Techniques for Catching Stray Dogs

I want to share a few techniques that I used to cut down on the time you spend on dealing with shy stray dogs.  The first thing that should go through your mind when seeing a dog that you think is running loose is to decide if your assessment is correct.  Is the dog really running at large?

Many laws state that an animal that is not constrained within its owner’s property is considered at large.  It makes perfect sense because an unconfined dog can rush out to harass a child on the sidewalk; however, I would discourage impounding the dog unless you see the dog leave its yard.  I think a citation or warning is better suited to these situations.  You do not want to develop a reputation in your community for stealing dog from their property, even if it is lawful.

For dogs that you see running loose in the street, you should first attempt to chase the dog home.  I have witnessed many animal control officer choose to impound all loose dogs and take them to the animal shelter so that they don’t have to deal with the dog’s owner.  If an animal control officer is not doing everything in their power to return a dog to its owner, then he or she is just a dogcatcher.  Using citations in the field is an effective means to keep your animal shelter from becoming overcrowded.  Also, a large segment of pet owners will abandon their pets.  Returning a pet to the owner helps prevent owners from abandoning their pets.  Even if they refuse to take their pet back, they still violated the law and deserve a citation.

As per my writing style, I am going on a short tangent.  Many animal control officers want shelter staff to issue citations when the owners come into the shelter to reclaim their pets.  If you are charging pet owners impound fees, then I believe a citation for the dog running at large is a duplicate charge and is unnecessary.  The same goes with licensing violations; if you require the purchase of a dog license when the animal is reclaimed, then issuing a citation for a license violation becomes a moot issue.  Most judges would throw out the citation and it becomes a waste of everyone’s time.

Okay, back on topic.  I usually carry SMALL chocolate chip cookies with me on patrol  They make for a good treat to encourage a dog to come over to me as I gently place a leash on the dog.  I know what you are thinking, but I have never lost a dog to chocolate poisoning.  The chocolate chip cookie is such an effective method for catching dogs that I have encountered dogs that would come out to my truck to get his cookie.

Another technique that works with the chocolate cookie is driving up beside a dog and opening your car door and asking the dog if he or she wants to go for a ride.  Just like using the cooking, I have had dogs that would come out to my vehicle to ride around with me in the front seat.

Having a dog riding with you makes it easier to catch other dog.  If you see a stray dog, you can climb out of your vehicle and start playing with your dog.  When the other dog sees the fun that you are having, he or she might want to get involved in the play.

Anytime you see a group of dogs together, you might assume that one of the dogs is in heat.  If you identify that dog, the other dogs will follow you anywhere.  I once picked up a group of seven or eight dogs using this method; that is why you need to carry a bunch of leashes with you when you get out of your vehicle.

A snappy snare is one of the most effective means to catch a running dog.  Ketchpoles are not effective catching a running dog; they are best used when you have a dog cornered.

If you use livetraps in catching hard to catch dogs, when a food attractant isn’t getting a dog to enter the trap, you might considering capturing urine from dogs in heat on gauze pads.  You can keep the gauze pads in baggies in the freezer for when they are needed.

Using chemical capture techniques should only be used when the dog presents a threat to public safety.  It is important to maintain your proficiency when using this method.

Keep in mind that no matter what technique you use, if you do not make the capture a fun activity for the dog, you may never be able to use that technique again.