Humane Capture and Technical Rescue
We rescue animals who cannot be easily caught by others, with a primary focus on lost family pets, homeless dogs, and homeless cats who are severely injured. Our services are available only in Maricopa County and Payson, Arizona at this time, based on volunteer availability.
Animals in survival mode are often too timid or skittish to come to people for help – that’s where we come in. These rescues require specialized training, skill, an advanced knowledge of animal behavior, and humane trapping equipment to safely capture and spare these animals from danger. Most of these animals are shy and tend to run away from people – they cannot be easily leashed or picked up because they don’t understand that people are trying to help them.
HARTT has dozens of humane traps, suitable for animals of all shapes and sizes. We always choose the humane trap that will most likely result in the quickest, safest and most comfortable capture of the animal. None of these trapping solutions are harmful. The longer an animal remains loose, the greater the dangers to them from automobiles, predators, abuse, starvation and disease. Humane trapping speeds up the rescue process so they can get into a safe environment as soon as possible.
We also assist in the capture of homeless cats who are severely injured who, because of their injuries, may be less willing or even unable to enter a traditional cat trap. We do not trap healthy feral cats, as there are other organizations in the Valley who specialize in “community cat” TNR (trap-neuter-return).
Specialty Capture Equipment
A humane trap doesn’t hurt the animal in any way; the most often used is a “box trap.” This trap looks like an extra-long wire dog crate (the kind that dogs often sleep in at home), but when the dog walks in and steps on a pressure plate, the door closes behind him. We use yummy food (our favorites are cheeseburger patties and gas station sausages hot off the grill!) as a lure. Although animals are usually startled at first when the door closes, most then turn around, continue eating the irresistible food, and then lie down and await transport. We have box traps that will accommodate tiny, 5 pound dogs and cats, up to dogs weighing 90-100 pounds.
This trap is built off of a Great Dane dog kennel frame – it’s suitable for very tall dogs, who can’t or won’t enter a normal box trap. When the dog enters and bends down to take food from the very back of the trap, an invisible light beam is interrupted and a magnet releases, causing the door to close behind the dog. While this trap is much taller and wider than a traditional trap, it is not as long; it is therefore best suited to dogs who are not very long (nose to tail).
This trap was designed by a wonderful trapping organization, The Retrievers in Minnesota and was named after a dog, “Missy”, for whom they built the trap. Missy was recovered successfully; thanks to their innovation, we are now able to benefit from this same trap design.
This large “corral-type” trap can be configured differently but is typically set up as a 13’L x 5’W’ x 5’H pen. Similar to the Jumbo Trap (also designed by The Retrievers), the dog enters the trap and when the invisible light beam is interrupted at the back, a magnet releases causing the door to close. This trap has a side-swinging door, which is perfect for dogs who don’t like to walk “under” a low gate. It also feels quite open and airy, which can be less intimidating to some dogs. This trap is also ideal for trapping multiple animals at once (in that case we use a remote trigger instead of a light sensor), or extra-large dogs. Rescuers must be waiting on the scene (but hidden) and able to respond in under 2 minutes. This trap takes time and effort to set up and is best utilized on private property or in a secure area where it can be left in place for days or weeks, if necessary.
Traditionally utilized by feral cat trappers, HARTT’s Drop Trap has been made larger to successfully capture both trap-shy cats, and small dogs up to about 25 pounds. This trapping solution requires the animal and the trapper to be on scene at the same time, which may not be possible for exceptionally skittish animals. This net-covered upside down wooden “box” is propped up on one end using a prop stick with a string attached. Bait is placed under the trap, and when the dog goes underneath to eat, the trapper (who waits and hides from up to 50’ away) pulls the string, causing the stick to collapse and the trap to fall. The dog is then transferred to a crate by raising the vertical sliding door on one side. This trap can also be used to trap multiple animals at once. A drop trap requires good lighting and the dog must be comfortable with a person waiting 40 feet behind them in order to pull the string.
HARTT’s drop net is a highly specialized piece of equipment that is most commonly used in wildlife conservation. When a dog won’t enter any other type of trap, and if there is a very large flat area of land available within the dog’s normal path, this solution can do the trick. The system includes four tall poles from which a 25’ x 25’ piece of sturdy netting hangs; the net is held to the pole by high powered magnets. When the dog walks under the net to eat from a bowl of food directly in the center, a remote control button is pressed, causing the net to lightly fall on top of the dog like a sheet, safely securing him. This trap is ideal for dogs who won’t “enter” any type of trap or structure. It’s also ideal for very large dogs, although it can work on smaller dogs as well. Rescuers must have a line of site to be able to know when to press the remote, and they must also be on scene to go to the animal immediately after the net falls (in under 60 seconds), to further secure the dog and transfer him to a safe crate for transport.
Some dogs just won’t go for any of the trapping solutions previously mentioned above. But when a dog’s life is at stake, we don’t give up! The Collarum trap is a spring-loaded piece of equipment that is hidden in the ground with only a small protrusion (the trigger) sticking out of the dirt. A piece of meat is secured to this trigger with zip ties. When the dog pulls on the meat, a metal leash is tossed around the dog’s neck. The leash holds the dog securely in place, and it cannot tighten excessively. Rescuers must be on scene for this trap and be able to get to the dog’s side in under 2 minutes, to transfer the dog safely from the metal leash to an awaiting crate for transport.