, but sometimes I am hired by individuals. Many of these people live in semi-rural areas adjacent to cities. They are often retired or commute into town during the workweek and tend their “hobby farms” in the evenings and on weekends. Usually your property has a barn of some kind, some outbuildings, some farm machinery, and often you have a couple of horses, a few chickens, and maybe a goat or two.

The safety of these semi-rural areas is a growing concern. According to the FBI, overall urban crime has declined steadily across the country, but rural crime, especially property crime, is on the rise. Trespassing, burglary, and burglary are major concerns for rural landlords and residents, as these isolated rural areas are sometimes seen by criminals as easy marks. These semi-rural areas also sometimes attract drug users seeking secluded places to use drugs and other miscellaneous criminals.

The truth is that, due to their relative isolation and the fact that many rural residents have traditionally not given much thought to safety, many of these rural areas are easy for criminals to identify. Fortunately, there are some basic and relatively inexpensive things that rural residents and owners can do to make themselves and their properties safer.

Practical security measures

After conducting a comprehensive safety risk assessment, I often recommend that rural property owners take steps to limit the number of roads and footpaths that enter the property. External lighting around susceptible areas is also a good idea, as blue light is usually more effective than lighting with regular white light.

With the evolution of security technology, effective GPS and alarm systems are becoming more profitable. I often recommend perimeter alarms that can detect intruders at the earliest point of handover. Hidden GPS devices inside high-value properties like tractors, trailers, and ATVs are also a good idea. While this may not prevent theft, it will go a long way in recovering stolen property and perhaps even aiding in the capture of the perpetrators.

Animals for safety

In ancient times, animals of almost all kinds were used to help protect people and property. Big cats, elephants, alligators, and even poisonous snakes have been used to protect and secure property!

We all know about watchdogs. Throughout the world, dogs are commonly used for security purposes. But have you heard of guardian monkeys? Not many people in the United States have monkeys, but in India the authorities used Langur monkeys to help secure the 2010 Commonwealth Games. These monkeys have aggressive personalities but have excellent eyesight and are highly trainable. And, of late, the US military even used rats to sniff out bombs!

Effective security can sometimes be very basic

Sometimes I get very basic. On one occasion, as part of an overall safety strategy, I recommended that owners purchase a flock of geese. Yes, you read that right! They already had a few chickens running around so adding a few geese wouldn’t be a big deal with feeding or housing. And, a small herd of geese serves as a very effective “early warning system”.

For a security consultant in today’s modern high-tech world, recommending geese as an early warning system may seem a bit strange, but in a rural or semi-rural setting it makes simple and practical sense. Geese, like swans, are very territorial and have been used as “watchdogs” since Roman antiquity. They have a keen sense of smell and eyes that seem to see almost everything.

When something, man or beast, enters their space, they can become quite aggressive. They make a lot of noise and are known to “attack” anything that enters “their space”. Simply put, intruders dislike noise and commotion and will often flee when detected. If an intruder does not flee, the horn and the commotion of a flock of agitated geese can alert the homeowner, who can then take immediate action to protect himself and repel the intruder (i.e. arm himself, make sure the doors to the house house are closed, turn on lights, etc.).

All physical security measures must be practical and cost-effective.

When implementing physical security measures, there must be a balance between the likelihood of criminal activity and the cost of protecting a given target. For example, it makes no practical sense to spend a million dollars on a security system that protects something worth as little as $ 50,000.

Layered security (also sometimes called “concentric security rings”) is a well-established security strategy. Its basic premise is that before an intruder can hit a target, the intruder must overcome multiple layers of security (i.e. gates, locked doors, lighted areas, alarm systems, and yes … even flocks of geese). Even in today’s modern high-tech world, low-tech security strategies augmented with high-tech can often be an inexpensive and effective way to protect people and property. And, YES, animals like geese can sometimes be an important part of an overall safety strategy.

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