January 14, 2014
In the Field for Animals
HSUS Senior Advisor for Response & Policy Dave Pauli recently traveled to Puerto Rico to conduct a program on humane animal capture/handling techniques for HSI. We offer extensive support to animal welfare groups on the island, ranging from shelter internships to grants. We also help foster humane education initiatives and send speakers to local conferences.
What is your role with The HSUS/HSI?
I've been with organization for more than two decades. In that time, I've helped relocate tortoises and prairie dogs, assisted with spay/neuter clinics in remote areas, rescued skunks and raccoons who were troubling homeowners, and darted wild horses with immunocontraceptives. It's been an adventure! Read more about Pauli's experiences.
What issues did you encounter in Puerto Rico?
Cruelty to wildlife is not pursued very much. I spoke to the groups I met with about it.
Another problem is the huge need for equipment for capture/neuter/vaccination/return work. Among all of the animal control agencies, they had just a single dog-sized live trap! I donated my personal cat net to Save a Gato.
All of the groups I worked with were frugal and motivated—hungry for new ideas and better equipment and training to help them help animals.
What were some of the highlights of your trip?
It is always exciting to talk to local people and then to get out into the field to see firsthand the challenges they face. Puerto Rico suffers from the same underfunding, public misunderstanding and governmental non-prioritization that I've encountered elsewhere, but I believe that time and effort will bring long-term improvement to their animal welfare issues.
Particularly great was going into the field with 10 cruelty investigators to catch their "uncatchable" dogs.
- The first was a very pregnant female; we caught her quickly by confusing her with fence hole closures.
- The next one we caught by having just the usual feeder enter the property and perform a leash slide.... She was amazed she could catch a dog all by herself!
- I also taught them how to use a airline crate or wire cage as a manually operated live trap and one of their Animal Control Officers was so excited that he was going out after the training to go catch a third dog that he had not been able to get close to.
This team is funded by one woman and has never yet gotten a grant from anyone, and their bills for veterinary care and equipment have been very high. I gave them two snappy snares and three cable leashes.
One field training participant hugged me and said, "I will never, ever forget you!" It doesn't get any better than that!