Dog or Burglar Alarm: Which Is Better?

A reader of E-mailed the following comment: “I am a single woman and I am going to get a dog for protection. I think it is the best choice.” Many experts feel that a simple burglar alarm is far safer, less expensive and better protection than a dog. When Inside Edition tested several dogs of various breeds, none of which were trained as guard dogs, most of them (including a pit bull) ran for cover during a simulated home invasion. See Dogs Tested to See Whether They’d Defend Owner During Home Invasion. There are additional reasons to get an alarm rather than a dog to guard your residence:

  • Burglars often steal or even kill the dogs. 
  • An alarm system will also provide protection against fire. 
  • A really good alarm system can be hooked into the police department, fire department and a security company, all of which will send professional people to your home in the event of a problem. 
  • Most dramatically, out of 177 people killed by dogs, only 1 was a burglar, but 7 out of 10 were kids.

A burglar alarm can involve only a one-time cost, although alarms that make phone calls have monthly fees and possibly per-use fees too. Dogs have to be fed and taken to the veterinarian. Just as important, you have to spend time with your dog every day, but not your burglar alarm.

A burglar alarm presents no possibility of financial ruin or career ruin, but a dog does. If your dog bites someone on the face, the losses can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Your insurance might not be sufficient to cover such losses. In fact, some people who own dogs do not have insurance at all — which is irresponsible, especially when considering that a dog bite victim will usually be a friend or family member.

If faced with having to pay a large amount of damages out of your own pocket, you have only two choices, both of which are life-changing:

  • You either will declare bankruptcy, or you will have to pay off a judgment for what might be the rest of your life. 
  • In both cases, you will be further impacted because people who declare bankruptcy and have large judgments against them cannot borrow money easily (or at all), cannot get funding to start companies, and frequently are not promoted because of doubts about how they behaved or handled themselves in the past.

If you are going to use a dog for “protection,” ask yourself whether it is reasonable to think that these risks are worth it. Many don’t believe they are, but the choice is yours.