Dogs as Protectors on the Road
By Julee Meltzer
Every now and then, someone will ask me for advice regarding the potential role that dogs play in terms of preventing crime. Since many RVers spend a fair amount of time in unfamiliar areas, the question of personal safety is a legitimate one. However, you should also be aware that the issue of crime and RVing is highly controversial given that any discussion inevitably turns into a heated debate about the potential value and associated consequences of carrying a firearm. In fact, in many of the online forums, the topic of firearms is no longer allowed due to the intensity and rancor that inevitably emerges. Fortunately, I'm here to talk about RVing with dogs so I'll limit most of the discussion to the role that dogs play in protecting RVs and RVers.
To begin, it's important to recognize two fundamental facts about RVing and crime. The first is that RVing is statistically a very safe activity. Robberies at campgrounds are almost unheard of and violence against RVers is extremely rare. Thus, most RVers will tell you that crime prevention is more of a precautionary strategy than a necessary one. As a full-time RVer, I can personally attest to the almost enviable level of safety that exists in the parks and campgrounds all across North America. The one incident that comes to mind was the theft of a small step-stool in a county park in Arizona. The victim of the crime, an elderly gentleman from Minnesota, took comfort in the fact that the steps were poorly made and thus represented a genuine hazard for the thieves. It reminds me of a car that I once owned that was so unreliable—I used to fantasize about it being stolen.
The second fact regarding RVing and crime is that nearly all criminal acts are unplanned. In other words, unless you're famous (or infamous), highly controversial, or conspicuously wealthy, it's highly unlikely that you'll be the intentional target of a carefully premeditated crime. As they say, when a politician is robbed, it's an assassination attempt. For everyone else—it's just a robbery. At any rate, for RVers, the most likely form of crime that we're ever apt to experience is theft. However, since the vast majority of crimes are unplanned, most thieves typically look for conspicuous targets with very little in the way of personal risk. In other words, thieves look for a good return on their investment with little in the way of surprises.
Hence, if you park your shiny new motorhome in a bad section of town, turn out all the lights, and drive away, you've created a very appealing target for people that specialize in vehicular robberies. However, when a dog in inserted into this hypothetical scenario, everything changes. For starters, most dogs bark when they feel threatened. Thus when a thief starts to pry open the door or window of an RV, the dog will inevitably begin to bark. Suddenly, the criminals are now dealing with a whole different situa...