Friday, July 14, 2017

A Thick Skin and a Strong Stomach

I've heard things that would make
Chris Rock blush!
People often ask "What does it take to be an animal control officer?" I'm sure they want to know about my training and certifications. However, my response is usually "A thick skin and a strong stomach." I've been doing this since 2005. I've seen people with much better resumes quit after only a couple years. Trust me, only the school of life can prepare someone for the things I deal with. For example, here are two thick skin moments from this week:
  • A message was left on my machine at 7:29 AM on Sunday morning. The voice was definitely male, however, caller ID said the phone number belonged to someone named Heather. The message was (and I quote) "Hey you bullshit mother fuckers, you should be open, not tell me to call the goddamn cops for animal control you fucking assholes." Nothing else was said. I called back at 9:35 AM stating that I received a call from an unnamed man at this number. I repeated the message verbatim and said “If Mr. Potty Mouth has an issue he wants assistance with please have him call back. However, if just wants to swear at me then please don't bother." Surprise! I never got a call back.

  • I was on routine beach patrol. I saw a man with two dogs -- one in the water, one on shore. I went over to ask him to keep both dogs in the water if playing off leash (per ordinance). Seriously, I had only wanted to give him a friendly reminder. However, he got an attitude right away. He told me I wrote him a ticket seven years ago and he was still pissed about it. (I honestly didn't remember him and I think that upset him even more.) He told me not to talk to him unless I'm going to write him a ticket, and I'd better call the cops too. So . . . I called for backup and wrote him a ticket. THEN he had the audacity to be angry because I did what he wanted. WTH?
I've seen too many dogs like this
A strong stomach is also helpful to do this job. Some of the things I've seen keep me up at night: emaciated animals, embedded collars, parasitic infestations, hoarders, disfiguring dog bites -- and things too horrific to mention. Yes, I've seen a therapist and have taken antidepressants in the past. Currently, I swear too much and I self medicate with way too many carbs. I threaten to quit my job on a regular basis.

So why do I keep going? Certainly not for the money! I would make more as a dental tech or as an assistant manager at McDonalds. (Some statistics say a good $10,000/year more.) I'm sure I'd have less grief -- and fleas! -- if I did. But deep down I like to think that I'm making a difference; that the lives of people and animals are better because of my efforts.

I know I've been absent from the blog lately. I've spent the last few weeks working a cruelty case. It's been an emotionally grueling yet deeply satisfying experience. Animal cruelty is not a common occurrence in my tiny beach town -- and for that I am grateful. I can't go into detail about the case, but I can share my part in it. I was called in on my day off to assist the police department. The detective brought me in as the subject matter expert (how cool is that?!) and I worked this case from start to finish.
  • I was on scene taking pictures and collecting evidence.
  • I was able to advise the police officers on what was needed to ensure a strong animal cruelty case. (With thanks to the additional training I keep asking for!)
  • I collected and notarized affidavits.
  • I participated in jailhouse interviews.
  • I gathered and interpreted veterinary reports.
  • I went to the State Attorney's Office to help argue the case for an indictment.
  • I accompanied the sergeant to get a warrant for criminal animal cruelty.
Score one for good guys! The judge who signed the warrant actually shook my hand and thanked me for doing my job. So to all the jerks that like to tell me that I'm "just an F-ing dog catcher," I'd like to say:


Because apparently I'm an F-ing dog abuser catcher too. [Insert obscene hand gesture here.] And with that, I'm going to open a bottle of wine and take a hot bath. I think I earned it. -- K