Dart guns for Dogs

Written by Mike Allison
on November 5, 2019

Dart Guns for Dog Capture & Recovery – Dispelling the 6 BIG Myths.


In the past two years, Animal Capture UK – Jelen’s Live Animal Capture Arm – have been responsible for the safe capture of 20 dogs using RCI (Remote Chemical Injection) technology.  They are professional darting specialists using up-to-date delivery systems and operating with full veterinary support.  In all of those cases, the animal could not have been recovered without the safe use of this technology and the specialist, qualified operators, whom are trained to use it safely, humanely and effectively.

There are many dog rescue operators totally opposed to the use of such techniques, and several myths that circulate through the dog rescue world that are serving only to increase scepticism and, in some cases, may even increase the risks for dogs that remain un-captured.

The following information has been produced to inform dog owners, carers and rescuers of the real value of RCI, and the circumstances in which the use of RCI technology is appropriate. It is hoped that it will dispel the major myths that drive people to be wary of RCI as a viable dog capture and recovery method.

To many, the thought of darting a dog runs parallel with the thought of shooting it.  There is a fundamental difference between the function, the intention and effect of a rifle/shotgun intending to kill the animal, and that of a dart projector.

The dart projector(often referred to as a dart rifle)is designed and used for a completely different function – the main one being to remotely deliver a sedative injection accurately, safely, humanely.

The dart projector, the specialist telemetry darts and the digital tracking equipment used is tested thoroughly before every capture operation. With the equipment’s directional tracking and location capability able to locate an animal up to a mile away. This, combined with the experience of the operators means there is no reason why an animal needs to be lost.  

No two live capture operations are identical. Long before a dog is darted, the RCI team gather crucial information on the animal breed, weight, age, sex and behavioural characteristics. The data is discussed with our veterinary surgeon that, in every case, supports the operation.

The appropriate drug type and specific volume is used in each particular case, so in the rare occasions where location and recovery are protracted, the dog will remain stable in sedation. Most dogs are located and recovered within 20 minutes.


Any sedation carries a risk, as it does with humans and other animals, but in cases where darting needs to be considered, then by default the animal is already facing significant risks from traffic, livestock farmers, malnutrition and disease. Often the risks of the animal not being caught far outweigh the calculated risk of capture using RCI and in all cases darting is the last course of action.


Dart impact will naturally come as a surprise to the animal, but the key factor is that prior to impact the dog is naturally wary but is not experiencing fear. By the time the animal is aware that something has happened, the sedative has already been injected and is beginning to work.

For dogs that require capture by any method, their greatest fear is people. As the dart is delivered from a concealed position then fear is not an issue. Dart impact is less frightening for the animal than a malfunctioning trap. 

In most circumstances there are a range of tactics and equipment that can be used long before darting needs to be considered. However, there are certain circumstances where darting should be considered for a quick recovery.

Such circumstances may include cases where the animal is in danger from traffic, where it may be hit, injured or killed, or where the dog may cause a road traffic collision where human safety is at risk. Where a dog is close to a livestock farm, then the likelihood of the dog being shot if, for example, it is seen in a field with sheep and lambs. Other cases where darting should be considered as a primary option are where the dog is aggressive, or potentially dangerous to humans.

Animal Capture UK / Canine Capture UK are the most experienced and qualified live animal capture specialists in the British Isles. The ACUK operational team have been carrying out the capture of animals for over three decades, with CCUK having extensive experience in a range of dog capture scenarios. They are most experienced, professional and successful team specialising in difficult dog capture in the UK, having provided difficult dog capture advice and services on a local, national and international basis.



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Mike Allison

Mike Allison

Founder and CEO

Over 40 years ago, Mike Allison Set out to raise the standards of deer control, management and husbandry in the UK.

To this day, his determination to continue this process has been unwavering.

Jelen PWS (Jelen Premier Wildlife Services) has become synonymous with the very best services in the wild, park and farmed deer sectors.

Mike’s commitment to the modern UK deer industry across all its sectors is evident through his conservation-led approach to delivering humane, ethical and sustainable deer control.

His rejection of the widespread mediocrity that typically surrounds wild deer management, and his refusal to accept unethical, inhumane and indiscriminate control techniques sets a standard within the industry.

Mike is married with 3 kids and loves them almost as much as his dog and his guitar!

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