Animal Control officers in Southampton have learned a new skill to help them corral larger animals — roping.
The town’s Animal Control staff partnered with Lia Savas of Indian Head Ranch in Central Islip to learn new roping skills, with Savas instructing officers in safe and proper techniques that can be used on animals ranging from dogs to livestock to Barney the Bull, who was on the run for more than two months before being captured in September.
Ryan Murphy, the town’s code compliance and emergency management administrator, told Newsday on Oct. 8 that the department’s Animal Control Division — which consists of one part-time and three full-time Animal Control officers — can now contain larger animals faster when responding to any emergencies or complaints.
"When they presented me with the concept, my first reaction was, ‘This is a skill set that I think just about any animal control [department] could have used and maybe some people wished they had just a few months ago,’ " Murphy said, referring to Barney, who went missing July 20 within the Mastic-Moriches area before eventually being caught in Moriches.
Murphy said that situation was not what prompted the rope training. However, by learning roping tactics, animal control officers are now better prepared for situations involving large animals. While they don’t encounter them frequently, Murphy said animal control has responded to calls involving emus and llamas, which are larger than most domesticated animals.
Murphy added that the division usually uses other resources such as the Suffolk County SPCA, local animal experts, veterinarians and farmers to help contain larger animals, and will continue working with them when necessary.
"It is a time-saver in that now we have some people with additional skill sets that may at least be able to contain or isolate the animal while we wait for additional assistance for loading and moving," Murphy said. "But if we can at least have control over and contain the animal to a particular spot, then it makes the job much easier."