Reporter’s Notebook

Staying safe in Big Horn County
Thursday, November 21, 2019

At one time or another we all have faced the anxiety of worrying about a breakin, whether it be a home break-in, a vehicle break-in, and the subsequential theft that will most likely happen after the break-in.

If we haven’t personally experienced it ourselves, we surely know of someone who has fallen victim of the rising crime in our community.

The unpredictability of violent drug and alcohol users, whether inebriated or in a belligerent state of “coming-down” or sobering up, has added to the increasing volume of house break-ins, thefts, and home invasions. It is almost imperative to take personal safety and home security precautions to keep yourself and your property protected.

No one should have to deal with the constant worry of wondering if their home and family are secure.

In an effort to promote personal safety and home security in these difficult and chaotic times in Big Horn County here are a few personal tips I would recommend.

Enroll in a self-defense class: Human trafficking and kidnappings are at an all-time high. Reflect back on the recent tragedies of the poor souls who have fallen victim to kidnapping and sometimes even murder. The best way to have a fighting chance at not becoming a part of that unfortunate statistic is to have the proper know-how on how to protect yourself if no one around to help. There are many local programs to help you get connected to a personal safety course.

Carry some sort of assailant repellent: One common way to prevent a potential assailant is to always have some sort of hand-held self-defense device. Whether it is a device that specializes in electro-shock defense or an eye-scorching spray, this is one way to deflect an assault before it happens.

Install some form of security video system around your property: It is very hard to deny allegations when there is clear photographic or video evidence of the suspect in the act. There are very affordable homedefense systems available for the general public; one of the most popular (and affordable!) is the Ring Alarm Security Kit. Starting at only $200, this system has a camera built into any common doorbell and can record someone in the act of a home invasion. The Ring system also has an app that most common smartphones can download. The user can access a live feed to their home with a built-in microphone to speak through the cameras speakers. Seems, pretty practical and functional for the price.

Buy a vicious dog with the bite of a grizzly bear: I know from personal experience that sometimes the best home defense is a good old-fashioned dog. Like many of us in Big Horn County, I grew up in the rural area we all have come to know and love, and a big part of that lifestyle was a good working dog.

My dogs were trained to work cattle and I was fairly confident that my house was reasonably distant enough from the road to not attract unwanted company, but even as a kid, I knew a locked gate would only prevent so much. So I trained my dogs to also be very protective over the house and family, and to get “mean” when they needed to be. The most critical aspect I needed them to understand was when it was appropriate to bite. They were trained to not attack until commanded.

My personal favorite breed of dog is the Queensland Terrier, or in the common tongue; a blue or red heeler. Mine are named Duke and Tuffy. With lightning quick reflexes, a powerful bite and a ferocious, but calm, demeanor the Queensland Terrier is still a huge favorite to many livestock producers. Famed for their many different attributes, the heeler will not hesitate to put his life on the line for you and protect you from an assailant or a mama cow that is “all bluff.” This breed is still gentle enough to sit in the living room and babysit the kids. That aspect came in really handy one night when someone made the not-so-smart choice to try to sneak in to my barn window, right where the dogs slept. I awoke to the sounds of screaming and furious barking. Needless to say, I allowed them to deal with the suspect in their own way and took my time slipping my boots on to go outside and rescue this person from the jaws of my dogs. Several bite marks, gashes and stitches later, the dogs made the barn floor look like a crime scene. The suspect was carted away by police officers and I haven’t seen him around since, but it proved to me the importance of a good dog. The heeler is very intelligent and worth their weight in gold when it comes to a loving, but practical pet that serves faithfully and without question.

Whether these suggestions fall on deaf ears or not, the main aspect I suggest is to take all the necessary precautions to ensure your safety. In the Crow culture, we always say that material things can be replaced, but not a human life. Protect yourself at all times, do what you can to make sure your home is secured and protected as well, but above all, stay on your toes and stay safe. We are not in Kansas anymore, Toto.