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The UK's leading providers of live animal capture and specialist dog capture services





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


By Mike Allison, Jun 19 2018 02:54PM

Ruby Awakening in Safety & Warmth
Ruby Awakening in Safety & Warmth
Coming to terms with a safe, new environment
Coming to terms with a safe, new environment

Ruby comes home amid differing views of whether CIT is an appropriate, or indeed an acceptable means of dog capture. The truth is that when all other options have ceased to work, or have failed then there are few other viable options left - and of those that are left, then only CIT ticks the boxes when it comes to safe, humane and effective recovery.

Take 'Ria' for example, a dog that had escaped and survived on the streets of Manchester for over 5 years. Almost every conceivable method of capture had been attempted, all of which had failed. 'Ria's' owner never gave up hope amidst sometimes brutal criticism of her actions - especially when she suggested darting as a solution. Ironically, it was CIT and darting that eventually led to the safe and humane re-capture of 'Ria'.

'Ria' and many more dogs and a multitude of other animals throughout the UK owe their very lives to the fact that CIT exists. However, there are precious few operators in the UK capable of using it safely, efficiently or to its full potential.

This was borne out by the haphazard nature by which an operator attempted to dart 'Ria' without the proper knowledge and experience. Even now, a high-profile case is currently on-going whereby the chances of a safe capture are miniscule for no other reason than a deficiency in technical knowledge, and the reluctance on the part of the opertors involved to seek professional guidance.

In 'Ria's' case, there had been multiple attempts at trapping; netting; drugs in feed; dog 'whisperers' and at least one other attempt at darting - all of which had failed miserably - leaving 'Ria' to scavenge for food, risking injury and death on a daily basis - to not only herself, but to any motorist who might swerve to miss her in the busy streets.

So when should CIT & darting be considered as an option? Well, I could start by stating an old saying and it goes; "When the horse you are flogging is dead... it is time to get off the horse and seek another horse" We can equate this philosophy to many cases of dog capture.

One thing we are NOT suggesting is that CIT should be considered as a first option. We must appreciate that very few capture operations are identical, and an almost endless permutation of circumstances can be encountered in what can be a highly dynamic environment.

So when should CIT & Darting be an option? Well its normally when there is little chance of other methods working, whether its in the form of calm, softly spoken positive reinforcement to trapping, to the use of other less popular methods such as physical restraint or collarums. One thing is for sure, that when a method is simply not working, then it is very unlikely to work in the future - so what would be the point in continuing to flog that particular 'dead horse'?

There is a grave downside to this practice too. Animals (as with humans) will only take so much before they do something drastic to avoid the event, and in the case of dogs, it is usually a profound change in routine behaviour. No matter how well-meaning the action is, it is at these times that the unfortunate animals are unwittingly placed in greater danger.

Only in the last six months such a change resulted in the unfortunate - but avoidable - death of a dog which had changed its behavioural pattern in response to ill-timed human intervention - coupled with the failure to understand the likely consequences.

So what are there risks with CIT & Darting? It would be foolish and dishonest of me to say that CIT is without risk to the subject animal. BUT it would be true to say that the risks are no more than those associated with a badly designed trap, an inappropriate trap, the incorrect use of a Collarum, or indeed the effects of causing an animal to needlessly cross busy roads or railways.

Any form of sedation and/or anaesthesia will always carry risks. There is always the risk of dart trauma through incorrect dart placement. There is always a risk with incorrect drug choice or dose rate calculations.

In order to eliminate or minimise risk as far as possible It is incumbent on the operator of such equipment to ensure that the risks are negated as far as possible. That can only be achieved by training, gaining experience under professional guidance and undertaking ongoing CPD as well as evaluation through operational skills testing, evaluation and assessments.

CIT is not for the faint hearted, mainly because of the multitude of variables that can come into play, and what can initially look like a straightforward process can quickly escalate into a life-threatening environment for both the animal and those involved. It is therefore imperative that only true professionals are engaged to carry out this highly specialised facet of animal capture. At ACUK and CCUK we pride ourselves in having that capability based not simply on certificates, but a solid track record of professional experience.

We all hope for the best in any case of a lost pet, but hope in itself is simply not enough to maximise the chances of getting them home safely. Sometimes there is a need to recognise when something isnt working, and appreciate that the longer it is allowed to go on not working, the more the risks to the animal are compounded.

For full details on the services that we provide in so far as CIT and Darting is concerned, please contact us on 01264 811155, or email us on [email protected]

By Mike Allison, May 30 2018 09:13PM


Losing your dog can be one of the most stressful and upsetting experiences, and the longer it remains unrecovered the more these emotions are compounded. It is at these times that owners can be at their most vulnerable and at these times, choosing a capture team can be done more though desperation than an informed decision. At best it can be a risky business, and at worst it could end in heartbreak.

Firstly it is important for owners to know that few capture operations are identical and vary from a straightforward capture to a highly complex multi-faceted operation requiring specialist skills and equipment. The specific capture management protocols will be driven by the dog's breed, its background, the location and the specific circumstances surrounding its escape/loss. There may be many other factors involved that dictate a targeted approach.

Animal Capture UK/Canine Capture UK feel it is our duty to inform owners on what they need to look for before engaging a capture team, and some of the questions they need to ask to ensure that the correct choice is made.

1) EXPERIENCE - what experience does the team have? It is not uncommon for operators to claim to have many years of experience when in reality they may have had very little. Your particular set of circumstances may dictate that specialist skills are deployed.

2) QUALIFICATIONS - for general capture, qualifications may not be necessary, although when high-tech systems such as drones and Chemical Immobilisation Technology (CIT) are used then there will almost always be a licensing requirement. Ask what qualifications the team members have to substantiate their claims of experience, and ensure that the qualification/licence is current. Check that the qualifications do actually exist, and that they are recognised by a UK-based awarding body.

3) EQUIPMENT - don't be afraid to ask what equipment the team uses, as sometimes inappropriate kit is used that can result in an injured dog, or 'educating' the dog never to go near such structures again. Once a botched capture has been attempted and the dog escapes, then its behavioural pattern will likely change and it may require a completely different approach.

4) REFERENCES - If the team have many years of experience, then there will be references and testimonials that can bear out that claim. Make sure the testimonials and references are bona-fide, as so many can simply be made up. References from Veterinary Surgeons are ideal, but ensure that the Vet supports the actual area of operation under which the team and/or its individual members are claiming to have experience.

5) COSTS - many teams provide their services free of charge, but when you get into the realms of hiring cameras, traps and engaging specialist skills then there is almost certainly going to be a cost. Ensure that you get a good idea of costs up front, and preferably in writing (email or physical letter) to ensure that there are no disputes at the end.

6) WEBSITES & SOCIAL MEDIA - a simple google search will normally bring you information about people/groups and don't be afraid to check out claims on them. Some website and facebook photos can be stock photos, or simply cut and pasted from other un-related sites. Ask questions about some of the pictures. Where were they taken? When? Ask to speak to the people who feature in them. Any reluctance to do that should trigger suspicion.

By following these six simple rules, you can spare yourself hours, days or even weeks of stress and uncertainty.

If you need good advice, and to be pointed in the right direction for the most appropriate course of action, then a simple post on The Dog Trapping Team - Search & Rescue Network will give you a reliable start to help find your dog. For specialist capture advice for difficult dogs, then please contact Animal Capture UK/Canine Capture UK 01264 811155, or email [email protected]

IF YOU'RE GONNA DO IT, DO IT RIGHT! - Call Canine Capture UK.

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