By Bruce Alexander
You never know when the next personal protection specialist you run into might show you their teeth. Just hope its not a personal protection dog. This Miami Herald article on personal protection dogs brings an interesting perspective to Executive Protection. You can, and should, read the article yourself. I’m not adding any value by repeating the contents. However I will offer a few observations.
There’s no doubt a dog can serve as a means of personal protection but there’s a limit to what you can expect from a dog. A dog would certainly deter an attacker who was looking for a target of opportunity or keep paparazzi at arm’s length, but for a committed attacker, particularly one who has prepared a pre-attack plan, and performed even rudimentary surveillance on the target, a dog is nothing more than a minor nuisance who will be quickly dispatched at the start of the attack.
Arguably the same could be said for a close protection specialist operating alone however a trained and alert close protection specialist will prevent or avoid situations that are potentially threatening. A dog on the other hand is purely reactionary.
Unlike a dog, an Executive Protection specialist is trained to anticipate threats and respond with a variety of options when necessary whereas a dog is trained to react and sometimes only on command. An Executive Protection specialist doesn’t need commands from the principal before acting and will continue to act if the principal is injured or otherwise incapacitated.
There’s also the protective services aspect that an Executive Protection specialist provides, which a dog never will (except maybe fetching the newspaper or slippers). While you might not need a weapons permit to cross an international border with a personal protection dog, that dog is not going to arrange for your baggage to be picked up and delivered, expedite your arrival through customs and immigration, arrange transportation, get you to your meetings on time, or wake you up in the morning, all while protecting your life.
Allow me to also enlighten the person who said dogs “are perfect for clients who want to `cross international borders without the hassle of weapons permits”.’ Try stepping off a plane in a foreign country with Fido or Fifi at your side and see what happens. Guess what, Fido and Fifi are going right to the dog pound and I don’t mean Snoop Dog’s house.
I mean quarantine, in many cases. Need another example? Watch the reaction when you try to walk downtown Riyadh with a dog, if you ever make it that far. All of this will take place, after you’re done waiting for your dog to be delivered from the cargo hold, by the way.
Don’t get me wrong. Unlike Michael Vick, I actually like dogs and happen to think dogs play an important role in security and law enforcement. Dogs can be good personal security options under the right circumstances. I would however caution that a dog, even the best trained dog, is no substitute for a good Executive Protection specialist. Relying on a dog exclusively for personal protection creates a false sense of security.
If someone thinks that their personal security situation warrants a $50K dog, my advice is to review your threat profile before you plunk down your cash. Ask yourself why you think you need a dog in response to your personal security considerations, then consult with a reputable Executive Protection specialist to discuss concerns, and protective options.