2020 and 2021 Feral Dog Blog Update

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I have not been active with my Feral Dog Blog for a long time.  I have been focusing on the half of my career that specializes in wildlife capture and handling.   My website is www dot WildlifeCaptureand Care dot com.  I am producing online courses, ebooks, and training videos.

In 2021, I hope to create a new website for Dog Capture and Care.  It will revive my training materials, provide online courses in dog non-chemical and chemical capture and bring in expertise from other seasoned professionals.  Stay tuned.

If you wish to see some of my dog capture and handling training videos, contact Vets Beyond Borders.  I collaborated with VBB to make training videos for the government of India and VBB will be posting these training videos in their new Training Library.  The videos can be used by individuals to train themselves or by instructors to compliment their own training program. Dr. Mark

Mark R. Johnson DVM, Global Wildlife Resources, Freeland, WACell: 406.570.3915
Website: www.wildlifecaptureandcare.com; Email: mjohnson@wildliferesources.com
ONLINE TRAINING COURSES: HERE!Visit our Wildlife Capture and Care Blog
FACEBOOK for wildlife handling;    Sign up for the GWR Newsletter

New Facebook Page for Humane Dog Capture and Handling

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Dr. Mark's New Facebook Page for Humane Dog Capture and Handling

Dr. Mark’s New Facebook Page for Humane Dog Capture and Handling

I am happy to announce that I have NEW Facebook page for networking with all of you in the feral dog world.  I am hoping this will be one more way to strengthen our connections among animal control officers, animal shelters, spay/neuter programs, and programs and agencies striving working to eradicate rabies and manage dog overpopulation.

Please LIKE my Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/humanedogcaptureandcare

I have people from 167 countries visiting this blog.  How many people and spay/neuter programs are watching?

I would love to hear from you!  See you on Facebook!  Dr. Mark

Should We Catch the Dog?

It is such a pleasure getting comments and questions from my readers.  It helps me understand what issues and challenges people are facing when trying to catch feral dogs and owned animals who have decided to run free.  I often design my blog articles based on your questions and comments and am designing a future training website as well.

On the first day of this year, 2o14, Joyce M sent me an important question about catching a particular feral dog.  I have already responded to Joyce, but this question is so important that I have copied it as an article for the blog.  I would love have to have all of your comments and input about this as well.

Submitted on 2014/01/03 at 5:31 pm  from Joyce M.

“I live in a community where a group of people are banding together to capture a stray dog. Though their intentions are good my main thought is that of the animal. This dog has been on its own in the same area for going on 4 years. It does not trust humans in anyway. Everyone that has encountered this dog and had fed it has said that it will take the bowl and eat the food elsewhere. It has avoided all types of capture with its smarts and shows no interest to be with humans. My main concern is that after/ IF the dog is captured what will happen to its spirite? Will it go into defens mood and become violent? Is there a possibility of it being rehomed?”   

Dear Joyce,
Thank you for your question. It is such an important question that I will make this an article for my blog. You are so correct about looking after the welfare of the dog. If he/she has been living in the same area for 4 years then there may be many reasons to let the animal remain free. Once caught just think how much it will lose it’s sense of freedom and open space. And with it’s deep fear of people, life in captivity will likey be very stressful and traumatic.  And he/she could indeed become defense aggressive and unadoptable.

It would be healthy if the group of people with good intentions who wish to catch the dog would meet and discuss this important issue. There are many reasons why it might be important to catch the animal if it was injured or threatening people. And yes if he/she is adding feral puppies to the area it can be of concern, but even then a capture/neuter and release can be a very humane solution in the right locations and Capture/Neuter/Vaccinate/Release is considered the most humane method for managing feral dog around the world.

Another concern I have is how most people try to catch a dog. It is usually with high energy and often involves chasing the animal. If they use boxtraps, most people do not set it properly to attract and entice the dog and do not wire it open to build confidence. It sounds that with this very fearful dog, a box trap may not be successful which could result in many people chasing it around and becoming less sociable.

I agree with your most pointed question?  What will happen to its spirit when he/she is captured and confined even if kept by the most loving people. We humans do not always think about what is best for the animal even when we have good intentions, so the decision to capture this dog is worthy of more discussion among your neighbors and community.

I would love to hear comments from other readers to give Joyce some help with this difficult question.

Do you think they should catch this dog?


Catching a Dog with the Sack Method (videos)

Dog handlers holding sack for catching dogs at Jeevashram near Rajokri, New Delhi.

Dog handlers holding sack for catching dogs at Jeevashram near Rajokri, New Delhi.

Around the world, nations, cities, and villages are struggling with large roaming dog populations attacking children and adults, infecting people with rabies, especially in Asia and Africa, and the dogs are suffering as well.  To address these serious and significant problems, Animal Birth Control (ABC) programs, also called CNVR (Capture, Neuter, Vaccinate, and Release) programs are dedicated to manage dog populations in a humane way and reduce human rabies spread by dogs.  These organizations throughout the worldwide are often in remote settings and struggling to gather humane capture equipment and need as many humane tools as possible for catching dogs.  Nets are fast and reliable and an important tool, but they can be expensive and difficult to get for some programs.  The Sack Method is an alternative to netting-and even preferable-in some locals.  It is easy to make, is inexpensive, and can be used to catch dogs in locations like narrow alleys where nets are not effective.

Sack for catching dogs.

Sack for catching dogs.

The Sack Method was invented in India and is described in the ABC Operations Manual for Help in Suffering (HIS), Jaipur India.  According to the HIS manual, “It is the professional opinion of all the veterinary surgeons that have been involved with the ABC programme at H.I.S.  that the sack catching method is by far the most humane method of catching dogs which can not safely be caught by hand. No injuries to dogs have been recorded following capture in a sack throughout the time this method has been used. Equally very few injuries to staff have resulted from the use of this method. Furthermore the catching sack method is hard to abuse in the hands of inexperienced staff whose main consideration may not be animal welfare.” Many different names have been used for this tool and it would be good if all ABC programs in India agreed upon a single name.  People have called it the  “Sack and Loop” method, but this is confusing because people confuse this tool with the “Loop and Pole Method”.   I suggest calling it the Sack Method since is it made from two burlap sacks.

Sewing two burlap sacks into one larger sack.

Sewing two burlap sacks into one larger sack.

The Sack method uses two burlap sacks sewn together to make a larger sack. There are 8 metal rings sewn along the top edge.  A rope is threaded through the rings and tied to the last ring.  A loop is tied on the other end of the rope and placed around the handler’s wrist.  The dog handler can secretly carry the net folded under his arm.  The sack is thrown over the dog and the rope is pulled closing the sack.  The sack can be twisted to reduce the dog’s struggling. The sack is later lifted into the truck and the rope is loosened which releases the dog.  Sacks will be soiled and need to be periodically washed.

How to Make a Sack for Catching Dogs

The parts needed for making a sack to catch dogs are:

1) Two large burlap sacks  – 3 ft (91 cm) long and 2..25 ft (68cm) wide

2) Strong string and large blunt needle for sewing sacks together

3) Eight (8) metal rings (6-8 cm or in 2-3 inches in diam)

4) Sixteen feet (5.5meters) of sissel or hemp rope.

First open one side seam on each sack and sew them into one large sack. Then sew eight metal rings evenly spaced along the top edge.  A 16 foot long rope is threaded through rings then tied to the last ring which works like a draw string.  The free end of the rope has a loop to place around your wrist.

Here is a great catch by Shyam Lal from Help in Suffering.

Of course we are not successful with every throw.  Here is a great attempt.

In many places such as the narrow streets, the nets are too big and they are hard to hide.  With the Sack you can easily tuck it under your arm and approach a dog without it knowing you are trying to catch him.

Remember HOW you do it is as important as WHAT you do.  We must be casual and calm when we approach the dogs, just as when we are working with the nets.  Don’t focus on catching the dog when you approach them.  If you do, your body language will be tense, and you will look like a predator.  Be relaxed and hide your intentions.   Let’s see an example of this.

The Sack Method is one more effective and humane tools for catching dogs.  It is important for CNVR programs to have as many different tools as possible.  Try not to limit your program to just one tool.  Dog handlers need many different options.

Best wishes your successful spay/neuter and vaccination programs.

Dr. Mark

Global Wildlife Resources

CATCHING DOGS WITH A NET Part 3 of 4. Netting Sleeping Dogs and Other Tricks

Part 3 of 4. Netting Sleeping Dogs and Other Tricks (with videos)

Catching a Resting Dog

sleeping dogYou can see from Part 2 of this series on netting that when we are catching a dog running along a wall, we are going to sweep the net straight into the dog.  But when catching a dog that is sleeping or laying down, we will use the net in a different way.  Instead we place the net over the dog and many times it will be done softly to keep the dog’s energy low.  After placing the net over the dog, throw the net away from you.  Then slide the hoop on the ground towards you (a quick jerk can be enough) and the dog will try to struggle away from you and will move back into the deep part of the net.  Quickly follow with the twist, Y pole, and towel as described in Part 2.

It is often easier to catch resting dogs when there are a lot of people on the streets.   Stimulus is everywhere and if you stay relaxed, you are just one of the people.

Here is a video with some examples of catching dogs with nets.  My comments will follow. Continue reading

CATCHING DOGS WITH A NET Part 2 of 4. Catching a Running Dog Along a Fence

Netting dog earlyOne very effective way of catching dogs is when they are running along a fence or wall.   Sometimes the only way a dog can run past you is if it runs between you and a wall, so it is good to learn this technique.  I have learned how to use nets to catch wolves at zoos and other captive wolf programs in the U.S.   From my later experience handling street dogs I have modified my technique and softened my behavior to scare the dog less and added a Y pole and a towel to reduce their struggling and stress.

This is Part 2 of a four part series on netting dogs.  In this article I will describe:

  • How to practice before you begin to catch dogs.
  • How to catch a dog running along a wall.
  • Ways of Being as well as the ways of doing, because we are asking the dog to run by us. (Good posture.  Relax.  Invite them to run past you.)
  • How to use nets with a line of people to catch a dog in a large open area. Continue reading

CATCHING DOGS WITH A NET Part 1 of 4. Net Description and Added Tools

Part 1 of 4. Net Description and Added Tools

Photo by JBF India.

Photo by JBF India.

Nets can be a very humane and effective way of catching street dogs.  They are a versatile tool for animal control officers, disaster responders, those rescuing hoarding cases, and spay/neuter programs (ABC programs in India).  A net can also be a valuable tool for handling fearful dogs in animal shelters – yes for dogs too, not just cats!

Yet there is no information available on how to use a net successfully and humanely.  Here at the Feral Dog Blog I will provide you this rare and valuable information.  In addition to netting I am introducing and encouraging people to use a Y pole (when there are at least 2 people) and a towel.  Learn more later.

In this a four part blog article, I will describe:

Continue reading

Using Non-Physical Tools To Catch Dogs

Dr. Mark teaching at MN Zoo.

A few weeks ago I taught a short customized wolf capture and handling workshop to the animal caretakers at the Minnesota Zoo.  We first spent an afternoon in the classroom and the following morning handled their gray wolves, coyotes, and dhole (an Asian canid) in the pens.

As I was half way through my afternoon presentation I realized that all I had been talking about was how to use physical methods and tools for catching the animals.  I spoke about how to use the facilities like utilizing the shape of the pens, the smaller holding areas, and the den boxes.  I covered nets and Y pole and calm physical restraint and as I was talking I realized it was all physical so I shifted into the following advice. Continue reading

Dr. Mark Teaches for HSU at Memphis Animal Shelter

Dr. Mark Demonstrating Scruff

Last week I had the pleasure and honor to teach a dog handling course for Memphis Animal Services at the Memphis Animal Shelter as an instructor for Humane Society University (HSU).  The course was titled: “Humane  Handle of Fearful Dogs for Shelter Staff and ACOs”.   Administrator James Rogers arranged for me to teach the 1-day workshop twice so all shelter staff and ACOs could attend.  This course was offered through Humane Society University.

I was extremely impressed with how receptive all MAS personnel were throughout the course and at how much fun we all had exploring humane ways of handling dogs!  To honor their expertise, I invited several people to demonstrate either new techniques or variations of techniques I was teaching.  We are all each other’s teacher and I learned as well as trained. Continue reading

Social Dominance in Canids is Not a Myth

There is so much confusion when dominance in canids is discussed.   It actually is not that confusing.  Much of the confusion arises when “experts” attempt to re-state the findings of canid experts such as Dave Mech and Marc Beckoff – even suggesting that dominance is not part of the social structure in wolves or other wild canids.

I stole the title of this post from a post written by Marc Beckoff at the Psychology Today Blog and relating to a subsequent and sincere apology from Lee Charles Kelley.  If the subject of dominance in canids is important to you, it is important for you to read these posts.

I do not write about dominance in canids to explain canid behaviors or to guide people for how to train dogs.  I discuss and explore dominance in canids because dominance can be a valuable AND COMPASSIONATE  tool for capturing and handling feral or fearful dogs, which is the theme of this blog.

Thank you Dr. Beckoff and Dr. Mech for your persistence in clarifying your behavior observations.

Respectfully, Dr. Mark