HSUS Animal Care Expo
Nashville, Tennessee
May 8-11, 2013

Mark R. Johnson DVM
Why strive to handle fearful dogs in a compassionate way?
1. The dogs are easier to handle and will fight you less.
2. The...
C. What is an Alpha Dog?
The alpha dog is a teacher, not a bad dog. Let him teach you how to relax and do not
take his act...
D. Use Calming Signals
Calming signal help catching and handling dogs.
These are signals used by dogs to calm other dogs (...
D. Headcover/Towel
Headcovers & towels reduce animal stress. And they increase handler safety.
Quickmuzzle (Wolf Quickmuzz...
G. Greeting The Dog
Good posture is less threatening. Use calming signals.
Tines up and down below eye level.
Move in slow...
Make the crate inviting – cover if necessary; door hinge away from the wall.
Thread long lead thro...
One Cool Tool
An expert explains how to use the Y pole, a tool for working with fearful dogs

Bill Gilbert/Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter


Rub the Y pole on the dog’s cheek to greet her. This will calm the...
Increase Cat Adoptions
with Fancy Feet!
“SoftClaws colored nail caps have
proven to increase cat adoptions”

Bill Gilbert/...
Don’t approach the dog with two Y poles
at once. That is like two people talking in
each of your ears. The person us...
handle the dog in a calm, respectful manner
that is effective, humane, and safe for both
people and the dog. Give the dog ...
The Y pole is an extremely useful tool when working with
intractable dogs. For zoos, this tool is als...

Control Issues
Choosing and using poles to handle animals
safely and humanely

volved in the encounControl poles ...
connecting to the anima l, “minimizing the energy of conf lict,” understanding how your energy affects the animal,
The QUICK MUZZLE® for Wolves is based on our standard dog muzzle, with improvemen...
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Humane handling of fearful dogs johnson1

  1. 1. HUMANE HANDLING OF FEARFUL DOGS HSUS Animal Care Expo Nashville, Tennessee May 8-11, 2013 INSTRUCTOR Mark R. Johnson DVM Global Wildlife Resources, Inc. Bozeman, Montana Email: Website: Website Y Pole Page Training Library GWR Products Page Feral Dog Blog: YouTube Channel: GWRFeralDogs When facing a fearful or fear aggressive dog, it is often peoples’ nature or habit to react with a brute physical force, with a “them-against-us” attitude, and we end up fighting and forcing the dog to do our bidding. Of course the dog will likely struggle or fight back. However, most dogs do not want a struggle or even a conflict. We can take away most of the struggling by truly looking at the dog and looking at ourselves then use our best skills and attitudes along with new tools and techniques. The results are more humane, successful, safe, and professional. WORKSHOP OBJECTIVES 1. Describe a variety of tools and techniques for catching dogs by hand in a safe, humane, and efficient manner. 2. Learn compassionate physical restraint including: scruff, lateral restraint, leash muzzle wrap, and hobbles without adding energy to any struggle. 3. Recognize how you, the handler, is raising or lowering the tension of the dog and the situation. 4. Explore how to create a calm conscious manner to minimize the energy of conflict even with very uncooperative dogs. 5. Become familiar with the Y pole-what it is, how it works, and how to properly use it. 6. Discuss some basic netting equipment and techniques. 7. Learn ways of catching dogs in large enclosures. DO NOT ENTER I NTO ANY SI TUATI ON UNLESS YOU FEEL I T I S SAFE TO DO SO. Identify situations with fearful dogs What situations are we preparing for? 1
  2. 2. Why strive to handle fearful dogs in a compassionate way? 1. The dogs are easier to handle and will fight you less. 2. The dog handling will be easier, safer, and less stressful. 3. The dogs will give back your compassion so your job is more enjoyable. 4. It will improve the quality of the work environment. 5. Bringing compassion into the workplace strengthens the organization. 6. It builds positive community relationships. 7. For ACOS, compassionate handling teaches the dogs that are watching to feel safer. UNDERSTANDING THE DOG A. Communication Signals: What is the dog telling us? Communication signals are complex. Look at the entire dog. 1. Warning or Threatening Signals What are warning or threatening signals from a dog? 2. Understanding Aggression What types of aggression are there? 3. Body Language: Defensive Aggressive Active Aggressive 4. Signs of Nervousness What are the signals telling you the dog is nervous? 5. Signs of Friendship/Cooperation Playbow B. The Nature of Dog 1. Dogs want to resolve conflict. In a conflict – they only wish to escape or protect themselves Use calming signals to reassure the animal and minimize your aggressive nature. 2. Dogs are a domesticated and deeply connected to us. Most dogs will give us an “opening”. So we can work with their personality and behavior. They also know our intentions or body language. 3. Dogs have a pack mentality, want to know their status, and have a reflex to comply. The naturally submissive nature of dog, when it is present, is what allows us to work effectively with the Y pole. 4. The dog can be physically restrained. This can help us with physical exams and help us move the animal safely. 2
  3. 3. C. What is an Alpha Dog? The alpha dog is a teacher, not a bad dog. Let him teach you how to relax and do not take his actions personally. THE ANIMAL HANDLER A. Human Safety Is Highest Priority Dog bites are not a badge of honor. B. Be more than just physical. C. Self Awareness The best thing in handling fearful dogs is to look at ourselves first as we work. What does the dog see when he is looking at you? Continually observe yourself. Adjust your body language. Choose to stay calm & relaxed. It will calm and relax the dog. The crazier the situation gets, the calmer you should be. D. Work with very small moves. Dogs are very sensitive. Everything is fast and big to a fearful dog. Work at the dog’s pace, not yours. Do not directly face a fearful dog. E. Dominance Is Not A Bad Thing. There are good kinds of dominance. Call it guidance or leadership. Use compassionate dominance to guide the dogs. F. Time Is A Tool. Even if you are in a rush, at least connect with the animal and be present. Use time as deliberately as you use a tool. CONNECTING WITH THE ANIMAL - Dog and Handler A. Keep your attention on the animal at all times – stay connected B. Feel what kind of personality the dog has – and work with it Do not treat all dogs the same way. C. Practice “Give and Take” You do not (should not) have to force the animal to submit immediately. Give the animal time to think and make choices. Move a step at a time, pause, and see how the dog responds. Each of your actions will either tense or relax the dog. Study how you move. 3
  4. 4. D. Use Calming Signals Calming signal help catching and handling dogs. These are signals used by dogs to calm other dogs (or people) or to try to resolve a tense situation. 1. Slow down 2. Move in waves or steps. Stop, relax, pause. Look to see if the dog responds, then move again. 3. Avoid face on contact Angle your body Angle your head – relax and occasionally look away without dropping your guard 4. Sniff or yawn to relax the situation Convey disinterest even though you are focused to catch or handle the dog E. Understand that your energy affects the animal Our calmness will help calm the animal. Our kindness will help the animal feel more safe. F. Minimize The Energy of Conflict Who is creating the fight? The dog is only trying to protect itself or escape. Feel your intentions and listen to your stories and thoughts. Are you determined to win? And strive not to let the energy escalate. Move in steps and lower the energy as you pause. PHYSICAL RESTRAINT AND HANDLING EQUIPMENT Emphasize calm and compassionate physical control rather than forceful action. When the animal is struggling & your hands are tense, your mind & heart should be relaxed. A. Scruffing Three steps: 1. Ear in the notch of the thumb. Thumbs will be parallel. 2. Fingers together and point to the corner of the mouth. Be careful. 3. Squeeze and make them grin. Only use as much strength as you need to accomplish your goal. Option: One handed scruff, add leash muzzle wrap, then add towel. B. Lateral restraint Dog on his side. Forearm over the first neck bone. Hold the front lower leg above the elbow. Cover the head with a towel. C. Hobbling Not commonly used. Valuable for moving an uncooperative dog with headcover. Only use with headcovers/towel. 4
  5. 5. D. Headcover/Towel Headcovers & towels reduce animal stress. And they increase handler safety. Quickmuzzle (Wolf Quickmuzzle: Four Flags Over Aspen; Use towels with all kinds of handling – physical restraint, netting, Y pole, carrying dog. Note: People are most often bit by the small, friendly looking dogs they trust. Consider a leash muzzle wrap and towel for when carrying dogs, unless they get more upset. The Y POLE A. What is a Y pole? Read HSUS Y Pole article: One Cool Tool. Aluminum Y-shaped pole varying in size to match the dogs. Padded tines so teeth cannot touch metal. B. What is its Purpose? It is a safe extension of our hand to convey compassion and request. A safer way to reach in to work with the dog. Can be used to guide a dog into a crate or down the hall. Can be used with a net to create faster and quieter restraint. Can be used before a syringe pole for the most difficult dogs. C. The Y Pole Will Not Work with All Dogs Free ranging dogs need to be cornered. Alpha dogs will only fight it. Dogs previously beaten with a stick may never trust it and try to flee. Flighty dogs with closeness issues. The more you practice, the more dogs will comply. D. Contrast with Catch Pole Avoids the horrible struggles It can only pin. Only works if the animal is in a corner or room or pen. Usually requires a second or third person. Conveys a more compassionate relationship and message. Blends with the animal. Requires us to be less forceful. We offer a request rather than a command. E. How/Why Does It Work? The dog is a pack animal. It grows up with a submissive reflex to survive. The Y pole utilizes this behavior. The Y pole is 75% psychological and 25% physical. It is not used physically like a stick to pin the animal. It should never be demeaning or punitive. Most dogs are MORE friendly after being properly handled with the Y pole. F. Setting Up The Situation A confined location in a corner or kennel. A cooperative dog – willing to stand and be greeted Several calm people who understand how to use the Y pole psychologically. 5
  6. 6. G. Greeting The Dog Good posture is less threatening. Use calming signals. Tines up and down below eye level. Move in slow in steps. Pause and relax. Sense when you are too slow. Stop at times if the animal is panicking and settle. Make a friend with the Y pole. Offer the tine to the corner of the mouth. Then pet the base of the ear. Then pet the neck. Rest the Y pole over the neck. Never look away. Cover the head. Second Y pole on hip? H. Things You Can Do with the Y Pole Physical restraint with scruff, muzzle wrap and towel to move animal Lift legs and wait until the dog tires and settles to put the dog on its side. Physical exam or vaccinations Chemical immobilization. I. What Not to do Don’t use the Y pole in a negative way. Don’t look away when the Y pole is on the animal and people are working NETS A. Construction - wide hoop and 6 feet deep. Sources: Salmon nets – Beckman and Frabill with coated netting B. Techniques - catch and twist net with Y pole assistant Along wall or fence – invite them to run past you, then change your mind. Sleeping dog – settle net over dog with net away from you. Tug net toward you. Carry dog on top twisted in net and covered with towel. C. Accessories Don’t use nets by themselves. Add Y pole and towel. CATCH POLE A valuable took for ACOs handling free-ranging dogs. A very last choice for shelter workers. Offer the Y pole first. The crazier the animal gets, the calmer you should be. Use the catch pole like a Y pole. A. Proper construction – swivel head B. Proper technique Understand that the message of the snare around the dog’s neck is working against you to work compassionately with the dog. Walk the dog in front of you. Calm and relaxed. Help the animal find a calm place. Reward the animal by decreasing pull or pressure. C. Things not to do – Do not pull, do not lift. Use for short periods and short distances. Don’t use it when there are better ways. 6
  7. 7. VARI-KENNELS AND CRATES Make the crate inviting – cover if necessary; door hinge away from the wall. Thread long lead through crate. Guide dog into crate with the Y pole – moving the animal along the wall. Your angle to the dog and wall is key. Move slow. Remember to move in waves – pressure, pause, pressure, pause. Another person takes in the lead slack without pulling on the dog. Working a fearful dog in a large area Move in a line with calmness and move in waves: Pause and relax. Then move again. Don’t rush the dog. Give him time to think. A net and Y pole can be at the end near a wall. Add a 25 ft long burlap barrier. IMPORTANT!: Debrief after every difficult dog handling Learn from every animal and every colleague REFERENCES 1. ASPCA Pro Webinars “Leash Skills and Body Language” “Canine Communication: Understanding Canine Body Language” “The Effect of Human Body Language on Dog Behavior” 2. “Calming Signals – What Your Dog Tells You”. Video by Turid Rugaas 3. Dog Language: An Encyclopedia of Canine Behaviour. Roger Abrantes. Wakan Tanka Publishers. 1997 4. Dog Behaviour, Evolution, and Cognition. Adam Miklosi. Oxford University Press. 2008 5. “One Cool Tool – An expert explains how to use the Y pole, a tool for working with fearful dogs.” By Mark R. Johnson DVM. Animal Sheltering Magazine Sept/Oct 2010. Pp. 37-41. 6. “Control Issues” by James Hettinger. Animal Sheltering Magazine Jan/Feb 2013. Pp. 16-17. WORKSHOP HANDOUTS 1. 2. 3. 4. The “Y” Pole: One Cool Tool. Animal Sheltering Magazine Sept/Oct 2010. Making a Y Pole Control Issues. Animal Sheltering Magazine Jan/Feb 2013. Four Flags Over Aspen Quick Muzzle Handout 7
  8. 8. 101 One Cool Tool An expert explains how to use the Y pole, a tool for working with fearful dogs By Mark R. Johnson, D.V.M. One of your animal control officers has brought in a dog found roaming the streets. The dog has a collar, and through her matted hair you can see an ID tag. But no matter how calmly you approach the dog, she is so fearful you cannot safely touch her. The dog becomes defensively aggressive, and you have to back off. You need to handle this dog to provide the best care and to read her tag, but the dog refuses to cooperate. What are your options? The Traditional Catch Pole T he comm on o ption for working w ith uncooperative dogs is the catch pole (also known as the control pole or the snare pole). Every shelter in North America has one or knows what it is. It is the tool most ACOs and shelter staff resort to when a dog refuses to be handled. The catch pole is a valuable and fundamental tool for the ACO, allowing an officer to work safely with potentially dangerous dogs and to catch a dog who may not be captured with a leash. With the catch pole, a properly trained ACO can catch a dog out in the open so that the animal does not have to be cornered. This is one of its most important assets. And when necessary, the catch pole also allows an ACO to work by himself, because it controls a dog in every direction she might try to move. Unfortunately, the catch pole is not very forgiving, because if things go wrong and the dog vigorously fights the snare pole, she can become seriously injured and may even be killed. And it is not forgiving because, in effect, the snare pole motivates a dog to fight to protect herself, since a loop around the neck is very threatening and can easily inspire a dog’s fear. In addition, the control that the catch pole provides allows significant potential for abuse. Having problems with a dog? Grab the catch pole. Is the dog fighting hard? Fight back harder. If a shelter worker or ACO is not extremely attentive to the amount of force he uses, this tool can actually escalate the energy and aggravate the fight between human and dog. Without a measured, deliberate approach, the catch pole can influence the handler to be sloppy or overly aggressive. For this reason, the catch pole should be used only as a last resort. As often as possible, shelter staff and ACOs should seek humane alternatives. Used correctly, the Y pole can be one of these. What Is a Y Pole? I learned about the Y pole working with captive-wolf facilities. It is an effective and FIND animal sheltering ON FACEBOOK AND FIND A COMMUNIT Y OF FELLOW ANIMAL LOVERS ! 37
  9. 9. Bill Gilbert/Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter [101] Rub the Y pole on the dog’s cheek to greet her. This will calm the dog, and let her know that the Y pole will not hurt her. humane tool for handling captive wolves without chemical immobilization. Years ago, managers of captive-wolf programs noticed how quietly most wolves would submit to the calm use of the Y pole. It was not only amazingly calming and effective, it also allowed people to conduct physical exams, vaccinations, and minor treatments without fighting or drugging the animals. I see the same potential for the Y pole in shelters, and teach those who handle dogs about the Y pole, because I believe it embodies a compassionate approach to working with fractious canids in a calm, respectful manner. Having used it effectively with hundreds of dogs, I believe that every professional working with dogs should know about the Y pole. Shelter workers, animal control officers, disaster responders, those rescuing dogs from puppy mills and hoarding cases, and trap / neuter/release programs may all benefit from knowing how to use this simple tool. The Y pole is simply a “Y”-shaped metal pole with a long handle—typically 4 and a half feet long, with 6-inch tines forming the Y. But it can be made to any size. The tines are heavily padded with rubber so, should a dog bite it, his teeth will never touch the metal. Bill Gilbert/Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter How Does It Work? Place the Y pole on the dog’s neck without forcing her to the wall or ground. The contact on her neck echoes the way wild dogs communicate. 38 Animal Sheltering september /october 2010 ANIMALSHELTERING.ORG The Y pole is not a pin stick—it is not used to physically force the animal down. Rather, it is an extension of the human hand that can be used to safely and compassionately enter the animal’s personal space, touch her, and convince her to relax. Used properly—with dominance and compassion—the Y pole’s control is 75 percent psychological and only 25 percent physical. An officer’s calmness and smooth movements will allow him to touch the dog while communicating to her that it is safe to submit. One of the main reasons the Y pole works on dogs is because of their pack mentality. In the wild, dogs and other canids quickly learn to submit to more dominant animals in the pack. The Y pole placed across the dog’s neck imitates the same pressure he could get from the jaws of dominant dogs. When the Y pole is used properly, there is nothing punitive or demeaning for the dog. With this compassionate extension of the
  10. 10. Increase Cat Adoptions with Fancy Feet! “SoftClaws colored nail caps have proven to increase cat adoptions” Bill Gilbert/Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter –reported by HSUS of Vero Beach, Florida, Sheltering Magazine July 2007 Place a towel over the dog’s head without moving too fast and scaring her. hand, an interaction can actually build more trust and tolerance between the dog and her handler. Many people learning about the Y pole have said that, in order to successfully use it, they would have to redefine their concepts, change habits, and interact with each dog in a whole new way. The Y pole requires us to invite the dog to participate in the handling rather than continue our usual habit of forcing ourselves on the dog to catch her. Other people are enthusiastic about the tool for the same reasons, and have told me that their desire to work with fearful dogs with calmness, compassion, and respect is embodied in the Y pole because it requires them to be steadily mindful of being compassionate and helping the dog feel safe. How to Use a Y Pole Setting Up the Situation To successfully handle a dog with a Y pole, the dog must be contained. She can be in a large pen or room, or in a small kennel. If the animal is in a large pen, you must reduce the space available to her; a “wall” of calm people can slowly move a dog into a corner. But be sensitive and respon- sive to the dog’s behavior and personality. Instead of putting steady pressure on the dog as you move her and continuing that way, move in waves. Take a few steps, then stop and settle. Take another few steps, then stop and settle. With most dogs, you can do this in a way that calms the animal and lowers everyone’s energy. (For an example, watch the video “Using Dominance to Humanely Catch a Wolf” on Dr. Mark’s Feral Dog Blog.) Approaching the Dog It is best if you have three people on hand, though two can be effective. Two people carry Y poles, and one carries a towel. The lead person will first greet the animal and will eventually use the pole on the neck. This is all about guiding the animal while helping her feel safe to cooperate. If you are calm and relaxed, it will help calm the dog. If the dog is a candidate for the Y pole, she will eventually settle into a corner. She may be standing or lying down, but she will not be trying to flee with your every movement. Hold the Y pole so the padded tines are directly up and down. Keep the fork at the dog’s eye level or slightly lower, and slowly Shelter visitors easily become cat adopters knowing Soft Claws nail caps: Help protect them and their children from playful scratches Help protect their home furnishings Easy to apply and each application lasts up to six weeks 1 1. Trim nails 2 2. Apply adhesive to caps 3 3. Apply caps to nails 4 4. Observe for 5 minutes To purchase contact: Pet Edge - 800.738.3343 Ryan’s Pet Supplies - 800.525.7387 For special adoption programs call: Soft Claws direct 800.762.7877 x508 FIND animal sheltering ON FACEBOOK AND FIND A COMMUNIT Y OF FELLOW ANIMAL LOVERS ! Soft Claws is a registered trademark of Soft Paws, Inc., Lafayette, LA. Patents #4,962,731, #7,069,879, # D564,713S other patents pending. Product components made in USA and China. Distributed exclusively by SmartPractice, 39
  11. 11. [101] Don’t approach the dog with two Y poles at once. That is like two people talking in each of your ears. The person using the Y pole on the hips should be a little behind the person using the pole on the neck. The neck person is in charge. n Don’t be tense—the dog can feel your tension and will be more tense. Teach yourself to relax. Take a slow breath, and consciously relax your shoulders. Bill Gilbert/Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter n A towel on the dog’s head can comfort her, as well as make things safer for the handler. move toward the dog, a few steps at a time, then stop and settle. Each time, move a few steps, then settle and allow the dog to recognize that she’s still safe as you move closer. This—moving into the animal and moving with the animal at the same time, without scaring her—is the most difficult part to learn. As you move, do not focus on catching or controlling the dog. Focus on greeting the animal with kindness so she feels safe. Remember: Think of the Y pole as a compassionate extension of your hand; let the animal know that the Y pole is not a threat. Take your time. Engaging the Dog Move the pole toward the corner of the dog’s mouth and let her bite the Y pole if she wants to. Don’t react—when she bites, do not pull back with the pole. That will only encourage her to bite more and will make her feel less safe. Let her chew on it until she gets bored. As she settles, consider rubbing the tip of one fork below her ear and later on the neck, like petting. Let her relax and accept the situation. Once she settles or submits, pet her a few more times with the Y pole, then gently slide the pole across her neck, pause, and relax. At this time, consider covering her head with the towel, or use the sec40 ond Y pole on her hip and then apply the towel. Covering the eyes is important because it reduces the dog’s stress and increases your safety. Be aware of the vertical angle of your handle. If your handle is too high, the dog might be able to slip under the Y pole. If it is too low, there may be an opening above the Y pole. With a Y pole in place and a towel on the head, the animal can be handled in many ways. You can examine a surgical site, conduc t a physical exam, give vaccinations and minor treatment s, or administer chemical capture drugs with a hand syringe or pole syringe. You can also physically restrain her with a head-cover and hobbles (a belt-like strap used to safely and humanely restrain a dog while she’s being carried), so she can be moved to another location. By placing the Y pole in front of you and guiding the dog in a soft way, you can also use it to guide her into a transport crate or into another kennel, if there is an open path to it. What Not to Do With the Y Pole Don’t poke the animal, or use it in a way that decreases her sense of trust and safety. n Animal Sheltering september /october 2010 ANIMALSHELTERING.ORG What the Y Pole Cannot Do The Y pole cannot catch free -ranging dogs. The dog must be confined —to a room, to a large pen. It will work in most restricted spaces—but there must be some degree of confinement in order for the ps ycholo gic al res traint to b e effective. n The Y pole is not effective with every dog. Some dogs may be too skittish and leap away any time the Y pole is moved in their direction. Some “alpha dogs” may refuse to submit. If an alpha dog must be handled, then the Y pole can be used to restrain or distract the dog long enough to give anesthetics with a syringe pole. But some of what the Y pole cannot do is good : You cannot harm dogs the way that you can with a catch pole. If a problem occurs, you simply back away and start again. The Y pole also cannot be used in a fast way or at the pace of the handler. The Y pole must be used at the dog’s pace. This is a good thing, because instead of forcing a dog to cooperate, we are asking the dog to cooperate. It’s more respectful, more compassionate, and more humane. P ra c t i ce w i t h f r i e n d l y d o g s to g e t a fe eling for how to conne c t w ith the animals and succes s fully interac t w ith them. Although it is ver y difficult using the Y pole with a goofy, friendly dog who only wants to play, it is great practice, and when properly used, it will not be stressful for the dog. Animal shelters, spay/neuter programs, and groups responding to disasters and hoarding cases of ten have to handle difficult dogs who cannot be safely caught with bare hands. Too often these situations turn into a fight, with animals injured and handlers bitten. The ideal solution is to n
  12. 12. handle the dog in a calm, respectful manner that is effective, humane, and safe for both people and the dog. Give the dog a chance to cooperate. Reach for the Y pole, calm yourself, and enjoy the improved interactions that are possible. Resources Go to the Y Pole Page on the w e b s i t e fo r G l o b a l W i l d l i fe Resources Inc. at wildliferesources. org/the-y-pole/. n Read articles about the Y pole a n d w a tc h i t b e i n g u s e d i n the video “Using Dominance to Humanely Catch a Wolf” on Johnson’s Feral Dog Blog, (Click on the video category for the latter.) n To p u r c h a s e a Y p o l e, v i s i t Tomahawk Live Trap at livetrap. com; Heart of the Earth Animal Eq u i p m e nt a t a n i m a l - t r a ps . com; Animal Care Equipment Ser vices at animal- ; or Global Wildlife Resources at n M a r k J o h n s o n , D .V. M . , i s a w i l d l i f e vete rinarian and e xe cutive dire c tor of Global Wildlife Resources Inc., a nonprofit organization specializing in humane animal capture and handling. In the past 10 years, he has directed his expertise toward improving the lives of people and dogs, and has handled more than 2,000 feral dogs throughout the world, including the Caribbean, India, and tribal lands, and during three rescue operations after Hurricane Katrina. He is the author of the Feral Dog Blog. FIND animal sheltering ON FACEBOOK AND FIND A COMMUNIT Y OF FELLOW ANIMAL LOVERS ! 41
  13. 13. HOW TO MAKE A Y POLE The Y pole is an extremely useful tool when working with intractable dogs. For zoos, this tool is also great to humanely handle or drug wolves and coyotes. It is used as a safe extension of your hand to teach the dog or wolf that it is safe to submit and allow the Y pole to be placed across its neck. From that point you cover the head and can then conduct physical exams, collect blood, or administer anesthetics. For this to work, the handler must convey dominance with compassion and work in a calm and kind manner. Every animal shelter should have a Y pole for handling fractious dogs in a calm way. In many shelter situations, the Y pole replaces the use of a snare pole which results in a much better outcome. Because the Y pole can restrain a dog without the risks and stresses associated with a snare pole, it allows the handler to develop a quieter, more respectful relationship with the animal. How can I make a Y pole? To build a Y pole, find a welder who works with aluminum, so the Y pole will be both light and strong. The handle is typically about 4.5 feet (1.37 meters) long. Weld 6 inch (15cm) tines to the handle in the shape of a “Y” so the tines form a 70-80 degree angle. This is a good size for handling most dogs. Note that if the tines are too long, the dog’s head will slip out, so it is better to have shorter tines. Y poles can be made in different lengths and shapes to address a variety of animals and situations. For the first layer, thoroughly cover both tines with a rugged material to prevent the dog’s teeth from touching the metal. This can be either automotive heater hose or many layers of bicycle inner tubing. Reinforce this first layer with duct tape then add the second layer using closed-cell foam. (Closed-cell foam does not soak up water.) The easiest foam to work with in the U.S. is pipe insulation shaped like a long tube. Then add many, many layers of duct tape as tight as possible. Don’t forget to cover the ends well. There should be no place where you can feel the metal of the tines. The padding and tape will protect the animal’s teeth when they bite on the pole. Y poles can also be purchased either from Heart of the Earth Animal Equipment or from Global Wildlife Resources. For more information on the Y pole and how to use it, visit our Y Pole webpage, our Feral Dog Blog, and our YouTube Channel: GWRFeralDog 1
  14. 14. [scoop] Control Issues Choosing and using poles to handle animals safely and humanely volved in the encounControl poles have sparked debate for ter, he adds. decades. Control poles have Dave Pauli, an HSUS senior director developed a bad image for wildlife response, calls control or catch because of highly pubpoles “the most misused animal handling l ici z ed c a ses where tool in the industry.” workers misused them When Pauli visits shelters, he asks the to s t r a ng le or b e at ACOs to produce their catch poles, then holds animals, notes Mark them up in the air to inspect them. If they’re Control poles used properly (as shown here by ACO Michael Lindsey) are a Kumpf, director of the straight and have a few tooth marks in them, safe and humane way to handle fearful dogs, but misuse can harm animals and draw negative attention to an agency. Montgomery County “they’re being used properly,” he says. “But Animal Res­ource Cen­ter most catch poles in the United States have a Shaw asserts that many officers don’t in Dayton, Ohio. But he says that image is slight arc, because they’re using them as a liftget enough training. “A lot of people are a bad rap: At most agencies, control poles ing tool,” often to hoist a dog—or, worse, a cat shown a tool, and sort of told how to use are used appropriately by trained, comor a wild animal—into their truck. it, and then just put in a spot to use it, and passionate professionals. Using a catch pole that way essentially that’s never a good way to go.” “We don’t hear about the thousands turns it into a noose, and the animals Kumpf shakes his head in disbelief at of cases where this piece of essentia l trapped within it typically react accordreports of ACOs using control poles to lift equipment is used properly, humanely, ingly. The practice, which may be driven dogs into cages. “Come on, folks: Work safely, and effectively,” Kumpf says. by a lack of officer training, has been a smarter, not harder,” he says. “It’s a tool, Training—available through classes, source of concern and even cruelty charges and any tool that’s used improperly can videos, handouts, and practical demonin some communities. cause a host of problems, the least of which strations—is key to promoting the proper Other veteran field officers agree that is damage to your image, and the most of use of control poles, Kumpf says. Lack of control poles have the potential to be which could be the unfortunate demise of training is a problem at some agencies, both humane animal handling tools and an animal.” he adds, because officers don’t have a role dangerous weapons. model to demonstrate “They’re an excellent the equipment. tool, as long as you’re not Polar Opposites “If you don’t train dragging an animal, [or] Along with ensuring that their officers people properly, you you’re not using that tool learn to use a control pole properly, agendon’t educate them on as a pickup device,” says cies should also be aware of other options how and how not to Rowdy Shaw, senior field out there. As the animal control field use a piece of equipresponder for The HSUS’s evolves, its equipment evolves with it. ment, then essentially Animal Rescue Team. One proponent of an alternative tool— whatever outcome A control pole can be the Y pole—is Mark Johnson. As a veteran you get is what you’ve used to block an onrushing wildlife veterinarian who holds a black belt signed up for,” Kumpf aggressive dog from biting, in the Japanese martial art aikido, Johnson Y poles are a less-threatening alternative for maneuvering dogs says. “… You just don’t Shaw says, and it also gives brings a unique perspective to handling within a kennel, such as this fearful put a piece of equipthe dog a moment to figure fearful dogs. dog at Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter in Bozeman, Mont. The me nt i n s ome one ’s out the situation and calm Animal handling situations are “not a handler keeps the tines vertical, hand and say, ‘Go out down. Animals are often fight for someone to win or lose,” he says. with the top tine below the eyes, and the dog can bite it if he wants. and use this.’” as scared as anyone else inHe peppers his speech with talk about 16 Animal Sheltering january | february 2013 ANIMALSHELTERING.ORG From top: Michelle Riley/The HSUS; Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter By James Hettinger
  15. 15. connecting to the anima l, “minimizing the energy of conf lict,” understanding how your energy affects the animal, “compassionate dominance,” and removing the us-vs.-them mentality. “He did an outstanding job of interacting with the employees here,” says James Rogers, administrator of the Memphis Animal Shelter (MAS) in Tennessee, where Johnson presented a training session in May. “He’s a very down-to-earth, get-itdone type of person” who effectively demonstrated his methodology and how it can work in shelters, Rogers adds. MAS drew criticism earlier in 2012 when a video surfaced showing shelter staff lifting and dragging animals with catch poles. Following Johnson’s training, MAS has limited its use of catch poles in the shelter to extremely vicious dogs, opting instead to primarily use the Y pole. Johnson says the concepts he teaches are instinctive for any good ACO, and he’s found success taking his message to animal handlers far and wide. He says he’s on a mission: He wants to make shelters throughout North America aware of the Y pole, which he contends can replace the traditional catch pole in virtually all shelter situations. Catch poles are convenient, Johnson says, noting that they can be used by one person to control a dog in an open area. But their big drawback, he explains, is that placing a loop around an animal’s neck can be life-threatening for the animal. Y poles, in contrast, create a relationship with the dog that’s based on trust and cooperation, Johnson asserts. Typically made of metal and measuring about 4.5 feet—with 6-inch forks covered in rubber, foam, and tape—the Y-shaped poles serve as an extension of the human hand, he says. “You extend your ‘hand’ with kindness, using all of the skills an ACO has for moving around a dog.” The Y pole is not a physical pin stick, Johnson adds, and it won’t work to capture, say, a dog roaming free in a parking lot; the animal has to be cornered in some way. He first encountered Y poles while working with captive wolves, and found they can also be perfect for fear-aggressive dogs in contained areas such as kennels. He concedes that some people are skeptical of Y poles, thinking that they won’t give the handler enough control. “And anyone who says, ‘This is a stick, and it won’t work’ is completely correct, because they will handle it like a stick,” he adds. “For those who truly see the dog, who know how to move around a dog in a way that softens the dog, that’s where it’s going to work.” n For more information on the Y pole, go to WORKING TOGETHER TO PREVENT THE BIRTH OF UNPLANNED PETS 2013 Spay/Neuter Targeted and Free Roaming Cat Grant Application Cycles: February 15 - March 26 July 15 – September 3 What Are We Looking For? Watch our webinar on High Impact Spay/Neuter Grants! Visit • 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations and government agencies eligible • Grants available for up to $100,000 a year for up to 2 years ($200,000 maximum) • Grants available for Trap-Neuter-Return (Free-Roaming Cats) and Owned Pets (Targeted) CELEBR ATE WORLD SPAY DAY! SPAYDAY.ORG 17
  16. 16. QUICK MUZZLE® FOR WOLVES OTHER WILDLIFE The QUICK MUZZLE® for Wolves is based on our standard dog muzzle, with improvements to better accommodate short term wolf restraint by wildlife professionals. Mark R. Johnson, DVM of Global Wildlife Resources, Inc. was instumental in providing the design additions for this project. Four Flags Over Aspen, Inc. incorporated those ideas into our original QUICK MUZZLE® to better serve Dr. Johnson’s work with the 1995-96 Yellowstone Wolf Reintroduction Program. FEATURES FOR WOLF HANDLING INCLUDE: • Our original style features a webbing reinforced body made of washable, lightweight, nylon pack cloth. • To provide a dark, calming environment, we’ve added a soft, dark, double-thick ripstop nylon eye-cover. • A double-bar buckle with ample web to keep the muzzle buckled at all times. The free strap adjusts quickly for a secure fit. An elastic strap is added for a more comfortable fit. *A side-release buckle is also available. • A safety cord designed to attach to a belt-loop, wrist or other secure place, in the event that the muzzled wolf escapes. The cord would remove the muzzle, leaving the wolf free of restraint. AVAILABLE IN SIZE SEVEN SIZES Size SIZING GUIDE End of Snout Snout Length Circumference Approx Weight Price 10 or more per size M, L XL $13/ea. $11/ea. XXL XXXL $15/ea $12/ea. 4XL 5XL $19/ea. $16/ea. This is a custom order, please add a standard $5 per order charge. Medium 6.5” 1.75” 25–45 lbs. Large 7.5” 2.25” 45–60 lbs. X-Large 8.5” 3” 60–80 lbs. XX-Large 10” 3.5” 80–100 lbs. XXX-Large 11” 4.25” 100–120 lbs. 4XL Size 12” 3.25” 120–150 lbs. 5XL 14” 4.25” 150–200 lbs. IMPORTANT! Safe, Responsible Muzzle Use RESPONSIBLE USE: Please remember, the QUICK MUZZLE® is a temporary restraint designed to reduce the risk of bites, but as with any restraint, it isn’t foolproof. A muzzle is to be used with another method of restraint, with the animal handler holding the ultimate responsibility for safe control. SUPERVISED, SHORT-TERM USE: With a proper, snug fit, the animal’s ability to pant is reduced, which could compromise the animal’s natural cooling system. Under certain conditions, this could produce a life-threatening situation. * Manufactured by Four Flags Over Aspen, Inc. • PO Box 190, St. Clair, MN 56080 • 800-222-9263 •