Oral Chemical Capture of Street Dogs – Part 2


Fatal Plus should not be used to orally drug street dogs for the purpose of spaying or neutering.  We are still searching for safe and reliable oral chemical capture drugs for dogs.

This past month, a reader described using Fatal Plus to orally drug a street dog who could not be captured any other way.  (See Oral Chemical Capture of Street Dogs – Part 1).  I sincerely appreciated her comments because it motivated me to study oral drugging with sodium pentobarbital (the principal ingredient in Fatal Plus), I have learned a lot as a result and I respectfully share what I have learned.

After reading her comment, I had grave thoughts about giving an oral dose of a euthanasia agent, Fatal Plus, but we also need as many options as possible for catching difficult dogs.  So I visited by phone with the owner of Vortech Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of Fatal Plus, and with Dr. Rebecca Rhodes, author of the Euthanaisa Training Manual published by Humane Society of the United States (2002).

Dr. Rhodes absolutely discourages the use of Fatal Plus because the concentration of sodium pentobarbital is so strong that it can be very difficult to successfully recover the dog from the drug effects.  In addition, it is a DEA controlled substance with great potential for chemical addiction and it should not be taken out of the secure clinical setting.

There can be great pressure to capture a particular dog, but do we pursue it at all costs?  At times it is good to ask ourselves, ”Are we doing this for us or for the animal?”  With Fatal Plus, there is far too much risk to the animal and too much risk to staff and the public.  And so it should not be a tool for chemical capture.

We still need to identify and test oral sedatives and anesthetics that can provide reliable chemical capture of street dogs, but even then oral drugging should only be used after all other capture methods have been tried. Oral drugging is inconsistent and unreliable because you do not know how much the animal will eat or how much food is in its stomach to dilute the drug; and oral drugging is a very weak method for administering the drug in general (See the post: Spay Neuter Project in Samoa).  Dr. Mark

One Step at a Time – A Testimony from an ACO

I recently received the following wonderful email from an ACO who took my course in Massachusetts last month.

“I just wanted to tell you that last night I used the “quiet” technique you taught
us in class. Unfortunately I couldn’t use the Y pole as the dog could have bolted (not fenced in) and with the way he looked, I wasn’t sure if he was rabid or not, or just really terrified. Anyway, I approached him one step at a time letting him settle each time I moved. He never stopped growling and I never took my eyes off of him. I used the catch pole in the same manner as the Y pole, carrying it low to the ground. When I finally got close enough to use the catch pole the dog was calm, I was calm, the audience just watched (LOL) and I quietly slid the noose over his head and tightened it just enough not to lose the dog. When I realized he was just terrified, I patted his head, scratched his ear and put my lead over his head patted him again and I took the catch pole off. It really was the most awesome experience and I really didn’t care how long it took me to get him. The folks thought I was scared of him and I informed them that I just didn’t want him stressed out any more than he was. The dog jumped into my truck and his mom found him this morning. I really want to thank you for all you do for the dogs and for training all of us. It really did help last night………your voice was reminding me to take that deep breath and be calm…..it really worked.  I thank you, Niko (the German Shepherd) thanks you. Nicest catching experience I’ve had since I started this job.”
Tracy Root, Southwick MA ACO

What a great story!  I asked her in a following letter: “Tracy, I see you as a very kind and caring person. And you are obviously a very experienced ACO.  Why is this a new approach?  Have you not always handled dogs this way?”

Tracy responded, “As for why its new…..the classic case of “needing to get it done NOW” syndrome. I’ve always tried to be slow, caring and just let the animal chill, but most the time we have that homeowner or driver acting like your “imposing” on them by taking that extra time. Since your class, I’ve decided the human can wait, the animal is my first and most important reason for being there and if it takes me 30 mins or more to collect the animal, and the animal is calm and relaxed then I have a much nicer, happier animal and call that I just finished. Hey, at my age I’ll never stop learning! Lots of “new” in my life of working with the animals. Patients had gotten pushed aside. I had forgotten how to tune out the rushed world until your course……now its back and its not going anywhere again. I see so much calm in the animals and myself now. Very experienced??? Not really, I’ve only been an ACO for 4 years…………just love my animals and want to do the best for them.“

Tracy, it is great that you used the catch pole in the same way you would use the Y pole.  It clarifies to me that what I am striving to teach is not just the tool (the Y pole) but the calm and compassionate approach for all situations.  Thank you.  Dr. Mark

Oral Chemical Capture for Street Dogs – Part 1

Note: I am creating the following comment and my reply as a post so people can search this by category under “Chemical Capture”.  In general, oral drugging is inconsistent, unreliable, and ineffective. That is one reason why it is not commonly used.  We are still searching for safe and reliable oral chemical capture drugs for dogs.  Chemical capture is best chosen after all options of non-chemical capture are tried.  Dr. Mark

laura jackson, on June 8, 2010 at 2:41 pm Said:

I’ve just been reading this website and thought I’d submit a comment. I operate a free spay/neuter program entitled ‘SpayStreet,’ in Austin Texas. I’ve had to capture a number of feral female dogs lately – all trap resistant – and I’ve tried oral sedatives likes telazol, ace and dormitor. Nothing worked. Then we tried darting, but that just terrified the dog and she ran faster. Basically, nothing worked. Then we tried a sure thing…. Fatal Plus. Guesstimating body weight and then dosing at half the body weight, it safely sedated the most skiddish dog. (For example; a 60 lb dog received 3cc). We gave the drug orally in wet cat food and waited about 15 minutes (safely following the dog at a distance). The dog gradually stumbled and layed down. I threw a net over her, loaded her and she was spayed 30 minutes later and released the next day.

Dr. Mark’s reply: Continue reading

Street Dogs Instantly Barking at the Dog Catchers – from a mere smell.

Dear Sujatha,

Thank you very much for your valuable question.

In my opinion, the important challenge may not be to address how dogs can smell the dog handlers, but how to change how the dogs are reacting when they are aware of the catchers.  Most dog catchers have very high and aggressive energy when catching dogs.  They have the predator energy of chasing and they see it as a fight to see who wins.  It is hard for people to even imagine any other way.

The other way is to gather dogs with calmness and compassion.  I teach that the crazier the dog gets the calmer we should be.  Imagine catching a dog with a leash or net and at first there is a struggle.  Imagine that when the dog stops struggling, it already finds the person calm and relaxed and not threatening at all.  Imagine that while the dog is in the net, its head might be covered with a cloth and it actually has a feeling of being safe.  This is possible. Continue reading