Spicy Vest Full of Chili Powder Protects Dogs From Wolf Attacks

A new vest developed in Finland could protect dogs from wolf attacks. Imagine a jacket like the one pictured here but rather than being filled with down, it would contain packets of chili triggered by wolfbite. Sherry Galey/Getty Images

Now-grown children may remember a certain nasty-tasting paint their mom used to put on their fingernails to prevent nail biting. Well, one village in eastern Finland is ready to adopt a similar strategy — to keep local grey wolves from chewing on their pet dogs.

So far in 2016, 32 dogs in the town of Nurmes, Finland, have been killed or injured in wolf attacks. But wolves are a protected species in Finland, with only about 250 individuals remaining in the entire country. And although their continued protection is highly controversial in some areas, the government is (sort of) trying to protect the wolves that do remain from poachers and disgruntled farmers. Naturally, the people of Nurmes — and other Finnish towns on the Russian border where wolves sightings are most common and attacks most frequent — fear for the safety of their pets and children. Which is why a man named Jussi Aro invented the "chili vest."

Aro is not from Nurmes, but he has spent the past decade working on what he told Finnish broadcaster YLE is "my own one-man war" to design a non-lethal means of preventing wolf-on-dog attacks. What he's come up with is a vest a dog can safely wear, but when punctured by, say, some wolf's sharp teeth, cartridges embedded in the vest spray out blasts of chili powder right into the attacker's face. Imagine the pepper- or mace-based defensive sprays many people carry, but built right into clothing and automatically triggered.

Aro has had a prototype of the vest ready for a couple years, but it's only now that some Nurmes residents have agreed to participate in a trial of the spicy vest. That'll get started in the spring of 2017. Participants will keep their dogs chili-vested, and take notes on the efficacy of his invention if  their dog is attacked while wearing it.

Here's hoping none of them actually need to use them.