For those thinking of a career as an Animal Control Officer, here's a pretty typical weekend:
0730hrs July 5th
I've just changed into my uniform and got a call about a fawn on the side of the road, not moving. I drive out there to find a young fawn, obviously hit by a car -- her spine is twisted in an unnatural shape and she's in shock with her eyes glazed over. Thankfully, a wonderful cop has followed me out to the scene and he quickly dispatches the fawn because I am unsure if I can actually kill a deer. We bag her up for disposal and discover that both her back legs are shattered as is one of her front legs.
I arrive back at the Pound to discover a "full house" and numerous messages on the machine. The extremely aggressive quarantined dog, affectionately known as Cujo, is losing his mind at all the other dogs. The cats are terrified from all the extra noise. It takes me about three hours to walk, feed, and clean everyone. During this time, I answer numerous phone calls, all some variation of this:
caller: I can't find my dog. She freaked out during the fireworks.
me: Is the dog wearing a collar with ID? Is the dog microchipped?
caller: No. She's never run away before. She does have an electric fence collar, but she's not wearing her tags.
me: *sigh* Please give me a description of your dog and I will keep my eyes open for her.....
I receive a call about a dead cat found in a yard, and the family is having a children's party and wants the body removed. (Normally, we don't do this -- the Highway Department does, but I decide to take care of the cat because of the kids.) Cat is obviously well-cared-for, yet has no collar or microchip. I take the cat back to the shelter, bag it up to place it in the freezer and add it to the list of unclaimed pets.
On my way back to the Pound with lunch, I see two people run across a busy road, chasing their small puppy. I pull over and join the chase. We corner the puppy in a neighbor's yard, and the puppy has a serious case of zoomies. "Maggie" is a small lab/weim mix, about 6 months old. She bolted out of her owners' yard and immediately ran for the road, then miraculously crossed it without being hit. Her owners and the neighbors and I watch her tear around the yard for about 20 minutes before she starts to tire out. Other neighbors offer us some hot dogs which we break into bits and lure Maggie closer. I finally manage to grab her collar and tackle her. Her owners leash her up and we all start laughing with relief. Her owners call me a "hero" which I'm not but makes me feel great. I'm just happy the pup wasn't killed.
Rest of day is spent reuniting dogs with owners, and explaining the importance of proper identification. All the dogs that came in over the holiday had no ID on their collars and not one was microchipped.
0730hrs July 6
I am on my way to the shelter and I receive a call about a sick raccoon, circling around and falling over right under the Target store sign on the busiest road in town. (Fantastic -- we get to dispatch the poor animal in front of the whole town. Bet we get some complaints about this.) I arrive on scene to see the raccoon thrashing about and in distress. I snare the animal and hold it down while the officer dispatches the animal with one shot to the heart. Unfortunately, because the animal has some sort of neurological disease, he twitches and thrashes for several minutes before his nerves stop firing. Luckily, most of this action is blocked by the police car and the ACO van. I bag him up, clean up the scene, and take him back to the Pound for disposal.
I arrive back at the Pound and walk, feed, and clean everyone. There are more messages on the machine, some saying they've found their dogs, others saying that their dogs are still missing. I return all the calls and reunite a couple more dogs and owners. I'm tired of hearing myself explain the importance of proper identification. I do manage to take some quick pictures of the cats so I can make up fliers this coming week.
Dispatch calls to tell me that someone needs help removing an opossum from a Have-a-Hart trap. I arrive on scene to find an older possum in a trap. His bottom jaw is stuck in the wires of the trap and he's PISSED. The part of his jaw on the outside of the trap is swollen as is the part of his jaw on the inside of the trap -- this makes it impossible for him to remove his jaw. The homeowner lets me borrow some tin snips and pliers and holds the trap steady while I carefully cut the wires around his jaw and bend them out of the way. I successfully remove the wires and let the possum regain feeling in his jaw. It takes about 20 minutes before he is able to open and close his jaws and move his tongue again. This is probably due to muscle cramping after being stuck in that position for hours. Thankfully, the possum does seem to recover and I release him back into the woods. He waddles off at top speed and disappears. If he hadn't recovered, I would have had to euthanize him.
Heading back to PD to do reports from yesterday and today. I grab a quick sandwich and spend lunch trying to figure out the new computer system without screwing up anything.
I receive a call from another ACO about a gorgeous shep mix that needs to be adopted out ASAP because she's crazy from being cooped-up in the Pound. I go out and take some quick pics and get her story from the volunteers. Their ACO is out on a call, rescuing a baby skunk downtown.
Rest of day is spent on patrol, looking for missing dogs and returning calls from anxious owners.
Never make someone a priority in your life when that someone treats you like an option.