VALPARAISO | Like a device out of Batman's utility belt, new NetGuns are one more weapon in the arsenal of the Porter County Animal Control to capture dogs on the run.
The three-man division of the Porter County Sheriff's Department tried out the new equipment for the first time Tuesday at the Porter County Expo Center.
The devices, which look like a large flashlight, can shoot a net about 30 to 45 feet over stray dogs who would resist other attempts to be collared by animal control officers.
The nets are propelled by pressurized carbon dioxide.
Animal Control Officer Patrick Cassin said the nets would be used when other methods — such as a snare or trap — fails.
The goal, Cassin said, is to get stray or vicious dogs to the shelter where they are safe. Dogs often fear the officers, and run into traffic trying to get away.
For dogs that keep their distance from officers, the net provides a means for capturing them before they get hurt, or hurt someone else.
Officers Greg Nemeth and Doug Crandall said the most difficult aspect of using the new device is repacking the nets.
Crandall said dogs that have been abused are often afraid of officers. They often won't let anyone get within 10 to 15 of them. The allows officers a chance to get those dogs into an environment where they can be rehabilitated.
"It's the best solution I can think of," he said.
Officers said they looked a data from previous calls and determined there was a need for this type of device.
The Sheriff's Department purchased three NetGuns — one for each officer — at a cost of $650 per device.