A Wonderful Course in Springfield Mass

I just returned to Bozeman, MT after teaching in Springfield, MA.  Quite a contrast leaving 90 degree weather and coming to rain and morning snow!

An fun dog capture & handling class at TJ O'Connor Animal Shelter!

It was a great class and we had a lot of fun.  We had a nice mix of ACOs, shelter workers, and dog rescuers.  The first day was primarily devoted to non-chemical capture.  We talked about ways of catching fearful dogs by hand and practicing physical restraint with calmness.  We set boxtraps in a way that really catches dogs and discussed unusual baits and attractants.  Of course we talked at length about the Y pole and what it can and cannot do, covered nets, and even methods for catching entire packs of dogs.  And we enjoyed videos for most of these topics.

On Day 2 we focused on Chemical Capture with legal responsibilities, the newest dartguns, and how to select the various immobilizing drugs like picking the right tool for any specific job.  I was excited to see how each class member had all of the immobilizing drugs and accessory drugs figured out by the end of the class.  Trivia:  Do you know why the term ”tranquilizer gun” is incorrect? We had a fun outdoor dartgun lab even though it was very hot!  Even with chemical capture we talked about staying connected with the animal and all of the messages the animal provides us when it is under anesthesia.

On Day Three we spent more time on Chemical Capture and had a needle and syringe lab learning safe and accurate methods and several ways to load a syringe pole.  As usual, I customized the course to meet the needs of each student.  Rabies is a big topic in Massachusetts so we talked about rabies and other wildlife diseases.  Danielle Robertson has a business, Compassionate Pets, helping people find their lost pets and we opened up class discussion to go through the whole process of recovering a lost dog.  Every student was also a teacher in this way.

My sincerely thanks to Wendy LeSage, Sage Dawg Services, for setting up the local arrangements. Thank you also to Sara Rohan, Operations Manager, and the TJ O’Connor Animal Shelter.  It was a great classroom and it was an honor to teach at such an awesome facility.

Over the next month I will be lining out my course schedule for fall/winter/spring.  The dates and locations will be posted on my website Seminar Schedule and on my blog Training Page.

What fun!  Mark

Preparing to Teach in Massachusetts – not your typical course

Dogs at TJ O'Connor Animal Shelter

I have arrived in Springfield Massachusetts and I’m gathering things I need to teach Dog Chemical and Non-Chemical Capture Course for ACOs and dog rescue groups.  The TJ O’Connor Animal Shelter has a great class room and there is wonderful space outside to practice the drug delivery systems.

Over the next three days we are going to explore the finesse of interacting with dogs who are fearful.  Many people will be quite satisfied with simply exploring the technical aspects of dog handling techniques and equipment, drugs, and drug delivery with attention to detail for success and safety.  They will benefit greatly as we explore the immobilizing drugs and learn the variety of drugs creates choices to address the real field experiences of working with difficult dogs in challenging environments.  We will  study how we influence the animal which influences how they respond to the immobilizing drugs.  And we will also be covering an in-depth look at the versatile and humane Y pole which can potentially transform how handlers interact with dogs.

But there will be so much more. Continue reading

Just Returned from HSUS Pet Expo

I have just returned from the Humane Society of the US Pet Expo in Nashville, TN.  I have attended and taught workshops at previous expos, but it has been awhile.  I was extremely impressed with the passion, the resources, and the remarkable people who are dedicated to reduce animal suffering and generally create a better world.

The exhibitors played a very strong role in supporting Expo and they provide awesome resources for the animal welfare professional, whoever you are.   I visited with most of the companies providing capture and handling equipment and I not only learned about new equipment and new ways of using the old equipment, I realized how responsive they are to new ideas for products or how to modify existing products.

One example of a responsive company who carries capture and handling equipment is Campbell Pet Company, who sells the Snappy Snare.  They heard how dogs can quickly bite through the nylon Snappy Snare and so they made a stainless steel one! Continue reading

Spay Neuter Project in Samoa

Preface: I have had the honor of consulting for Emma Clifford and the Animal Balance team.   Emma is our first visiting blog author to write about their experiences, especially relating to dog capture and handling.  Many times, spay neuter organizations, with sincere intentions to reduce suffering, cause pain and injury for both dogs and people because of their struggles with capture and handling.  In contrast, Animal Balance thoroughly did their homework and worked with compassionate energy with each dog even when their field work got tough.   As we all learn in the field about our successes and challenges, it should be our goal to write, photograph, and film our experiences so that we can gather our knowledge and share it with others.  I am grateful to Emma for sharing their story.   My thanks to Paulina DeVelasco for her photos.     Mark

My name is Emma Clifford and I am the Director of Animal Balance, www.animalbalance.org.  We organize mobile high volume sterilization clinics for cats and dogs around the world. We focus on islands where the dogs and cats may pose a threat to native species, such as the Galapagos Islands, where the people cannot afford to sterilize their pets; Dominican Republic (DR); or where the dogs may pose a health risk, the Samoan Islands.

Animal Balance Team in Samoa

Approximately 25 international volunteer veterinarians, animal technicians, dog handlers and others who have a skill, or experience, in an area of animal protection, come together to form the Animal Balance teams. Our collective goal is to sterilize and treat the maximum number of cats and dogs in the time that they have on the island.  Clinics are built in discos, pizza restaurants, gyms, meeting halls, wherever we can. We work in very remote areas so sometimes we use the tail of the pick up truck as the surgery table. We can set up a clinic anywhere and sterilize animals en masse. Our standard of care and protocols are of the highest standard. We sterilize owned, free roaming to feral cats and dogs. Their label does not matter; we sterilize them all for free in the communities where we work.

We are a humane organization and believe in only employing kind methods in managing cat and dog populations.

Surgery on a Porch

Round up and kill is not an option that should be considered. Sustainable management strategies have to involve high volume sterilization, humane educations, vet to vet and tech to tech training programs and dog training classes, where appropriate.

We can sterilize 400 plus animals in a week. Each dog and cat is given internal and external parasite treatments. If they have other ailments we treat those to the best of our ability. Each dog is given a tattoo and sometimes a microchip, depending on where we are working. They also receive a new collar and leash and are encouraged to come to dog training classes. We tip the cat’s ear and quite often they receive new collars too, thanks to Pet Food Express, who donate  their old stock.

Capturing Dogs

The dogs on the Galapagos and DR, for the most part, do not need to be captured. With some patience the dogs tend to get within 4 feet and finally will allow Continue reading