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A Pet’s Best Friend 8vHISVOICEvMARCH/APRIL 2018 Having a pet can be an experience like no other. The friendship between a pet and owner can create a bond that can last a lifetime. It has been proven that pets provide therapy as well as happiness, but they also bring unconditional love, support, and companionship. Sometimes however, pets lose their way and get lost. When this happens, more often than not, a part of us becomes lost with them. Fortunately, there is a man who searches for missing pets and works hard to return them to their homes. David Messner, a man committed to helping folks reunite with their lost pets is also a man compelled to help animals in general. He does this by search and rescue, training, and adoption. In David’s house alone, all of the pets that live there are rescued animals. All have been trained, or are being trained, to not only live safe and be what he refers to as “homeable”, but also to live helpful lives. Training animals is something David has been doing since he was a youth. His mother was a veterinarian in Yankton and also a big influence on his pursuit to work with animals. David worked with ferrets in the beginning and quickly came to understand that by interpreting the natural habits of ferrets, cues can be created to help train them. “Back in the late 80’s early 90’s, ferrets were a popular animal to have and they were very close to being feral. Unlike a cat that bites, you do not have to reach into a cage to be close to it (cat), as you would have to do with a ferret,” David says. “At one point we had between 12 to 14 ferrets living in my mom’s basement. Every one of them got a home, I retrained and domesticated them. I was 12 or 13 years old at the time and that is where I started learning patterns and observing.” David’s observational abilities began early and were developed even further by doing service in the United States Army. “In the Army I learned heavy observation. As a Forward Area Scout, my job was to watch and observe, make predictions about what was going on. That just enforced what I already started doing when I was young.” It became very apparent to David that with the skills he acquired at a young age, coupled with the training and honing of those certain skills in the service, he had a natural ability to work with animals. David explains that animals cannot understand the nuances of human language; therefore the word “No” doesn’t mean much to a dog. “If you watch two dogs interact, the way dog “A” will correct dog “B” is done by two primary methods. One, it will nip at the neck. Two, the noise that the dog will make to the other is not a normal barking noise, but a quick sharp noise similar to a “yip”. For this reason, David uses Clicker Training when working with canines. The Clicker gives the sharp tone needed to communicate immediately with an animal and makes training more successful. David’s love for animals goes beyond training them. When a pet becomes lost he is the first to volunteer to help search for a dog, cat, or whatever critter it may be, that needs help finding its way home. David uses a variety of techniques to aid in the search and rescue of missing pets. He uses community networking and the social media site Facebook. David has also created a Facebook page called Find My Pet@www.facebook.com/ findmypetyanktonsd to post pictures of a missing pet, upload videos and maps of places where the pet was last seen, and present up-to-date posts of information about the search.

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