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Dog Owner Involvement - Why it is sometimes better to take a step back

By Mike Allison, Jul 21 2018 10:38PM

Most animal owners believe they 'know' their animals intimately, and in most cases this is true. But many owners are simply unaware that the character and behaviour of an escaped animal can change dramatically - sometimes in a matter of minutes to behave like almost a completely different animal.

As the country's most experienced animal capture operators, nobody knows better than ACUK/CCUK that whilst owner involvement at certain levels is crucial as few people other than the owner will have the level of commitment required to facilitate a successful capture of an escaped animal.

However, in the closing stages of a capture operation direct owner involvement can sometimes be detrimental to the successful capture of live animals - especially dogs. In most cases the emotional attachment will hinder what is often a critical operational stage and can compromise the entire operation. Indeed we have seen recently where an entire operation had to be aborted and re-scheduled due to owner interference, and in one unfortunate case a dog died as a result of the owner being insistent on maintaining total control at all levels.

It is a fact that most failed capture operations are caused by owners failing to understand the complexity of the operation, and/or making ill-timed decisions that can have have dramatic negative effects on the subject animal's behavioural pattern - and therefore reducing the potential likelihood of a successful capture.

Formulating a capture plan can be a highly complex, multi-faceted operation often reliant on additional skill sets outside of the normal scope of the average animal lover. The longer the animal has been liberated, the more important it is to engage people with the specialist knowledge and experience, and leave them to do what they do best - to be able to collectively deliver a successful outcome.

This article offers a 7 point plan explaining what owners can do to help ensure that their pet is re-captured safely, humanely and quickly:

1) Notification - Once you realise that your dog has escaped, then inmost cases you will manage to recover the animal without any help, however if the animal is nervous, frightened and reluctant to come near anyone, then you are dealing with a different set of circumstances. In this case it is important to notify neighbours, the Police (especially if the animal is aggressive, or in an area where it may cause a traffic collision), a professional dog capture team who can advise you on the most appropriate course of action to help bring your dog home safely.

2) Information - In the early stages of an escape, clear, accurate and reliable information is crucial to help formulate a re-capture plan. The likely information you will need to provide are details of the breed, age, sex and typical live weight of the animal. A photographs is always useful to make sure that a reliable ID can be made. It is also useful to know the specific circumstances of the escape, the animal's temperament, history and any injuries/illnesses the dog may have. All these things will be needed in the operational planning stage.

3) Engagement of a Professional - There are many dog capture teams out there claiming to be 'qualified, experienced professionals' and so the boundaries between true professionals and simply well-meaning volunteers have become indistinct. As almost every capture operation is as individual as the subject dog's owner, then the difference between choosing the right team and not, can mean the difference between your dog being bought home safely or being frightened off and never seen again. It is important that you speak first to one of the experienced teams to obtain good advice at the outset.

4) Sighting Data - In the initial stages of an escape when friends and neighbours will be trying their best to help, it is crucial that you start to collate sighting data. That can be as simple as writing down where your dog was seen, the time and what it was doing. Sighting data is going to be one of the first requirements your professional team will use to build a picture of not only your dog's current movement pattern, but can also be used to predict future movement patterns. This information is vital in capture planning.

5) Landowner Authorisation - Regardless of whether your dog is lost in a residential area, a housing estate, wasteland or agricultural land, you will need to gain authorisation from the landowner to set traps or use any kind of Chemical Immobilisation Technology (CIT). Wandering onto private land without permission will undoubtedly cause landowners to be reluctant to help you. CIT Operators will always need authorisation - preferably in writing - before entering onto any land with a dart projector. If you need assistance with communicating with landowners, then your Professional Capture Team will be able to help.

6) Operational Planning - As no two capture operations are identical, the operational planning procedure will have measureof flexibility in it. Your Professional Capture Team will have generic capture protocol in place, but will also prepare a list of site-specific considerations to deal with un-planned events in what can be a highly dynamic environment. It is in the planning stage where the important information referred to in points 2 - 5 above is needed. In the implementation stage of the capture operation, owner involvement will normally be limited to a monitoring capacity only whilst the professional team carry out their work.

7) Post-capture procedures and after care - Once a successful capture has been effected, the the owner would be informed immediately, and the capture team will make a thorough inspection of the animal for any signs of injury or disease that may require Veterinary treatment. ACUK/CCUK have a qualified Veterinary Surgeon in our front-line team, so this process is carried out immediately. It is at this stage where great care must be taken to prevent re-escape. The greatest risk of this is normally as the animal is transferred from the trap to the transport cage, so in all cases full security measures will be in place. when an animal has been recovered using CIT, then there will be a period where it is recovering from sedation. Recovery can vary from a few minutes up to an hour depending on the breed, weight and pre-capture mentality.

Professional capture teams have often been criticised for appearing to 'take control' in a capture operation, however it is important for owners to know that this is not a personal issue. The final stages of a capture operation are time critical and so it is necessary for the Professional team to be in total control to ensure that the right decisions are made at the right time.

For professional advice and guidance for your lost dog from the UK's leading Professional Dog Capture Specialists, contact us NOW on 0845 303 7266


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