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:

Dear Laura, Thank you for your valuable work and for your contribution to the Feral Dog Blog.  When I read your comments, I had grave thoughts about giving an oral dose of a euthanasia agent, but I also wanted to be open to what is both effective and safe for the dog.  So I visited by phone with the owner of Vortech Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of Fatal Plus and with Dr. Rebecca Rhodes, author of Euthanaisa Training Manual.  I learned that Fatal Plus should not be used orally for any purpose other than a last resort to capture a dog with the purpose of euthanizing it.  An example would be a dog who is a pubic health risk and cannot be trapped or darted.

I understand that there can be great pressure to capture a particular dog, but in this case, Fatal Plus, which is extremely concentrated sodium pentabarbitol (390 mg/ml), is extremely unsafe and too risky to use for chemical capture.  In addition, this drug has great potential for chemical addiction and therefore is extremely regulated by the Drug Enforcement Administration.    Currently there is no tested and effective oral drug for safely capturing street dogs.  Dr. Mark

7 Responses

  1. I have two additional HUGE concerns about this account.

    First, how are smaller dogs, cats and other animals to be prevented from eating the drugged food and dying?

    Second — am I to understand that Ms. Jackson practices trap/neuter/release with DOGS in Austin, Texas? (i.e. not in a undeveloped nation where feral dogs are socially expected, and even have a niche.)

    If so, I am struggling to find a justification for such a practice.

    • These are very good concerns. I was also surprised at trap/neuter/release in the U.S. Laura, would you be willing to address these questions? Dr. Mark

  2. I should have been more specific, sorry. In the case I cited, the baited food is fed to the specific dog and administered by me. Here’s the situation so you will better know the parameters. I did a spay/neuter program in a small, poor trailer park. There was a feral dog living in the park for years, having litter after litter of 10-12 pups. The pups were irresponsibly given away and continued to breed in the community.
    After fixing all the trailer park resident owned dogs/cats, this single feral catahoula remained. She was being fed by a responsible park resident. We tried trapping, darting, cornering, other sedative drugs, but nothing worked on this catch-resistant dog. Under the direction of a local vet who researched the topic, we sedated the dog with Fatal Plus. The dog calmly layed down after 15 minutes, we netted her and she was spayed/vaccinated that day. It was the best day of her poor life. We released her the next day when she had recovered. This dog remains feral, but she eats well, doesn’t spread disease, doesn’t have pups and everyone’s quality of life improved by catching her.

    I have traveled to many countries outside the US. The neighborhoods that I work for my spay/neuter program are very similar to Mexico and Central America. I just trapped a pack of 11 ferals (7 females/4 males) living in the County. It took months, but they are all fixed/vaccinated now. They receive intermittent feeding by men living in this makeshift junkyard. There are thousands of dog packs in our major cities – LA, New Orleans, Houston and St. Louis are just a few large cities with this problem. The problem is only growing with our recessed economy.

    • I am part of a no kill rescue group in SC. We box trapped an extremely cute, fearful, frightened dog hanging around someone’s house for weeks and after several months able to get close enough to trap her in our doggie play area to her to the vet for spaying, neutering, shots, etc. It wasn’t easy and required 4 people directing her into a small “hallway or shoot” where we grabbed her and put her in a crate. After a time of more intense work we were able to pick her up and send her to a foster who felt she could help her overcome her severe fearfulness of people. The dog almost immeidately escaped and is now wandering a beautiful neighborhood scavenging items from house to house. SHe is am extremely cute dog but still will not allow anyone to touch her although she will come in their fenced yard to visit with their two dogs. She is small enough that she can slip through the pickets in their fence! Once any trapping is used this dog will not go there again. We have tried everythimg to get her back even netting her from underneath. We have tried valium, ACE, An ACE concoction prepared by our vet and Ketamine. All have the opposite effect of tranquilizing or sedating. The foster has now been visited by their Home Owners Association with an Animal Control Officer who stated it sounded like the foster has tried everything possible. SC does not allow Animal Control to use tranquilizer guns and not sure that would help anyway. Your solution of a half dose of Fatal Plus sounds like our only last resort. I hope we can talk our vet into allowing us to use this method or go with her to where the dog is located and use it himself. If it mistakenly euthanizes her it is better than her continuing to live this way, stealing from homeowners, or being shot by someone. We want her back in rescue as we had made great progress with her before sending to foster and want the chance to work with her again no matter how long it takes. Thank you for what you are doing. I completely agree and understand and sorry others who have tried all the other methods don’t understand.

      • Margaret,
        Thank you for your kind comments and for your caring work. As I wrote in the blog article, I strongly discourage Fatal Plus as a tool, but wrote an article about it because so many people ask about it. Although there are many situations in which oral drugging simply will not be effective, many potential solutions of oral drugging do not work because there is too much excitement or the animal is chased before and after the drugging. (By “chase” I even mean simply walking toward, or talking to, a dog that does not want to be caught. This is enough to raise the fear and heart rate and compromise the effectiveness of the drug. I ALWAYS encourage the quieter, slower methds which can often take weeks to earn the animals trust.

        With this small dog, I would expect acepromazine and ketamine would be effective if the animal truly consumes it and if it is a very quiet setting. But working without oral drugging is always a good choice if you have the right environment. If this dog is willing to enter a fenced area (with poor fencing that does not hold it in), then you should be able to find a more secure fenced area – or make one- that you can bring the animal in with food on a regular basis. One the more secure area is part of the dog’s routine, then set up a trap door to catch the dog.

        Please let us know how you do and we sincerely wish for your success and her safety.
        Dr. Mark

  3. Laura

    I have also used this method of sedation as all others proved ineffective. And while H.Houlahane’s fears are justified as the bait is not target specific. We found if we got the targets feeding regularly and monitored the bait site we could be very effective and minimize any collateral. But the trick is to keep it small and monitor the bait.

  4. Thanks for the info Laura. I have rural land in Hickman County Tennessee and people release dogs there frequently. If I cant catch them, my farmer neighbor will shoot them to protect his livestock. So if an animal happened to die from an overdose of Fatal Plus, it would be better than being shot/wounded/ dying a slow death.

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