This is the notorious beagle wandering instinct at play, plus the shock at being out in the world for the first time. Beckie Siers, foster coordinator of for Triangle Beagle Rescue and the foster mom of Stella, one of the dogs killed, said the group sent out volunteer search parties and is devastated. Stella’s family only had her for two days and were using a retractable leash and standard collar. “She got spooked, got out of her collar, and ran away,” Siers said. “Because they were using a retractable leash, they had no control over her when she panicked and she was easily able to slip her collar. The second beagle, Zoe, was adopted back in October. She escaped from her harness when her adopter was taking her out the front door to go to the dog park.”
A third beagle also escaped, but was safely recaptured and returned to the group, she says.
I just hate those retractable leashes. Since I have two of the same beagles I’m saddened, horrified and terrified that something similar might happen to them.
Beckie says after the first dog died they “immediately instituted a policy requiring fosters and adopters to use only 4-6 foot leashes (no retractable leashes) along with harnesses and collars. We have also encouraged adopters to “double clip” their dogs by clipping the leash to both their harness and their collar. That way, if they get out of one, they are still attached to the leash by the other. Unfortunately, we are unable to really enforce this policy once a beagle is adopted.”
My last dog Jolly taught me to be ever vigilant about the leash. Also, as a dog run manager I heard plenty of scary stories of dogs slipping out of collars, harnesses breaking and leashes dropping. Jolly could hear a scary sound or smell a squirrel that I would never perceive and start running. On the advice of his rescue group Mighty Mutts, I only used a choke collar. I also came up with a way to slip the rope leash through its handle to create a noose around my wrist. It’s like I was wearing a choke collar, too. It sometimes hurts. I’ve gotten bruises all over my hand. But I’ve never dropped the leash.
These beagles are even more wily; Huck could take Moxie’s collar off (at home). I got Moxie, who is much more difficult on the street, a Ruffwear harness. I became a shameless promoter of Ruffwear because their harness–which comes with two straps around the waist and a handle–helped us get Jolly up and down stairs and around the block in his last year. And now I use the handle on Moxie’s harness to pick her up without coddling her when she refuses to walk.
My excellent trainer Garrett Rosso from Village Dogworks turned me onto the Martingale collar. It’s like a choke collar in that it tightens when the dog pulls, but there’s a limit to how much it can choke so you don’t literally strangle your dog. Huck and Moxie also thwarted their first Martingale collars by chewing them. The obvious solution would be to get a metal one. Except America doesn’t seem to have that technology yet. Luckily Europe is ahead of us. I found Luvmydog, a friendly British seller of German all metal Martigale collars, which are working nicely.
One Facebook beagle lover wrote: “We have had 2 of them returned to our SPCA…the owners were overwhelmed with their obvious issues. They were just flown out to a santuary in Wyoming for research animals….It’s difficult enough to raise a pet that is “normal” but the Corapeake babies are more than special and it takes a special home for each and every one of them.” Another said: “These dogs are very traumatized and unpredictable. No one would intentionally put a dog at risk – they are not your average dog and I don’t think that anyone had a base knowledge of what was needed to keep them safe initially. Add to that a complete lack of survival skills and zero chance of coming to a stranger, and you have a situation that can easily lead to disaster.”
Oddly, in Europe there are entire rescue groups just devoted to former laboratory beagles. Germans call them “Laborbeaglehilfe.” I’ve written to them hoping for some advice, too. So far they say they just need more empathy.
For me I can’t see using two leashes each because I already literally get wrapped in the two leashes we already us on the 3-5 miles of daily city street walking. I feel most vulnerable when I have to take a leash off my wrist to untangle. But I’ll look for some kind of coupler. I live in terror of losing these guys.