There are more than 75 million people who own dogs in the United States, according to the Humane Society of the United States and the ASPCA. Most of those people walk their dogs on a regular basis. Therefore, they probably know their neighborhoods better than most and are more apt to notice when something – or someone – is out of place and potentially causing a problem.
That’s the idea behind Dog Walker Watch programs that are springing up around the country. More than 2,300 communities around the country have signed up for Dog Walker Watch programs already, and dog-walking citizens are working hand in hand with their local police departments to help reduce crime in their communities by calling the police to report suspicious activity that they may encounter while on their daily walks.
When people sign up for a Dog Walker Watch program, they attend a training session with members of their local police department who teach them what sorts of things to watch out for and the importance of looking around on a walk instead of being absorbed in your phone or music. Basic safety measures are included in the training as well. The training session takes about an hour.
The National Association of Town Watch created the Dog Walker Watch program in order to utilize the people who know their neighborhoods best by teaching them what to look for and how to report suspicious people, activity, or behaviors to their local police department.
Many people walk their dogs in the morning as children are waiting for school buses. The children get to know the dog walkers and their pets and learn that they have a safe person to talk to. The dog walkers can help keep an eye on the kids and watch for any suspicious figures lurking around.
People who walk around their neighborhoods regularly are also apt to notice things like a window, door, or fence that are ajar that shouldn’t be.
The idea is not for the dog walkers to stop a criminal in their tracks, but to provide enough information to the proper authorities so that they can prevent crime, or at least catch the criminals after the fact.