Duane Haske has been interested in wildlife almost his whole life. Beginning in junior high, he started trapping and learning about wildlife. It wasn’t until the mid 80s, at the end of high school, that he started really getting serious with wildlife control. During this same time, straight out of high school, Haske married his high school sweetheart, or best friend rather. They bought their first house together in 1993 and this is when they started running their business – Pesky Paws Wildlife Control. Haske and his family ran Pesky Paws only part-time from 1993 to 2003, and then finally decided to launch it full time in 2003. Here’s why…

Haske joined the military straight out of high school in 1985. He served in the National Guard for about 16 years before he seriously injured his neck in 2001. He was lifting fully loaded weapons racks, canvas tents, and other heavy equipment, and just like that… he happened to turn his neck the wrong way. He explained that it felt like a kink or a pulled muscle or stiff neck. He told one of his Sergeants to go get the medic because he knew something was seriously wrong. The medic examined Haske and wrote him a slip saying that there was no redness or swelling and that he should seek medical attention if he feels any increasing pain in the near future.

Haske went home. He tried to carry on like normal for a few days, and told himself he was going to suck it up and go back to work. Well, that didn’t work out as hoped. His second week back at work, he bent over to tie his shoe and his entire right arm went completely numb. Haske had his neck examined once again. This time, the doctors took x-rays and completed an MRI, and the results showed that his neck had pretty much done a 180 over time.

After waiting for almost a year, Haske was scheduled for surgery in 2002. The doctors were able to straighten his neck out, but decided not to do any further corrective procedures, as it would cause him to lose too much range of motion with his neck and head. He would not be able to move his head side to side or up and down. In other words, it would be like wearing a neck brace 24/7.

So, with just the one corrective surgery, Haske was released to go back to work in 2003 with the instructions to always wear a helmet while working, to never pick up anything over 40 pounds, and several other guidelines and restrictions. The doctors recommended that if Haske wasn’t happy with these instructions, he leave the Military.

“And like I said, I only had 1 year and 20 days to retire. They wanted me to take an early retirement. Well, when they offered that to me, I was like ‘Oh no, no, no. You’re not gonna early retire me now so I have to wait until I’m 62 to collect full benefits. If I’m no good to you now, you guys are gonna medically discharge me with an honorable discharge and pay me from day one.”

Because of the disagreement, Haske had to go to a military court hearing. Fortunately, the judge ruled in Haske’s favor, providing him with 40% rating, with the ability to increase, as  the injury would most likely get worse with age. Haske was honorably discharged in 2003, after serving in the Military for a total of 18 years, 11 months, and 11 days – just 1 year and 20 days away from getting a 20-year letter to retire!

After his discharge, Haske decided that there was no better time than the present to launch his Pesky Paws business full-time. He now catches, transports, and releases various animals for a living. There are some times in which he is required to put an animal down, but that is not typical. His daughter plays a role in his business with helping to advertise his services.  Other family members help as well, so if there is anything that he can’t do physically. “There is always someone close who is willing to help,” he said proudly.

When asked what his favorite type of job is, Haske replied, “There are so many. No two jobs are the same. You’re dealing with the same species of animals, but each animal has its own attitude. So I never know if I’m gonna get a call from a little old lady freaking out because there is a bat flying around her bedroom, or somebody calling up and saying they have a skunk digging under their shed or living in their crawl space. They could call me for one thing and it could turn out be something completely different. Just about the time you think you’ve got an animal figured out it will do something out of the ordinary and your standing there like an idiot. I never know when the phone is gonna ring and what’s gonna be on the other end. That’s what makes it interesting and unique!”

Haske explained that he still suffers from some pain. He took pain narcotics for quite a while before deciding that he didn’t want to do that anymore. He now just takes regular pain relievers and does only what he can handle with minimal pain.

“Even still today, I have my good days and I have my bad days. The weather has a lot to do with it. I mean, I can tell you it’s gonna rain the day before it rains. I have a chunk of titanium and four screws in my neck, and just before the weather changes my neck will really start hurting.”

If you seem to be having a pesky paws problem and are located in the Northeast Michigan area within a 100 mile radius from Alpena, contact Duane Haske of Pesky Paws Wildlife Control at 989-358-8108. To learn more about the services that Pesky Paws offers, visit www.peskypaws.com or http://veteran.demosite.inventiocorp.com/. And don’t forget to follow (Alpena) Pesky Paws Wildlife Control on Facebook for updates!