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The Story That Never Ends: Pet Property Damage

We love our pets, but we don't always love the many ways they find to destroy and damage our homes. By Jim Tedford, Director of Animal Affairs and Alliances

Jim's love for animals has cost him many dollars over the years and not just in food and vet bills. Animals always find a way to "remodel" your home, too.

I am betting that since you’re reading the PetSafe blog, you have an above average interest in pets. Yep, not much gets past this razor-sharp mind! Having dedicated my entire life to improving the welfare of animals, I’m right there with you! I shamelessly love animals.

And there is where the dilemma begins… Is it possible to absolutely love animals, especially our constant companions like dogs and cats, and want to send them to the nearest shelter on occasion? I hope so. My pets add immeasurably to my life and they enrich me in ways that no mere human ever could. BUT, as much as I adore them, they occasionally do something unspeakable that makes me want to convert my house into one of those sterile, fur-free homes where it’s safe to own white furniture and white carpeting… and white shirts!

Many years ago I adopted a Jack Russell Terrier. I could probably stop the story right here… simply reading the words Jack Russell Terrier probably forced your mind to go places that are incomprehensible to most clear-thinking people, but are frequent stops for those of us who proudly call ourselves “ANIMAL PEOPLE.”

Jackson was a Jack Russell…a Jack Russell times ten. He started life as a New Orleans street dog and that somehow made him even tougher than the average JRT. Most of the time he was charming— even mesmerizing to watch. He was quick so it was a bit like watching a tennis match on fast forward, but he was so joyful and so much fun that his hyperactivity was endearing.

But his ability to wreak havoc and cause serious destruction was the stuff that keeps insurance agents up at night. Once he crawled through a third story window that was opened just a crack. Had it not been for the width of his pelvis, he would have plunged to his death. Instead he just dangled there barking till he was rescued. Jackson had no qualms about eating walls, doors, window frames, landscaping… you get my drift.

The word-count on this post would exceed all limits if I listed all the things he destroyed. He wasn’t consistent though. It was only some of the time, and the triggers were not always obvious. If only I had known back then what I know now about all the great training and behavioral enrichment products offered by PetSafe… Years ago a friend who lived in an apartment adopted a boxer puppy. The kitchen walls of the apartment were covered in outdated (and offensive) wallpaper – one of those patterns that was unattractive even when it was new. He decided to corral the puppy in the kitchen with a baby gate. Good plan, right? Wrong.

Rather than chewing through the gate, she created her own little doggie door by chewing an escape route through the kitchen wall. No big deal…a drywall patch (yep, I know how to do that) and some paint will take care of it, right? Wrong, again… how does one patch 20-year-old wallpaper? The answer… one does NOT. One replaces the wallpaper in the entire kitchen if one wants any hope of a return on that security deposit! Dogs can ruin a garden in a flash.

Sam recently chewed through a flower bed in Jim's front yard. Do you have the landscaper on speed dial yet?

Just last weekend, our yellow Lab, Sam, decided the air conditioning in the house was not good enough…he needed a hole in the gorgeous, pampered, mature flower bed right outside the front door. I could go on for days… Over the years, we’ve had lots of wonderful animals, many of whom have caused extraordinary property damage.

As the old cliché goes, “necessity is the mother of invention.” Cats scratch stuff and regardless of how much you spend on scratching posts, they often prefer door frames. Dogs like to dig. If the biggest price I have to pay for pet ownership is that I have to learn how to use a miter saw to repair chewed/scratched/soiled moldings or keep a paint brush handy for grease spots on the walls or strategically replace throw pillows to cover “the spot” on the sofa… it’s a price I’ll gladly pay.

Post your best “property damage horror story” and tell us how you “fixed” it! This could turn into a fun game of one-upmanship!


ABOUT JIM Jim Tedford serves as PetSafe’s Director of Animal Affairs and Alliances. Working on the front line of animal welfare for over 20 years, Jim has served as CEO for organizations in New York, Louisiana and Tennessee. Prior to joining PetSafe, Jim provided marketing and fundraising services to animal welfare organizations nationwide. Jim holds a degree in animal science from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Jim and his wife Ann share their “empty nest” in the Smoky Mountains with adopted dogs Bodie, Sam, and Lila and a formerly homeless macaw, Gipper.

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I just went away to Bridgeport connecticut for the weekend with my husband and daughter. We adopted a dog in April and have an older dog as well. I prepared the house picking up all things off the floor wrapping the oriental rug in tarps in case of accident and anything that maybe potentially dangerous.I left my room open with A/C and made the bed comfortable for them with their favorite blankets. My older dog would not hurt a fly or chew anything but i wanted to be careful for the new one(7 months old) I had friends in and out all day and night. Make a long story short i came home to my sleep number bed eaten all the way to the core!! I went in with patches, gorilla glue and Duct tape and started mending worked ok but is now leaking air so back at it i go!! I still love all my pups though!:)

I have a great “pet property damage horror story.” My husband and I purchased our first house together and brought our Treeing Walker Coonhound “Murry” to his new home. We were in the home for approximately 5 days when I got a call from my friend, who was there to let the cable man in, telling me that my house was under about 3 inches of water. When I got home, water was everywhere, every room was ruined. After cleaning up we found that my loving Murry had decided that the floors needed cleaned and chewed a water line in the kitchen. Needless to say an insurance claim was made less than a week of moving into the home. Although I was mad about it at the time, I look back now and I kind of have to thank Murry, I wasn’t too thrilled with the flooring when I moved in but just assumed we would eventually replace it. Murry got to that before we could even unpack all our stuff.

Oh Tracey! Our pups certainly know how to help us sleep at night, don’t that? :)

Andrea, wow!! That is definitely a horror story. I hope you, your husband, and Murry are all happy in your home now.

Wow! I am so glad I found this blog. I am ever happier to find out that my “Chompy”, a 1 1/2 year-old Rottweiler/Lab Retriever mix is not the only “hurricane” in doggy world.
I have four wonderful, adorable large dogs. Chompy, is the largest and the most mischievous. We named him “Chompy” because he loves to chew stuff all the time. Forget pet toys. Human’s stuff is more fun!
He chewed my cell phone while I was asleep. Great, I didnt like the model and gave me an excuse to get a new one. He and one of his pals, Booggie, my female 2 1/2 year old Pittie, managed to chew off two whole leather couches and are still working on the love seat. It’s OK. We’re moving soon to a house (for them especially) so, less stuff to move!  And, last but not least, recently Chompy managed to get into my purse, unzip my wallet somehow, and take out all my credit and other cards, including DL, and have fun leaving his large teeth marks in all of them! I guess he figured he needed to provide me with something to remember him by when I am away from home shopping or doing something else. I figured, they are not different from son when he was two years old: Curious, playful, and having fun destroying stuff. Materials things can always be replaced and, if not, we won’t take them with us on our final journey. They are not replaceable any more than a child is.  So, they’ve taught me to be patient, roll with the punches, discern what is more valuable to me, and not sweat the small stuff, among other valuable life lessons. What about yours?

Barb, Chompy sounds like he loves his fun. It really is fascinating how much our pets can teach us. Emma and I definitely have our moments of frustration, but they are so worth all the trouble. Thanks for reading!

[...] make our lives rich in love but they can also make us poor in our pockets. The many needs that our pets have can come with a high price tag when you add up all of your pet [...]

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