A new B.C.-made product gives small dogs a better chance to fend for themselves against any attacks.
Veterinary professionals Alison Columbus and Janice Voth from North Vancouver have created PredatorBwear, a light-weight, water-resistant, spiked harness for small dogs.
The gear – which will be available for purchase in early January – comes with removable plastic spikes, adjustable straps and reflective strips. It is also washable and has a mesh ventilation system.
Columbus said she and Voth decided to create PredatorBwear after they noticed many smaller dogs being attacked in parks and wanted to create something that would give them some added protection.
“We have seen many dogs that have been attacked by other bigger dogs so we thought we could come up with something that would protect them a little bit,” Columbus said.
While the inspiration was to protect smaller dogs from bigger dogs, the harness is designed to prevent attacks from wild animals such as cougars, coyotes and birds.
“We researched where coyotes and birds of prey and other dogs actually attack a smaller dog. They go for the neck, they go for the back and they try to carry the dog away to a secondary location,” Columbus said. “We tried to make something that would prevent that from happening.”
Development of the PredatorBwear took about a year. Voth said one area of concern during the development phase was ensuring that the harness wouldn’t restrict the dog’s breathing or cause overheating.
“It has got mesh between the spikes as well so it is totally breathable,” she said. “That is one thing that we were focusing on because we know that other harnesses and jackets can get hot in the summer and the dogs can overheat.”
Columbus and Voth also opted to limit product testing so as not to cause any harm.
“We cannot humanely test it because we wouldn’t want to hurt the smaller dogs,” Columbus said. “It would be very stressful to have a big dog come at them, but we have done a lot of research as to where these predators attack the dogs and we’ve placed the spikes in those spots, so the thinking behind it is that the coyotes, if they go to grab the dog, they are going to get a mouth of spikes instead of the dog and they will drop the dog.”
At the end of the day, Columbus said the harness won’t prevent an attack, particularly from large animals such as a bear, but it will give smaller dogs a chance to escape from bird, coyote and cougar attacks.
“It’s not going to prevent an attack because they are wild animals, so who knows what will happen, but it will keep them safer from an attack if it were to happen,” she said.