My colleague, Sujatha, from New Delhi, sends me wonderful questions about dog capture and handling. He has been working tirelessly over the past few months to care for a fragile street dog in particular, though he works with a strong ABC (animal birth control) program and works with many dogs. He writes: “There are so many situations where we need to get a dog caught – when a dog is injured or is sick but is not friendly enough to be picked up easily. How do people single handedly try and catch dogs?”
There is no easy answer, but here was my best try at the moment…
Unfortunately, there will always be dog we cannot catch. And doing it alone makes it far more difficult. As you know, we have a much better chance of catching most dogs when we can use Time in our favor to earn the animal’s trust or to modify its habits so it begins using areas where we can indeed capture it.
If you have to catch a dog fairly soon, nets and boxtraps are the best first option. I met a team of dog handlers who where students of mine with Project Vet Train in Faridabad who were masters with the nets. They could work in a very calm manner and work in a large circle to slowly and calmly encircle the dog and catch it even in an open area. Netting is a well-known technique, but do not under estimate what you can do with them. There are always better ways to be successful with them. Be creative.
Boxtraps are very expensive but can catch many, many dogs in a good way. I recommend the Tru- Catch 48F Folding Dog Trap which I write about on my blog. If a dog will run to your food scraps, you can set up the boxtrap with food scraps inside, then throw scraps to entice the dog close to the trap. This is used extensively by the Ladakhi Animal Care Society in Leh after my visit there. Vets Beyond Borders, who support this program, generously provided the traps. For training material on how to boxtrap dogs – visit our Free Training Library.
In ideal conditions, chemical capture can be an option, but it must be a last resort, because there are many issues to address. The immobilizing drugs usually require a permit or license and in many countries they can only be administered by a veterinarian. There are legal aspects such as record keeping and locked storage. There is the cost of a drug delivery system. Although a blowpipe can be inexpensive, it can only shoot a short distance and is inconsistent. I recommend a drug delivery system, such as that made by Pneudart or DanInject, which has a pressure gauge. The pressure gauge is the most important component since it will show exactly how much pressure will be behind the dart and therefore is the most accurate.
If you have time to catch a dog, then of course, earn its trust so you can either catch it with a leash or net or bring it to a boxtrap with food. Also over time, you can possibly change a dog’s travel habits to eat at a feeding station which is an enclosed area, such as an area with tall brick walls or an empty building. Create a door system which can be closed when the dog is inside, but do not try to catch the dog until it has used the area for a week or more so it becomes more relaxed and may even re-use it after it has been caught. Once the door or gate is close, you can use a small group of Y poles (such as you seen on my video with the wolf) to either move the dog into a crate or drug it with a syringe pole. All of this can be done calmly. You may not be able to afford boxtraps, but everyone has areas that can be made into a “trap” and Y poles can be used to humane catch and handle the dog once it is in a contained area.
Be creative. Use your imagination. But strive to catch the animal in a manner which is kind, compassionate, professional, and safe for you, the dog, and the public. Dr. Mark