“This is a hands-on course with heart and muscle. And breath. Dr. Mark Johnson delivers everything he promises and even more in the way of inspiration. I attended as a non-professional with a biology background and appreciated every lecture/discussion and lab. Mark leads with creativity and enthusiasm but also knows when to let attendees experience the uncertainties inherent in learning curves. He’s great with all animals, four-legged and two.” - Kris Ellingsen, January 2012.See more testimonials from GWR students »
Catching a Mexican Wolf Using Y Poles
GWR is encouraging all captive wolf programs, including zoos, wolf rescue, and captive breeding facilities for Mexican and Red Wolf recovery, to include Y poles with their capture and handling equipment and protocols to increase human and animal safety, increase handling success, and reduce animal stress. Dr. Mark has taught the California Wolf Center, Wolf Haven International, Dakota Zoo, and the Minnesota Zoo how to use the Y pole to handle wolves and now they are essential tools for these programs. Although the Y pole does not work for every wolf, most wolves and most programs will benefit.
In this video, the Dakota Zoo needs to handle Tostidos, a Mexican wolf. Dr. Mark leads the zoo staff, with the support of Director Terry Lincoln, to handle Tostidos using Y poles instead of netting. Although netting may is necessary for catching some captive wolves, it is safer for both animals and people if staff first offer the Y pole to invite the wolf to be handled in a calmer way. Over the years, more wolves learn and allow handling with the Y pole.
In the first half of the video, staff are moving toward the wolf to enclose it without scaring the animal from it’s resting place. In the second half, staff are processing the animal.
Part 1. Handling a Shelter Dog with the Y Pole
River is cute, but would suddenly bite his owners if they moved to fast. They could not keep him and gave him up for adoption to the shelter. We are using River to teach others how to use a Y pole, but the first choice for any shelter is to give the dog time if necessary and simply earn his friendship before handling him. This video teaches how to humanely handle fearful dogs when you do not have the time (i.e. disaster response) or when the dog will not be safe handling with bare hands – using Y poles and a towel.
The Y pole is an essential tool for all animal shelters. If shelters adopt this tool to replace the catch pole, it will create a culture with less force and more compassion among shelter workers. The Y pole is not a physical stick to pin a dog. It is a metal extension of your hand to offer compassion and to ask the dog to soften enough to handle it. Fearful dogs are usually more tame or tolerant after being handled with the Y pole.
Part 2. Handling a Shelter Dog with the Y Pole
If we are using Y poles and a towel on a standing dog, we will not have enough control over the dog to conduct our physical exam or to do whatever procedure we need to do with the dog. We could simply grab his legs and yank River’s legs out from under him but that is not the kind or respectful manner we choose and it is inconsistent with the humane approach of the Y pole. So watch this specific technique for picking up a front and back leg so the dog tires and relaxes to the ground. None of these actions are punitive and it can be done in a good way. You can learn more about the Y pole on our website Y Pole Page
Raven Crated with a Y Pole
Raven has become overly aggressive toward people and dogs near his property and has been given to the shelter. The Y pole is used as a humane approach to working with Raven while keeping shelter staff safe. Dogs handled properly with the Y pole will often become less fearful and more tolerant or trusting. We want all animal shelters in North America to know about the Y pole and hopefully replace virtually all uses of the catch pole within the shelter with the Y pole.
These videos are produced to demonstrate how the Y pole can be used with a syringe pole to chemically immobilize an aggressive dog (no needle was used in the video) and how the Y pole can be used to guide a dog into a kennel for transport. You can learn more about the Y pole on our website Y Pole Page for Global Wildlife Resources or read an article on the Y pole at our Training Library.