CENTENARY — Gallia Academy FFA members recently learned how to handle small animals from a special guest.
Dr. Brian Hendrickson from Riverbend Animal Clinic came to the school and brought a friend with him, his cat Teddy. As part of the agricultural education at GAHS students are taught how to manage and handle animals in order to care for them.
“The reason you’re going to want to restrain small animals, is to medicate the animal, to inspect a wound or something, or if you’re in a veterinary office the most common thing is keeping it from jumping on everybody,” said Dr. Hendrickson.
Hendrickson used Teddy the cat to demonstrate how to properly restrain a cat for treatment. Because of their loose skin, the best way to secure a cat is to take a firm hold of the scruff with the forearm down the spin and the elbow holding the cat against the body. This maintains a secure hold on the animal and prevents the caregiver from being wounded.
“With cats we generally use the scruffing technique for most restraints. The biggest mistake I see everybody make is they get a hold of them (with your arm over the head), Teddy could easily claw me with his front paws or he could turn around and eat up my arm. You always want to use it with your arm down the back,” said Hendrickson. “You can get a hold of their scruff and get a nice decent amount of skin. Most cats you don’t have to have a death grip, but if you have a wild cat that doesn’t want to be held down you have to have a really good hold. You have to gauge how much pressure to use depending on the cat.”
Hendrickson explained the reasoning for some of the handling techniques and how they result from the defense mechanisms of each animal. Controlling a dog, particularly a larger dog it often takes two people to safely restrain.
“If Teddy attacks you he’s not going to kill you, he isn’t going to rip chunks of flesh, its just going to hurt like crazy. If you have a pit bull with teeth three times as big and can tear out a quarter pound of meat each time that’s a different story,” said Hendrickson. “Cats mostly inflict pain. You’re more worried about bacterial infections and the pain and the bleeding from a cat.”
The other common animal that students got to work with was dogs. Teacher Katherine Dickson brought in her puppy Theo for Hendrickson to present on. He explained that puppies and small dogs can be scruffed like cats. Once they get to be larger, the method changes to a full body hugging and securing the head.
“The biggest thing to worry about is the mouth. They can scratch you with their claws, but the teeth is really the concern,” said Hendrickson. “With larger dogs you are better off to get them up on a surface like a table or a washing machine, especially something slick so they cant get traction.”
“Cats and dogs are normally homebodies, they don’t like to travel too much. When you take them somewhere they are already irritated, ticked off, don’t want handled, the whole nine yards,” said Hendrickson.
Students also got the chance to learn how to restrain chickens. As part of the FFA curriculum students learn how to handle farm animals along with domesticated pets. Hendrickson taught the students to safely and properly flip the chickens over so they could be examined and treated. According to Hendrickson, flipping the bird over enables a veterinarian to inspect the wings and feathers for damage and other aspects of the chicken’s health.
Reach Morgan McKinniss at 740-446-2342 ext 2108.