The American Pet Products Association (APPA) says that 68 percent of U.S. households owned some sort of pet in 2016. While many of us who are pet owners think we understand animal behavior through our own pets, much more knowledge is needed for NVADG volunteers working under disaster conditions.

Butte County Animal Control and the Northwest SPCA recently presented the Small Animal Handling class for a group of NVADG volunteers and topics covered included cat handling/loading, dog handling, dog loading, and an introduction to aggressive dog handling.

When asked “what is the most common mistake folks make when handling animals in the field?” Butte County Animal Control Program Manager Ryan Soulsby, RVT, said “it’s remembering that we are entering the animals’ territory and we have to proceed with that in mind. In the shelter we have to remember that the animals are stressed and will not act the same as when they are at home. Sometimes that is a good thing and sometime a bad thing.” Soulsby feels that “this class offers a wide range of experiences that many volunteers may already know but have never thought about in a tangible way. The volunteers get hands-on training with a live animal to help teach our basic protocols in a real-life situation. Anyone can tell you to watch the door, so no animals get out, but it isn’t until you get in the kennel with four Chihuahua’s that all want out for you to really see it in action.”

NVADG volunteer Quené Hansen feels that she while she has taken a proactive approach to her own pet ownership, she did appreciate the opportunity to test out some of the tools employed by animal control, “specifically, the snappy-snares and the stiff leash. Being shown the larger live trap was a new resource for me, too.” She added that “Gaining the skills to help other agencies with the disasters that impact them is an amazing opportunity and I am thankful my schedule is flexible enough that I am able to take advantage of the brain trust available to us with NVADG.”

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