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eagle release

May 2, 2012

“I woke up suddenly at 0330, excited, and beating my alarm by a full half-hour. It was one of those mornings when I knew instantly something great was going to happen in the day, and after a brief second of fog, I remembered what and broke into a smile.  It’s April 4th, 2012 and not just any day.  It’s eagle release day.

“At K’S PATH, we love animals.  As the manager of our wildlife programs, I have the good fortune (and sometimes bad luck) to work with our most complex and difficult animal visitors and residents.  Over the last few years we’ve received and/or worked with Baboons, Desert Tortoises, a Eurasian Brown Bear, endangered Striped Hyenas, endangered Arabian Gazelles, Hedgehogs, Kangaroo Mice, and probably a few others I just can’t think of at the moment.  While we’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with each one of these incredible creatures, our avian program by far has the greatest number of patients each year.  This is because by the numbers, there are more birds living in and migrating through Kuwait each year than there are humans living here (of course we work with pet birds as well, but that is for our companion animal department).  So far, and I’m working from memory here, we have worked with Steppe Eagles, Kestrels, Scops Owls, Buzzards, endangered Egyptian Vultures, Greater and Lesser Flamingos, a small range of sea birds, and a variety of falcons of, lets say ‘dubious’ origin (wild vs. smuggled or captive bred).

“The purpose of our wild bird program is to save lives and achieve the best possible outcome for each bird.  We therefore provide medical care and husbandry services with the goal in mind of release back into the wild if possible.  Some birds can never be released due to the extent of their injuries or their exposure to sickness and subsequent risk to wild populations.  For those birds, we make every effort to provide lifetime sanctuary in appropriate enclosures.  This, however, is a story about one of the lucky birds that gets released.

“We don’t know the very beginning of this story, when a beautiful Eurasian Steppe eagle, migrating from Africa to Asia was captured.  The first part of the story that we do know is that he was seen being dragged through the Friday Market on a rope by a group of children.  We don’t know why they would do such a thing or why no one would stop them from doing so.  What we do know is that one of our volunteers found the eagle several hours later in a garbage bin.  Despite this ordeal, he was seen by the Royal Animal Hospital and deemed fortunate enough not to have received any injuries.  He was, however, suffering from stress and exhaustion, both maladies that K’S PATH is equipped to deal with.  So he entered into the care of our wildlife husbandry staff.  Thus began his road to recovery.

“Preparation for a release begins the minute a bird comes under our care.  Our staff is trained to handle birds with extreme diligence, to minimize or eliminate exposure to sick animals by instituting appropriate quarantine, our enclosures come in two designs for healthy or special needs birds, and we feed a diet similar to what they would kill in the wild.  If a bird has been physically injured, we conduct a live-prey test prior to release as the only way to ensure an individual is able to hunt.  The key to working with a wild animal is to always treat it like a wild animal and therefore do everything possible to keep them wild.

“Now back to April 4th.  It’s early, but I’m wide-awake and ready to go.  I had prepared almost everything the day before: camera batteries, lenses, tripods, lunch, GPS, rucksack, and handling gloves.  I’d spent about two hours removing the back seat of my work truck so I could fit the wildlife cage inside.  Birds, especially wild birds, are extremely sensitive to all stressors.  We don’t want to arrive in the desert with a bird either in an extreme state of agitation or on the verge of capture myopathy (a condition wherein an animal shuts down essentially due to overwhelming stress).  To avoid this, the cage will be insulated top and bottom with canvas and transported inside of a vehicle.  We also had to arrange a location for the release somewhere that the eagle would not be hunted or have trouble during his final recovery phase.  For this, we turned to frequent ally for wildlife operations, Kuwait Oil Company (KOC).  Their West Kuwait office was able to pinpoint a suitable location far from any civilization and make arrangements for me to access the area.  In short, everything was ready for the release; I only needed to collect the eagle.

“A member of our dedicated wildlife staff was ready and waiting at 0530 when I arrived at our shelter and sanctuary facility in Wafra.  The next step was to catch the bird, in this case a Eurasian Steppe eagle.   Some birds become exceptionally agitated when you enter their enclosure.  Luckily this was not the case.  He simply hunched over and waited to see what would happen next.  I therefore climbed up the side of the enclosure with gloves and a towel, carefully covered him, and handed him down to K’S PATH Veterinary Nurse Ramswarup “Ram” Barwasia.  We gently loaded him into his cage, then the truck, ready for transport without incident.  Then I began one of the slowest and quietist drives I’ve ever made.  Traveling quietly in a big truck over what seemed like hundreds of speed bumps was no easy feat.  It meant driving very slowly and taking two hours to drive what is usually a 45-minute drive.  The natural instinct of a compassionate person is to talk to a stressed animal to try to calm them down.  A wild animal derives no comfort from this.  It would be the equivalent of a dragon using growls, grunts, and smoke to calm you down; another animal you’re terrified of cannot calm you until you’re trained to trust.  The last thing we wanted was the trust of this eagle—he needed to be fully wild to live in the wild.

“After two hours of silence where I contemplated the possibilities of this release, we at last reached the area KOC refers to as West Kuwait.  From the sounds the eagle was making, I could tell he was equally anxious to be free of the cage.  We met up with two KOC representatives from West Kuwait to identify the best place for the release to occur.  Having worked in the area for 20 years, they were more than equipped to find an area well clear of any development where the eagle could be released in safety.

“Finally the time had arrived.  From experience, we knew what to expect: a rapid cage exit, a short flight, a soft landing, and a lot of uncertainty.  Out came the cameras followed by the cage.  It was a windy day, and the tarp covering the cage started to blow off, wind filled the eagles’ wings, and it was all I could do to open the cage before he started injuring himself on the door.  In a flash he had cleared the cage and taken flight.  It was a moment of absolute joy and complete majesty.  There are few things in the world that compare to seeing a bird that had endured such hardship take flight again.

“Next came the uncertainty.  It would be nice if a released bird simply flew off into the distance.  In my experience, that rarely happens.  A bird that has lived in a cage, even a pretty large cage as is the case at K’S PATH, takes some time to adjust to being free again.  In the video of the release, you’ll see the eagle take flight and disappear.  He then proceeded to land just out of sight of the cameras.  I was expecting this and I grabbed a daypack with water, snacks, gps, and binoculars contenting myself to spending the next few hours watching to see how he progressed.  After letting him settle himself and do some flapping and preening, I took a couple of runs toward him to see if he had a proper flee response to danger and whether he could take flight for distances of his own choosing.  He was fine on both counts.  We certainly don’t want him to be caught by another human.  After a couple of hours, I determined he had every factor on his side.  Conditions were as good as he was ever going to get for his new lease on life, so I marked his location and left him to complete his transition back to the wild.

“A visit the following morning showed no sign of the eagle.  We all wish with all our might that he is free, healthy, flying, and hunting.  That, after all, is why we do what we do.

“On a final note, where does the funding for this program come from?  The answer is that we have no funding.  My wife and I were obliged to pay for our most recent cage construction at a staggering cost of 3,000KD.  Daily husbandry we can manage to merge into our monthly shelter budget, but expensive medical care is more than our budget can tolerate and we often operate in the red because of programs like this one.  I don’t think many people would deny the importance of protecting our precious wildlife, but the difficult question remains for us:  where is the funding?”

- John Peaveler, K’S PATH Managing Director and Lead Capture Specialist

Desert Bio-diversity + Eurasian Steppe Eagle Rescue + New Humane Animal Control Contract…

April 1, 2012

“Imagine if you will that as far as you can see in one direction the desert isn’t a trash-filled, sand-colored wasteland.  Instead, it’s the deep purple of Al Hamat… yellow with the flowers of Zamluq. I had the pleasure of viewing Kestrels, Steppe Eagles… Falcons… Dhubs… It was truly wonderful.  I spent most of the week in a state of gratitude for having such an amazing job.  My message for you?  Kuwait was beautiful.  It is still beautiful in parts, but it will take everyone who truly loves Kuwait working together to preserve our wildlife for the generations that follow us.”

Spring is quickly coming to an end in Kuwait.  K’S PATH has traditionally reduced operations during the summer months both because of the extreme heat and because so many people travel to cooler climates.  This year, however, we are on schedule to be busier than ever.  Here are a few glimpses into what we’ve been doing this week and where we’re headed for the next few months:

I spent a lot of my time this week conducting assessments of protected and un-used land in and around Kuwait’s vast oil fields looking at the size and general health of the ecosystem.  This work, conducted in partnership with Kuwait Oil Company, is a part of continuing efforts to respond to concerns for the future health of Kuwait’s wildlife.  I can only tease you and say that we’re not quite ready to announce all that we (K’S PATH and KOC) have planned together for the coming years, but I can say that Kuwait is not without hope.  If you’re reading this and you live in Kuwait, then you know that urban areas and the marine environment are heavily polluted.  Desert areas open to the public are horribly and chronically over-grazed by sheep, goats, and camels.  This overgrazing combined with unrestricted driving over top-soil are the single greatest contributors to desertification.  This means that we, humans, are wholly responsible for our changing environment.

That’s the bad news, of course.  The good news is that there are vast areas of Kuwait that are not open to the public and where grazing does not occur.  Some of those areas are in current use for industry, but many places remain virtually untouched and pristine.  It’s a few of those areas that I really want to tell you about.  Unfortunately, I’m not yet able to show you in pictures.  That’s actually good news in a way; imagine a place so well protected that you can’t shoot animals or photos.  To me, as an ardent student and admirer of the desert, these areas are a veritable utopia.

Imagine if you will that as far as you can see in one direction the desert isn’t a trash-filled, sand-colored wasteland.  Instead, it’s the deep purple of Al Hamat (Boraginaceae).  A few kilometers away, the ground is nearly all yellow with the flowers of Zamluq (Compositae), which only blooms between March and April.  I had the pleasure of viewing Kestrels, Steppe Eagles, a variety of falcons, and a host of smaller birds from Wheatears to Hoopoes.  I watched birds hunt from the vast numbers of black beetles that transect sand and stone.  I was busy with dogs in the mornings so I didn’t get to see the fox make their final run to their dens, but I did see fresh tracks and dens in use.  I saw Dhubs (Uromastyx aegyptia) in their hundreds.  It was truly wonderful.  I spent most of the week in a state of gratitude for having such an amazing job.  My message for you?  Kuwait was beautiful.  It is still beautiful in parts, but it will take everyone who truly loves Kuwait working together to preserve our wildlife for the generations that follow us.

The facts as they stand now are shocking:

  1. The difference in flora from one side of a fence in a protected area and the other side in a grazed area is as much as 90%.  That’s 90% fewer plants.
  2. If we do not act quickly to preserve more areas and protect them from ourselves, more plant and animal species will become extinct in our lifetime.  Desert plants cannot all reproduce effectively in small areas and will die off.  This is happening now, and nothing but quick, and somewhat collective action can stop it.

In other news, we received a Eurasian Steppe Eagle at the shelter this week through a volunteer and the Royal Animal Hospital.  He was evidently being abused at the Friday market and was eventually found in a trashcan.  Miraculously, he seems to be doing quite well.  Pending any unforeseen complications, we will be releasing him in the remote desert of West Kuwait in partnership with Kuwait Oil Company by the end of the week.  Cases like there, where a wild animal is incapacitated either through natural causes or through the impact of man can often have very sad endings, but we absolutely love it when we can put a healthy animal back in the wild where it belongs.  I for one can’t wait to get this eagle back in the wild and share with you the footage of the release!

Finally, the biggest news of the week is that K’S PATH was officially awarded a contract from Saudi Arabian Chevron (SAC) to perform the services of animal population management in and around the Al Zour area.  This is very welcome news after a stringent qualification process.  K’S PATH is very pleased to be taking this step forward with SAC in the interest of humane and effective population management.  We have been working intensively for the last three years to implement humane animal control practices in Kuwait.  Being awarded this latest contract is clear proof that we have become the leaders in this field through our hard work and passion to put a stop to the cycle of suffering in the streets.  K’S PATH would like to thank SAC for seeking out a humane solution for their animal control responsibilities.

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Photographs from the field…

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Photo above taken by a wildlife camera set up to monitor the fox den in the hill opposite.  Unfortunately it’s a low-quality camera, so this is the best shot we got at this location.  What we did see was two stray dogs digging at the den trying to get at the fox.  Feral dogs can transmit fatal puppy diseases to fox and can easily wipe out populations.

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This is the best image this unit could capture of the fox.  We try to place the cameras out of the way so they don’t disturb the fox and cause unusual behavior or den abandonment.

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In this image you see one of two dogs sighted on two consecutive nights trying to get to a fox.

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One of our newest but cheapest wildlife cameras.  This unit shot the image above but performs poorly in low and no-light environments, which are best for capturing, desert wildlife.

This blog entry represents the views of John Peaveler in his official capacity as the Managing Director of the Kuwait Society for the Protection of Animals and Their Habitat, but it does not in any way reflect the views or opinions of any of the companies mentioned herein.

get to know: K’S PATH senior volunteer Dalal Al Rushaid

March 26, 2012

I consider not spaying and not neutering pets as a form of abuse because all the litters will end as strays! I wish the government of Kuwait would enforce such spaying/neutering. This would help to effectively control the huge numbers of stray animals that we have here.

Dalal Al Rushaid is a Senior Volunteer at K’S PATH and helps with a variety of animal welfare activities both at the K’S PATH Shelter in Wafra and K’S PATH’s other programs across Kuwait. Despite having a very busy schedule at work at the Kuwait University’s Health Sciences Center, Dalal devotes every spare moment on weekends and weekdays to support K’S PATH operations. She also guides and supervises our new volunteers in shelter work such as basic animal care and grooming. Thank you Dalal for your dedication, commitment and all that you do! Our chat with Dalal…

Since when have you been volunteering with K’S PATH?

“February 2010.”

What work do you volunteer with?

“Socializing cats and dogs, checking on and grooming animals, helping the K’S PATH vet and staff, helping with adoptions and surrenders, educating visitors as much as I can, helping with K’S PATH events, answering the K’S PATH shelter line, animal rescue, TNR in Ahmadi and Kabd.”

How many hours a week do you devote to volunteer work?

“Around 11 hours on weekends and whenever I can during weekdays.”

What do you most like working on as a K’S PATH volunteer?

“Honestly I like everything that has to do with animals but mostly I like rescuing animals. It’s a great feeling when you see the animal is out of a dangerous situation and saving one from the hands of children who abuse them.”

What do you most like about being a K’S PATH volunteer?

“I love being with animals, helping animals. I get to learn new things and so much about the animals from an experienced team. I also get to meet animal loving people and share their stories.”

You have a special bond with cats and hold an avid interest in cat care. What is your five-point advice for cats (as companion animals) care?

” 1. Spay/neuter

2. Keep them indoors!

3. Healthy food and fresh water always

4. Regular vet check-ups and vaccines plus regular grooming

5. Love them and enjoy your life with them.”

What do you hope for a better future for animals and habitats?

“I consider not spaying and not neutering pets as a form of abuse because all the litters will end as strays! I wish the government of Kuwait would enforce such spaying/neutering. This would help to effectively control the huge numbers of stray animals that we have here.”

What is your advice for those who want to volunteer with K’S PATH?

“Being a volunteer is so much fun, it’s the perfect way to spend your free time, you will learn and help at the same time. You have to be committed, helpful and patient.”

An anecdote from your experience as a volunteer with K’S PATH…

“It would have to be my first independent rescue mission. I received an emergency call from my teacher John Peaveler – K’S PATH’s Managing Director and Lead Capture Specialist – about an injured dog in one of the gas stations in Jahra Area. I had never been to this area my entire life. It took me very long time to find it – I think I reached the borders at some point! Finally I found the gas station and spoke to one of the workers who showed me the dog’s location, so far so good. At that point in time, I had just a big crate and gloves with me and I figured I would have to catch the dog by hand. The dog was lying down taking a nap. I inched closer. He seemed very friendly. He stood up and I began to pat him. All was going well until the moment I decided to catch him. I am trained to catch a dog by hand through a very safe technique called the safe-hug. So I safe-hugged him only to realize how incredibly heavy he was! I gave all my strength and effort to carry him but couldn’t lift him off the ground. I had to let him go. He ran to the other side of the gas station where people gathered to see what’s going on. I went closer to him again; he was fine but I had to wait till he was in the right position. I safe-hugged him once again with all the strength and might I could muster and managed to put him into the crate safely. There are two things I learned that day: the way to Jahra area and to never underestimate a dog’s size or weight!”

animal control, early march 2012

March 11, 2012

Some short clips from the field in early March 2012. It’s rough, it’s raw. It’s heartwarming and heartbreaking. This is what our team confronts every day as K’S PATH struggles to bring compassion to where it’s needed most.

Animal Control Early March 2012 from john peaveler on Vimeo.

Garbage is a dog’s best friend.

February 16, 2012

Waste management is an important element of development and plays an obvious role in preventing the spread of introduced species.

Pet dogs may love man, but stray dogs love garbage more than anything.  Whatever you like to call it, rubbish, garbage, trash, litter, or flugelhorn, we all see it all the time.  For many it’s an eyesore.  Perhaps for most it’s not even an after thought.  Whatever your position, the facts are indisputable.  The stray dog (and cat) problem in Kuwait has two sources: irresponsible pet owners and garbage.  The latter is fundamentally the single most significant contributing factor in the survival and propagation of our stray problem.

We found over 50 dogs at this site. There's no guess what attracted them. Image © K'S PATH 2012

Dogs, as the dominant predator in our unnatural food chain, plays the part of Africa’s cheetah in their triumph over the gazelle.  In standard comparison, the dog is a vastly inferior predator and the two can’t be examined in the same light.  But Kuwait’s hunting ground somewhat levels the playing field.  Many is the time I’ve seen a hungry dog look carefully around for signs of trouble, identify its prey, hunch its shoulders, and leap upon one of our notoriously unstable and overflowing garbage bins.  Of course some of the older and weaker bins don’t require so much effort or preparation on the part of the dog.  Many lack their rear stabilizing appendages (wheels) and are naturally unstable or, even worse for the bin, have large holes big enough for a rat, a cat, or even a dog to simply grab whatever they want.

I jest in comparing garbage bins to gazelles only to make the point that a food source is the one critical element that leaves dogs roaming our streets, running in packs, and suffering.  If you’re reading this and are disgusted, annoyed, amused, or even barely interested, then I have a couple of suggestions on ways you can help.

  1. Reduce your food waste.  If your mother didn’t say it then my mother certainly did: waste not, want not.
  2. Dispose of all waste, even food waste, in a proper receptacle.  Most dogs won’t take down a bin so please use it even if it isn’t ideal.
  3. Close the lid on your bin.

You might be wondering if I’m advocating starvation as a form of animal population control, and the answer is no.   However, waste management is an important element of development and plays an obvious role in preventing the spread of introduced species.  Controlling the waste in your residential environment will likely cause stray dogs to move out of the city.  From there, if they’re lucky, they’ll end up in one of our program areas and we can pick them up.

In case you happen to work for the government, what we really need are animal resistant bins.  They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are made by a variety of manufacturers.  Doors can be spring or gravity closed and, just as importantly, they should be sized appropriately.

Here is one example:

Weighted lids and sliding doors.

You can’t click the image for front loaders… I borrowed this image from http://jtmetal.com/jtmetaldumpsters.asp.

- John Peaveler, K’S PATH Managing Director and Lead Capture Specialist

get to know: K’S PATH volunteer Quintin de Villiers

February 15, 2012

 It is our responsibility as a society to help keep our environment clean. The change I would like to see, which I know K’S PATH is pursuing, would be to educate our society on how to treat and interact with animals.

Quintin de Villiers heads out every weekend to volunteer at K’S PATH’s beach clean-ups and to help at the shelter. In the few months since he began volunteering, his dedication has seen him lead university students at beach clean-ups and handle K’S PATH’s dogs for adoption at our recently held ‘Bark in the Park’. All this, despite his busy weekday schedule with an auditing and risk consulting company. Thank you Quintin for all that you do and welcome aboard once again! Our chat with Quintin…

Since when have you been volunteering with K’S PATH?

“I began volunteering in December 2011.”

How did you hear about K’S PATH and why did you decide to sign up as a volunteer?

“I have always heard about the organization over the years. I decided to volunteer because I have always loved animals and I wanted to actually do something to combat animal cruelty.”

How many hours a week do you devote to volunteer work?

“I average between 7 to 8 hours a week.”

What work do you volunteer with? 

“For the beach clean ups it’s pretty simple, I pick up trash and try to dislodge and remove any car tires that are submerged below the sand (quite a lot of fun!). At the K’S PATH shelter the work ranges from bathing puppies, socializing with animals, walking dogs, assisting the vet, cleaning up, building beds and generally helping in other areas.”

What do you most like working on as a K’S PATH volunteer?

“Probably socializing with dogs since I have always had a particular affection for them but all the work is usually very enjoyable.”

What do you most like about being a K’S PATH volunteer?

“Getting to help animals in need and meeting some great people along the way.”

What keeps you coming back week after week to clean up beaches? 

“Personally, I think it is our responsibility as a society to help keep our environment clean. It’s always very sad to see the consequences of what pollution does to the environment. If I can at the very least help spread some awareness, through organizations like K’S PATH, about the amount of pollution our society is causing and all of its consequences, ranging from the tragic to the not-so-tragic, I would hope that our society becomes more aware and eventually more passionate about keeping our environment clean.”

What do you hope for a better future for animals and habitats?

“An end to the mistreatment/abuse of animals. In a Utopian world, humans and animals would live together harmoniously and have mutual respect for each other. Unfortunately, this is likely to never be the case. All one has to do to witness how badly animals are treated is to watch ‘Animal Cops’, visit the Friday Market or observe the interactions of an ignorant animal owner with their animal(s). The change I would like to see, which I know K’S PATH is pursuing, would be to educate our society on how to treat and interact with animals.”

What is your advice for those who want to volunteer with K’S PATH?

“Visit the K’S PATH shelter during an orientation day and understand the type of work it does. When you see how happy the animals are, especially after hearing some of their stories about how they came to the shelter, you’ll likely be very inspired by all the amazing work K’S PATH is conducting.”

An anecdote from your experience as a volunteer with K’S PATH…

“On one particular occasion at the shelter, I had been asked if I would like to socialize with dogs that had recently arrived at the shelter in order to further familiarize them in socializing with humans. In addition, I had specifically been asked to not to enter into one kennel that contained an aggressive dog that had been abused in the past. However, I unintentionally misheard the specific request to not enter into that kennel containing the aggressive dog and subsequently entered that kennel, after having socialized with some of the other new shelter arrivals. Please note though, for all those reading, the kennel was clearly marked “Aggressive dog, approach carefully” in big red letters on the front of the kennel. As I entered the kennel with the aggressive dog, I could tell he was nervous and did initially not like my presence there; he was barking loudly, pacing, and showing other aggressive signs. Eventually, after persisting with soft calls, some dog snacks and convincing him that I was not going to mistreat him, he slowly approached me and began to bond with me. He started by sniffing me, extending his paws, jumping on his hind legs to lick me and eventually rolling on his back for me to scratch his stomach and play with him. It is magical bonding moments like those, when an animal, particularly one that has been abused in the past, begins to trust and open up to you that one can really see the change that can be done in an abused animal’s life.”

from the field: TNR and rescues

February 11, 2012

It’s a lot of technology for catching a dog, but we are pretty committed to ensuring the success of this program.

Well, it’s been another busy week at K’S PATH. While I am the Managing Director, much of my energy is currently devoted to the Humane Animal Control Program and the Wildlife Programs we are running with Kuwait Oil Company.

Our work week really began Friday night while I was having some guests over for dinner. I received a call that a dog had collapsed in someone’s back yard in Ahmadi. I dispatched an animal control specialist immediately. It turned out that one of the dogs in our experimental TNR (Trap-Neuter-Release) Program had been straying at night from his construction site to the residences nearby. Someone poisoned him. It was a very sad night indeed. Out of about 60 dogs in the program, we’ve had many go missing or be injured, but this was the first confirmed death. It reinforces our concern that intolerance of dogs here would render a dog TNR Program too dangerous.

Summer, safe and recovering at the K'S PATH Shelter

Saturday we asked K’S PATH Senior Volunteer Dalal Al-Rushaid to investigate a report of two dogs at the Fahaheel Sea Club. One was said to have a serious tail injury, so this call – of the dozens we receive each week – moved to the top of the list. Dalal has advanced training in animal capture and handling techniques and has been issued a pile of basic equipment. We knew she would give us a good assessment and do what could be done without the need to deploy heavier equipment. I thought she would only assess, but she managed to coax the injured dog, a female, into an abandoned building. Once cornered, she used a control pole to move her into a cage. None of us like to use control poles, but every once in a while it is just the perfect tool for the job. She got her into a cage and started the journey to the shelter. Summer, as the dog is now called, is recovering well from her ordeal.

L - New camera; R - With group trap in background

Meanwhile we’ve continued working in the Ahmadi area to humanely remove the remaining dogs from the township. We are beginning to enter a more maintenance-centric phase of the Program, but there are still a few dogs that have proven to be particularly difficult to catch. For these dogs we have a few options. The simplest is to use special baits in our humane live traps. Sometimes this works, but many times these more difficult dogs are just too wily to enter a regular trap at all. Late last year we had a group trap assembled locally. This trap is comprised of 10 2x2m panels that lock together to form a 6x4m cage. There are two dog-sized doors that are controlled by a wireless remote. We can then watch a dog or dogs enter the trap and push a button to catch them. It’s quite effective. However, some dogs are just too smart by far! A few dogs know what we look like and know what types of vehicles we drive, so even if we are in the distance observing the trap, they won’t come around. To get around this problem, we worked with long-time Volunteer Alex Orobey to build a wireless camera system. With this tripod-mounted system, we can sit hidden in our vehicles several hundred meters away and monitor the trap. It’s a lot of technology for catching a dog, but we are pretty committed to ensuring the success of this program.

I’ve also spent a few hours this last week following dogs and crawling on the ground waiting for the perfect chance to administer anesthesia via dart. This is a lengthy process that leaves my uniforms in a pretty dirty state, but it’s very effective if done professionally and is very humane. The dog is usually unaware of where the dart came from and simply runs off to fall asleep. At that point, we check their vital signs and airway then prepare a dark quiet cage. When they wake up, they are usually well on their way to the shelter.

Also this week we went up to the northern military camps to collect a puppy with paralyzed rear legs, trapped four puppies living in a pipe next to the 306 highway, caught a dog with an injured leg also next to the 306, and collected another dog from the Fahaheel Sea Club. It’s been a pretty busy week all in all.

Next week will bring its own challenges, but today is our day off and we are all enjoying a quiet day of rest.

- John Peaveler, K’S PATH Managing Director and Lead Capture Specialist

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