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

Catching a Particular Dog – In a Nutshell

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. 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,  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

Work Dogs The Way We Work Horses

Dr. Mark during his cowboy years.

I have just returned from working “in the field” with horses in South Dakota.  Actually I was working around horses and was helping Dave Pauli of Humane Society of the United States dart captive wild mustangs with an immunocontraceptive called PZP.  It is always a pleasure working with Dave and I love being around horses.

In high school, my dream was to be a cowboy and as soon after I graduated high school near Minneapolis, MN, I started working on a ranch near Red Lodge, MT.  I worked on several different ranches that still used horses to round up the cattle.  And when I was a veterinarian in private practice, horses were often my patients.

Now I work more with wolves and dogs.  At times when I teach about dog handling, people remind me how similar it can be to working with horses.

Dogs recovering together in a large room after surgery.

There are times when we have to work with dogs that are loose in

large rooms or pens.  This might be a hoarding situation with large pens or in a disaster response or with captive wolves.  Some trap/neuter/release (TNR or ABC-Animal Birth Control) programs around the world cannot build individual kennels and have to keep their dogs, recovering from surgery, in one or more large rooms.  And then they have the difficulty of re-catching them for transport to return them to where they were caught.  It can be terrifying for the untrained handler to work dogs in these rooms. Continue reading