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Austin/Travis County Animal Protection at Work. Safety in the Field. Austin/Travis County Animal Protection, Care, & Control Program. Key Items. Risk awareness Situational and environmental assessment and management Necessary tools Techniques to stay safe. Risk Awareness.

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safety in the field

Safety in the Field

Austin/Travis County Animal Protection,

Care, & Control Program

key items
Key Items
  • Risk awareness
  • Situational and environmental assessment and management
  • Necessary tools
  • Techniques to stay safe
risk awareness
Risk Awareness

Whether you are interacting with people or pets, risk awareness is a must!

Try to avoid confrontations by:

  • Approaching pet owners in a friendly, firm manner
  • Check for signs of animals
  • Maintain a safe distance
risk assessment pet owners
Risk Assessment – Pet Owners
  • Use a friendly, firm voice; don’t be threatening or abusive
    • Remember to introduce yourself and your agency
    • Speak in slow, soft, low tones
    • An angry voice may provoke a person and/or their pet
  • Ask the pet owner to properly restrain their dog
risk assessment pet owners1
Risk Assessment – Pet Owners
  • At the door:
    • Stay alert…an animal may suddenly appear from another area
    • Keep one foot on the outside of the door so you can shut it quickly
      • Don’t remove your foot from the door until all pets have been properly restrained
      • Explain that this is a routine safety practice
risk assessment pet owners3
Risk Assessment – Pet Owners
  • You control the situation
  • Whether the customer is happy or not with your decision, leave letting them feel respected
  • Interpret and enforce your laws correctly, don’t play favorites or fall for sad stories
  • If all else fails, remain calm, call for police assistance and explain your intent
    • You may need to educate the police officer as well
risk awareness animals
Risk Awareness - Animals
  • Look for signs that an animal is around, ex:
    • Warning stickers
    • Food/water bowls
    • Doghouses
    • A worn path
    • Fecal matter
    • Chewed screens
    • Scratches on the door
    • Broken fence pickets
risk assessment animals
Risk Assessment - Animals

Keep a safe distance from shrubs, parked cars, and other places where an animal may hide or sleep.

risk assessment animals1
Risk Assessment - Animals

Don’t surprise a dog…let him or her know you’re near. Whistle, talk in a soft voice, shake the fence, or just make some noise.

risk assessment animals2
Risk Assessment - Animals

Avoid confrontations…

Don’t go into yards or homes until you feel it is safe to enter. Call for back up if needed.

accidents happen
Accidents Happen

Three major causes of accidents involving animals:

  • Lack of judgment
  • Poor understanding
  • Little / no experience

Tools should be in good condition, operational, and appropriate.

Good housekeeping is essential for your safety, and for the health and well being of your co-workers and animals.

Always return equipment to it’s proper place. Address any malfunctioning equipment immediately.

types of tools
Types of Tools
  • Ketch Pole
  • Large and small animal net
  • Leash
  • Extendable Bite Stick (EBS)
  • Citronella spray
  • Portable radio
  • Gloves
safe capturing
Safe Capturing
  • Any animal, by virtue of it’s size, could be potentially dangerous
  • Animals tend to be aggressive when protecting:
    • Their young
    • Their food
    • Their toys
    • Their territory
safe capturing1
Safe Capturing
  • Handle animals calmly and gently; this reduces stress levels
    • Your stress level can directly affect the behavior of the animal
  • Allow plenty of time to complete task
  • Be aware of your changing environment
  • Utilize your tools
  • Ask for help
loading unloading
Loading / Unloading
  • Vehicle positioning
    • Park near capture site
    • If working in team, one ACO can move the vehicle while the other stays with the animal
      • Portable radios
  • Don’t drag an animal to the vehicle; carry if necessary
  • Never lift an animal by the snare or rope alone
loading unloading1
Loading / Unloading
  • Use separate cages for each animal (unless you are dealing with a bitch or queen and their litters)
  • Open cage door before attempting to load
  • Place the animal in the rear of the cage
    • Do not throw the animal in
    • Be cautious; the animal may bounce back in your face
    • Remove snares and/or ropes before transporting
loading unloading2
Loading / Unloading
  • Close the door quickly
    • Make sure all feet and tails are out of the way
    • The animal should only be removed at it’s final destination
  • Secure and lock the cage door
  • Animals in small traps should be transported in those traps, inside a truck cage
  • Animals can become territorial of the truck cage
proper lifting
Proper Lifting

Planning Ahead:

  • “Size up” the animal to be lifted
  • Is the animal struggling or resistant
  • Is the animal inanimate or “dead weight”
  • Is the animal aggressive
  • How stable or balanced is the animal
proper lifting1
Proper Lifting

Planning Your Route:

  • Anticipate trip hazards:
    • Doorways, gates, etc.
  • Avoid unlevel surfaces if possible:
    • Stairs, curbs, rocky terrain, etc.
  • Clear/clean your worksite of trip hazards
    • Nets, ketch pole, leashes, etc.
proper lifting2
Proper Lifting

Maintain Balanced Support:

  • Set firm footing
  • Position feet shoulder-width apart
  • Set a staggered stance
    • Place one foot slightly forward of the other
proper lifting3
Proper Lifting

Bend Your Knees:

  • Don’t bend at the waist
    • Let your legs do the work!
  • Maintain a secure grip
    • Support the load with your hands and arms prior to, and during, the lift
    • Grasp and secure the load with your hands and palm, not just your fingers
proper lifting4
Proper Lifting

The Actual Lift:

  • Keep the load close
    • The closer to the body = less strain on your back
    • Control the head
  • Push the load rather than pulling it
    • Pushing creates less strain on the back
proper lifting5
Proper Lifting

The Actual Lift, con’t:

  • Don’t reach over the animal
    • Slide it closer to you
    • Arms length lifting causes strain on the back
  • Tighten abdominal muscles, they support the back
  • Don’t twist or bend
proper unloading
Proper Unloading

Injury can occur while picking up, or putting down, objects.

  • Lower the load slowly, while bending your knees and hips
  • After releasing, straighten up using your legs
extendable bite stick ebs
Extendable Bite Stick (EBS)


  • Convenience
  • Versatility
  • Effectiveness


  • Potential to cause serious injury

***Each Austin / Travis County Animal Protection, Care, and Control Officer carries an EBS.

bark stop drop roll
Bark…Stop, Drop, & Roll

Is a series of actions that use canine communication to diffuse potentially dangerous situations with canines.

  • When approaching a dog, stop if the dog barks
  • Realize that a dog is present, either by seeing the dog or gaining information of the dog’s presence
  • Assess the dog’s intentions and make sure that the dog is comfortable and not likely to aggress
  • Drop your eyes so that you are not staring down the dog
  • Remember that your hat obscures the dog’s

vision and makes it difficult for the dog to see your eyes

  • Use peripheral vision

to monitor the

developing situation

  • Roll your shoulder, using smooth motion, so that you are standing sideways to the dog
    • This signals the dog that no aggression is needed
  • By dropping your eyes and turning to the side you display canine communication of “no fight.”
beyond bark stop drop roll
Beyond Bark…Stop, Drop & Roll
  • Sway the EBS downward in the front of the officer with left to right motion to keep canine back
beyond bark stop drop roll1
Beyond Bark…Stop, Drop & Roll
  • Offer the EBS as something for the animal to bite if the officer is being attacked
beyond bark stop drop roll2
Beyond Bark…Stop, Drop & Roll
  • If a serious or life threatening attack occurs, strike the canine on the shoulder while swaying the EBS back and forth in front of you
alternative uses for the ebs
Alternative Uses for the EBS
  • Capturing, restraining animals
  • Removing leash
  • Create temporary ketch pole
  • Separating a dog fight
  • Means of distraction
  • Containing wildlife and/or feral cats
  • Testing behavior
  • Maintaining Officer’s safety
alternative uses
Alternative Uses
  • The EBS can be used to aid an ACO in leashing a frightened dog without putting an ACO at risk of being bitten
alternative uses1
Alternative Uses
  • The EBS can be used in conjunction with a net to keep the net from dragging on the ground while an ACO approaches a dog
alternative uses2
Alternative Uses
  • The EBS can be used in conjunction with a net to form a tent over a captured dog to prevent the animal from becoming entangled while another ACO transfers the animal onto a Ketch Pole
alternative uses3
Alternative Uses
  • The EBS can be used in conjunction with a Ketch Pole to aid an ACO in unhooking a tether off an aggressive dog without putting an ACO at risk of being bitten
alternative uses4
Alternative Uses
  • The EBS can be used in conjunction with a rope leash to make a temporary Ketch Pole when a dog becomes aggressive after being put on a leash
alternative uses5
Alternative Uses
  • The EBS can be used to aid an ACO in separating two dogs that are fighting without putting an ACO at risk of being bitten
alternative uses6
Alternative Uses
  • The EBS can be given to an aggressive dog to bite on as a means of distraction so that an ACO may safely snare the dog with the Ketch Pole
alternative uses7
Alternative Uses
  • Aids an ACO in scooping an injured and/or aggressive cat and/or wildlife into a carrier
alternative uses8
Alternative Uses
  • Aids an ACO in safely transferring wildlife into, or out of, a carrier
alternative uses9
Alternative Uses
  • Aids in holding open a snake bag
alternative uses10
Alternative Uses
  • Aids an ACO in safely testing the aggressive nature of a feral cat or wildlife
alternative uses11
Alternative Uses
  • Can be used to test the reliability of a trap
alternative uses12
Alternative Uses
  • Aids an ACO in latching, or unlatching, a gate that contains an aggressive animal
alternative uses13
Alternative Uses
  • Allows an ACO to safely turn on a light in a dark room that contains an aggressive animal
alternative uses14
Alternative Uses
  • Assists an ACO in safely sifting through obstructions while searching for snakes or other wildlife
other tools that can be used
Other Tools That Can Be Used

***Many other options are available

why use the ebs
Why Use the EBS?
  • It is always available
  • It is easily accessible
  • It can be retrieved quickly
ebs injury prevention
EBS Injury Prevention
  • EBS training addresses proper use of the baton and lessens the likeliness of an ACO sustaining injury due to misuse
  • EBS batons can be adjusted to affect the baton retraction speed
  • Adjusting the retaining clip on the EBS can affect the “lock up”
  • Proper maintenance, such as keeping the baton clean of oily residue, will keep the baton in good working order

Austin/Travis County Animal Protection, Care & Control

1156 W. Cesar Chavez Street

Austin, TX 78703


April Moore, Animal Protection Supervisor

Holli Odom, Animal Protection Supervisor