LOS ANGELES — A burglar will use any open door — front, back, side, garage or doggy. "If the door is big enough for a Lab or mastiff, I'm not sure I would want to crawl through it," said Dr. Bonnie Beaver, a professor at Texas A&M University's College of Veterinary Medicine and director of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.
Police, retailers and pet owners say you can replace, renovate or reduce your doggy door to dissuade intruders — human and animal:
Replace it: There are options whether you want to spend $10, $100 or over $1,000.
There are all-screen doors with magnets that slide back into place, electronic doors with locking mechanisms, wall entry doors, bullet-proof doors, extreme weather doors, aluminum doors and panels for patio doors, said Jodi Liddle, merchandising and purchasing manager for Wisconsin-based Drs. Foster and Smith.
Honeywell Security Group's Total Connect app will monitor a pet door, sending an alert to a homeowner's phone or pad saying the door is being accessed, said Rob Puric, director of Honeywell's product management for residential systems. If you add a camera, you can watch who or what is coming or going, he said.
A SureFlap door allows a cat or dog to enter by reading a microchip implanted in the animal.
The PetSafe SmartDoor reads radio frequencies from a key on your dog's collar and Power Pet Doors by High Tech are activated by an ultrasonic collar worn by the pet.
Guard it: Don't underestimate the value of your dog as a deterrent, said Col. Jerry Neufeld, public information officer for the Amarillo Police Department. "A dog that barks, even if it's just a little dog that yaps, will draw attention and no criminal wants that," said Nicole Aguon, a crime specialist with the Livermore, Calif., Police Department.
A "Beware of Dog" sign — whether you have one or not — might also deter a burglar because most are opportunists and will move on rather than risk it.
Minimize the risk: Get the smallest door your dog or cat can reasonably get through, Neufeld said, and if you can unlock the door when you reach through, add another deadbolt higher on the door. If the house is going to be empty for a while, secure all windows and doors and put a barrier on the doggy door if there is no lock.