Woman is Md.'s 'Geese Police'
Have a problem with pesky geese on your property?
Want to get rid of them humanely? Call Cindy Ranneberger.
Eight years ago, Ranneberger worked at a bank but wasn't happy with her job. By chance, she saw an ad looking for someone who liked dogs, could kayak and wanted to work outdoors.
“I told my husband it was perfect,” Ranneberger said.
Since 2004, she has been the franchisee for four Maryland counties for Geese Police.
The job ad led to working about two years for Cathy Benedict, who owned Geese Police franchises in Maryland and Virginia.
In 2004, Ranneberger and her husband, Brad, bought Benedict's farm at 10923 Liberty Road and are franchisees for Frederick , Carroll, Montgomery and Howard counties. They recently got a government contract for ridding sites of unwanted geese, but could only say that the location is in Montgomery County.
Geese Police uses border collies to chase geese away from ponds and grassy areas without harming them. The Rannebergers and their crew work at golf courses, parks, corporate centers, playgrounds, schools, beaches and homeowner associations.
Both went through extensive training, both on the job and at Geese Police headquarters in New Jersey.
“It is better that you don't have any training with dogs. That way you don't have any preconceived notions,” Ranneberger said. “It is a lot different with working dogs than pets.” The process is approved by the various organizations that look out for animals. Chasing the geese and not harming them is a humane way to get rid of a problem. “The dogs never touch or harm the geese, but the geese don't know that.” The business has grown. Ranneberger's mother, Sherri Swan, became the office manager, assisted by Linda Ranneberger, Brad's mother. Elliot Oren is an employee who has been trained in the Geese Police techniques. The Rannebergers have six border collies they use for Geese Police.
When a potential client calls, Ranneberger will look at the site, determine how many geese there are, what type of property it is, how to get access and provide a free demonstration.
“Within 24 hours we will have a proposal,” she said. “We can work week to week or do an annual agreement. We work seven days a week.” Brad Ranneberger, a former surveyor, said most of the birds are “resident geese.” The birds are not the type that fly south for the winter, but stay and nest and then go into a molting season when they can't fly. “The goal is to get them up and out before the nest and molting season.” Ranneberger said her dogs get frustrated when they don't work. “They get satisfaction from herding,” she said. Indian Runner Ducks are used at the farm to train the dogs and keep them in practice.
Using traditional herding dog commands, the Geese Police crew guide the dogs so they herd the geese toward the people and scare them. The dogs get in the water to herd the geese as well, Ranneberger said, “and we have to get in a kayak to help as the geese swim faster than the dogs.” Border collies have an “eye,” Ranneberger said, “a predatory stare that the birds recognize. The dogs also have a stalking position and the birds see that, and the 'eye,'” she said. “It is not just your neighbor's dog running around and barking at the geese.” Brad Ranneberger said Geese Police sometimes has to go back to the same spot later.
“Another flock of geese, seeing what looks like a great place to land and stay, will try to make themselves residents.”
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