Good-Bye, Geese! Shelter Dog Solves Plant's Waterfowl Problems

A spoiled pup named Duck Dynasty finds his purpose at a Richmond water treatment plant.
Good-Bye, Geese! Shelter Dog Solves Plant's Waterfowl Problems
At the Richmond (Virginia) Water Treatment Plant, rescue dog Duck Dynasty helps patrol the facility's grounds with security officer Regina Burton.

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At first, the staff at the Richmond (Virginia) Water Treatment Plant was only interested in finding an office pet. But bringing Duck Dynasty, a 4-year-old hound mix, on board has had an additional benefit: The pup has solved the plant’s chronic geese problem.

“Anytime you have water, (the geese are) everywhere, and they leave behind their droppings,” says Ricky Hatfield, plant superintendent. “Then you also have all these geese hanging out in your reservoir. That’s before we treat the water, of course, but we just don’t want all these geese around. They’re a nuisance and take staff time to deal with."

Enter Duck Dynasty — or DD, D2, Ducky, or other variations — who’s been living at the Richmond plant since the city’s animal control department took him off the streets. The plant's new four-legged staff member is part of a unique, interdepartmental program started by Hatfield, Rosemary Green, deputy director of public utilities, Arnie Eberly, water plant program manager, and Christie Peters, director of animal care and control.

If not in his outdoor kennel or hanging out in the office, Ducky is out making rounds with plant employees on the 37-acre facility. And the geese seem to have taken notice of the plant’s newest employee.

“We don’t have any geese at the moment,” Hatfield says. “I think it’s partially because of Ducky and partially some other reason I can’t explain. There have been times in the past where we’ve had 20 or 30 pairs of nesting geese at a time. You have all those pairs and then they have their babies. Not having all of them around makes a big difference.”

Hatfield estimates the plant will save about $1,500 annually in staff time and material by using Ducky as its primary goose deterrent. Previously, plant employees applied goose repellant to grass around the facility.

“It would keep them away for a day or so. Then of course it would rain and wash the repellant away, and the geese would be right back,” Hatfield says.

Not only is Ducky more effective, but he’s a cheaper, more permanent solution.

“This isn’t costing our department any money at all,” Hatfield says. “Animal control is taking care of the dog just as they would if it were living in their kennel. They’re taking care of the food and the vet bills. There’s no cost to us other than the time people take to walk the dog, which I wouldn’t even call a cost. If someone’s walking around to do a check on the plant anyway, they’ll just take the dog with them.”

Eventually, the day may come when Duck Dynasty finds a permanent home with a family. Should that happen, Hatfield has no doubt a new shelter dog will quickly fill Ducky’s role. Yes, Ducky has helped with the facility’s geese issues, but he’s also become the staff’s office pet.

“The dog is just spoiled rotten,” Hatfield says. “Staff members buy him toys and they buy him treats. You can never get everybody 100 percent on board with something, but we have 65 people at the plant and I would say about 90 percent have jumped right into it with walking him and spending time with him. It’s been a pretty good experience so far.”

It’s gone so well, the plant recently brought in a second shelter dog, Valerie, to keep Ducky company.

“That was our goal all along, to have two dogs at a time,” Hatfield says. “It’s been a great thing as far as I’m concerned.”

To read more about Duck Dynasty and how he's getting along at the plant, check out the city's blog.


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