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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Look What the Wind Blew In

I'm having one of my insomnia nights and the weather doesn't make it much better. Tonight the wind is blowing so hard it sounds like a train is rolling by the house. And once again, just like every time it's windy, we are keeping an eye on our trees. We have huge Eucalyptus trees along our driveway. We already had one come down a few storms ago. So we are wary.
Tomorrow will most likely be a very busy day. The days following storms usually are. Fences blowing down. Gates being blown open. Trees and branches breaking fences. This tends to increase the loose dog calls. Dogs who are left outside either are terrified by what has happened, or are just taking advantage of the opportunity to explore new territory. Most are the frightened ones.
We can only hope that they are wearing current licenses, tags or current microchips. If they don't have any id they will make the trip to the shelter.
Better yet, keep them inside the house or garage during stormy weather.
When I was at the shelter impounding my 3 dogs today, I was having to search for an empty kennel. So was Officer 472. He also had 3 dogs to impound. It's very frustrating to have to walk the entire kennel looking for an empty kennel to put a dog away. And when you have a dog that needs to go into protective custody or quarantine and there are no kennels? Not good.
The shelter will be open tomorrow. Hopefully the shelter will have empty kennels by the time us officers roll in with out impounds.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Preventing Dog Bites, Dog Bites and Cat Bites

Many of the loose dog calls that we get are from folks who were out walking, or walking their dogs and were "approached" by a loose dog or dogs. And several of the Human Bitten calls are due to loose dogs and someone walking, jogging, or walking their dog.
Unfortunately, there are going to be loose dogs. Even if everyone in America had steel fences, some dogs would still be able to get loose. And unfortunately, many times these loose dogs are not so nice. So, what do you do to protect yourself? How do you prevent yourself or your own dog from being attacked or getting bitten? Here are the suggestions that I offer to people when they make contact with me in the field
My number one recommendation is to carry an umbrella. Did you know that it is illegal to carry a baseball bat or a golf club unless you are going to play baseball or golf? So walking through a neighborhood with a baseball bat or golf club could get you a visit from the local police or sheriff department. BUT an umbrella is totally legal and you can carry it year round. You can use it to shade yourself from the hot summer sun, or protect you from the winter rain. and it can help protect you from an aggressive dog.
I especially recommend the type of umbrellas that have the little auto open buttons. If you are approached by a aggressive or questionable dog, you point the umbrella in the dog's direction and POP it open. Most of the time this will distract the dogs focus from you and/or your dog and sometimes it's scary enough to send them running off.
If it doesn't send him running you now have the open umbrella to help provide a barrier between you and the dog. Yes I know it's a flimsy piece of cloth and wires, but the dog doesn't know that. And it's a lot more than you would have if you didn't have the umbrella at all. Another benefit to umbrellas is they are very light weight to hold in one hand. Leaving your other hand free. If you are walking your leashed dog you can bring your dog in closer to you with your free hand.
If the dog is still bothering you, thrust the umbrella at it and yell sternly and loudly "GO HOME!" Repeat this several times until dog retreats and you can walk away to a safe distance. Don't try to run from the dog. As my friend and fellow Officer 450 says "Fours legs will ALWAYS beat Two".
What if the dog is just not leaving you alone? Poke it with the umbrella! The umbrella is not going to hurt it as much as it biting you is going to hurt. Give the dog a few good jabs. Be stern with telling him to go home. Be angry at him. Tell him he is a BAD DOG and GO HOME. Usually if your making enough noise a neighbor or the owner will hear you and can possibly provide some assistance.
Advice, when you are retreating or walking away, try to do so by walking sideways or backwards for at least a few steps. try to keep an eye on the dog as you retreat. Or get cars or garbage cans between you and the dog. Don't let down your guard until the dog is out of sight.
If your walking your dog and the worst happens before you can react and open the umbrella, use it to defend yourself and your dog.
DO NOT try to pick your dog up or grab your dog or the other dog by the collar YOU WILL GET BIT! DO try to swing your dog away by it's leash and use your umbrella to stab at the attacking dog. Also, trying to put your body between the two dogs will most likely end up in you being bitten. Do anything and everything you can to draw attention to your attack. You also may have to release your dog's leash in order to get a hose or other object to break the dogs up. Again NEVER reach in with your hands to break dogs apart!
Once it's over, if your dog is injured, take it to your vet. After getting your dog to the vet then call Animal Services. If your dog is not injured, this is when you should call Animal Services to report the loose aggressive dog. One important thing you will need to know is the address. Drive your car over to get the house address. If you do not know which house the dog actually came from give the address of where the incident happened. Chances are if they are not the dog owners they will know who the dog belongs to. Give the best description of the dog that you can. Just saying it's a Pit bull or a Big dog is not helpful. If there is no address and no dog description we will drive down the street and not see anything and move on to our next call. Your Animal Services department should be able to advise you of what to do next.
What if you were bitten? NUMBER ONE...Go to the Doctor! I know here in California, Doctors are required by law to report ALL animal bites to Animal Services. Animal bites are a high priority for Animal Services, so if you do not hear from your local Animal Services within 24-48 hours of your bite call them to make sure they received the Doctor's report and have all the correct information. You can also ask what the protocol is for Bites. Protocols can vary by agency, but all domestic animals that bite must go through a quarantine period of at least 10 days. Some incidents require longer quarantine periods, it depends on the circumstances, type of animal and incident. The most important thing is to verify is the Rabies vaccinations.
What if you were bitten by your own dog? It doesn't matter what the circumstances are, even if it was an accident or as many people say "my fault". State laws require that when an animal bites and the skin has been broken, that animal must be quarantined and rabies vaccination verified. Animal Services does not want to take your dog. and even if your dog bites and circumstances require that the dog be quarantined at the shelter. You will be able to get your dog back. Many times your dog can be quarantined at your vet or at your home. Again it depends on your agency's protocol and the circumstances. Like anything else, the more cooperative you are the faster and smoother it will be done with.
If you are bitten by a cat, your or any other, GO IMMEDIATELY TO A DOCTOR! I cannot emphasize this enough. Just a little pin prick bite can and 9 times out of 10 WILL turn into a nasty infection. Cats mouths are very infectious. Antibiotics will be a must. I believe it was 460 who had a little tiny puncture bite on her finger and she was hospitalized because she didn't go to the doctor right away. I was bitten and scratched by a feral cat and left work to go to the doctor. I ended up waiting in the ER waiting room for 4 hours and in that time I had swelling, pain and red streaks starting to go up my arm. Cat bites are bad stuff. The same protocol will be required for quarantine and rabies verification.
This is also why it is very important that your pets be vaccinated and kept up to date on Rabies vaccinations.  

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I Lost My Dog! What Do I Do?

So it happened. You come home and Fido or Fluffy isn't there. First you run all through the house calling their name, searching the backyard, then the front. No Dog.
What now? Where do you start?
First of all sit down. Take a moment to think about how long you have been gone, all day? A couple hours? Next think of places nearby that maybe you take your dog. Do you go to the park? An open field to run and play? Many times dogs will go to familiar places. Do you walk the neighborhood? Where are some of the places that your dog likes to stop?
Next find a picture of your dog. A picture you can carry with you to ask anyone out and about if they have seen this dog. You will also need a picture for lost posters and Internet postings.
Now if it's been several hours take the few minutes it takes to make up a few lost posters on your computer. Poster Should include the following:
(picture if available, if not list breed, or size and brief description )
date lost
One thing to consider is make picture and phone number visible to a passing vehicle.
Now your ready to start looking. check your dog's favorite places to go on walks. Place your posters in high traffic visible areas, intersections of streets, make sure they are facing the direction of travel. Nothing sucks more than having to turn around twice to park and get out to walk and look at a sign that is facing the opposite direction than you were driving.
Ask people. Ask your neighbors, even if you know them or not. Tell them you are putting up flyer and it will have your phone number if they see your dog.
One thing to remember, dogs can travel far and fast. Just today I had a dog reported playing frogger at one intersection and within 15 minutes was a mile and a half away in another intersection. Then he disappeared into the residential. A Couple of years ago, I picked up a little dog that had traveled 5 miles in one day, and had managed to cross 2 major roadways.
You have searched all the familiar places, posted lost signs and still no sign of your dog. What now?
There are many Internet sites that you can post your Lost pet. Keep in mind that not every one has Internet so you will have to go old school with your search too.
Craigslist lost and found is a good place to start. Craigslist also has a pets section so you can and many people do place lost and found ads in both places. I check craigslist several times a day. Love my smartphone! I have successfully re-united lost dogs with owners many times thanks to craigslist.
WARNING!! There are kooks and con-artists out there on the world wide web. And craigslist seems to attract a lot of them. So be careful what you put out there and be wary of who replies. And keep checking back. Some days there are lots of ads so the pages can fill up and move fast to the bottom.
Other websites to post your lost pet or look for your lost pet:
Petfinder Classified
Online lost and found classified of your local news papers
Online shelter websites, city shelters, county shelters, and SPCA. Which ever agency provides shelter and animal services to your area. Don't know? Aren't sure? Look up your county or city government website and search for Animal Services. But don't just stop at looking at that shelter's website. Here we have a county shelter that provides services for the entire unincorporated part of the county as well as 3 cities within the county, a city shelter, and the SPCA shelter who also provides shelter services for 2 more cities in the county. Confused yet? We also have neighboring counties with shelters, one shelter of which is closer to residents in the north side of our county than the county shelter.
 Get the picture? don't limit your search. People will often go places they are close to or familiar with. We have had people find pets in other counties they are traveling through and will stop and turn in animals at our shelter because they know where it is and are familiar with it.
Don't forget the old school ways too. Remember newspapers? Made out of paper? People do still read them! And most do provide free or cheap lost and found ads. Pennysaver and other small local papers.
Check with Veterinary hospitals in your area. People will sometimes bring found animals in to have them scanned for microchips. Vet Hospitals sometimes have bulletin boards or folders for lost and found fliers. some Vets will even take in found pets, injured or healthy, and hold them until Animal Control can come get them.
Speaking of Microchips! If your dog is microchipped, you need to call the microchip company and advise them that your dog is lost AND make sure that your contact information is CURRENT! You have no idea how frustrating it is to be so excited to find a microchip and either the owner didn't finish the registration as instructed when they got the chip or the information is old and the phone numbers are disconnected. Microchips don't update automatically when you move or give the dog to someone else. Remember that paperwork you got when you got the dog chipped? All the information is right there.
This is just to get you started.
Your going to also need to visit your locate shelters in person. Shelters also have lost and found binders to put fliers in and for you to look through. Some finders will send in a found dog report or bring one in but are keeping the pet at there home until an owner is located. They can also provide you with more lost pet tips.
Most important. Keep looking.
I know it seems like a lot to do, and there is a lot more to do.
But bringing your dog home is worth it.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Journey

Our shelter has recently gotten some much needed publicity recently

This just reinforces that we who work in the animal care field are still struggling. We still aren't seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

The pet population still continues to rise, the shelter population continues to grown. Shelters are full, Rescues are full, Foster homes are full. Yet more animals continue to come in.

We field officers struggle daily with trucks loaded with yet more animals to transport to the shelter, knowing when we get to the shelter we are going to be scrambling for any of the empty kennels and cages. And also knowing why that cage or kennel is empty. It's a fleeting thought as we have too much to do to let it stay on our minds for very long. But it's there. It's something that is tucked away. We lay down blankets and make sure there is water and food before moving on to the next intake.

It's a heart-tug when your out in field and picking up an animal. You don't want to have to take it to the shelter. But with no ID where else can it go? About 50% of the dogs picked up have collars on. But no tags, no id whatsoever. Why even have a collar on? What's the point? It's very frustrating. So now we know we have an owned dog. But owned by who? Where? Even the dogs who don't have collars are owned at some point. Honestly? We don't have too many feral dogs.

I picked up a beautiful female husky the other week. No collar, no id, no microchip. Gorgeous dog. She's still at the shelter, now available for adoption.

Yesterday I picked up a white female pitbull. Sweetest dog. She has been through some kind of recent trauma and I took her to the ER vet for evaluation before taking her to the shelter. She has short home cropped ears, very thin, may have had puppies at some point, skinny, flea allergy, head or neck trauma, lots of scabs and scars all over her. Yet all she wants is love. She leaned on me even though she was hurting, just wanting me to hold her, placing her battered face on my shoulder. She crawled and curled up in the vet techs lap after her exam, getting as close as she could for love and reassurance. As I drive her to the shelter, it hangs in my mind. What will her fate be?

The other day I brought in two female French Bulldogs. Most likely mother and daughter, or sisters. Very silly girls. Scared the bajesus outta the guy who called them in. They just wanted in his house to get warm! Again no collars, no microchips, no ID. Frenchies are NOT a common dog. and they are not a cheap dog. So you would think an owner would take extra steps to making sure they are id'd right? Nope. You would think that the owners would be scrambling to look for them right? Nope. They've been at the shelter 3 days now. I've been through the area where they were found several times. No lost dog flyer's, no ads on various websites that I peruse trying to reunite pets with owners. They are on the shelter website, the shelter has been open every day they have been impounded.

Now, I did get a call for a found dog with an ID. Little white male Maltese/poodle/terrier something. The finder had him tied up to a tree in his front yard. This dog had his license on. And just as I was getting ready to call the tag number in, the frantic owner pulled up. The owner is a elderly disabled man, yet he had been out searching for his little dog that got out when the front gate was left open by someone leaving a flyer on his doorknob for pizza delivery. He opened to door to let his little dog out to potty and wasn't able to get to the gate and close it before "Buddy" got out. I put his little dog in his car for him and wished him a happy holiday. He asked if that was it? Was he going to get a ticket or anything? Nope. Your dog has a license. He smiled and thanked me several times before he drove off.

I'm still assigned to our contracted city and I bring in a daily average of 0-4 live animals. The county officers bring in an average of 1- 6 dogs and 1-5 cats daily, per officer. the number of officers can vary day to day from 1 officer covering the entire county to 3 officers covering the entire county. Our trucks have 6 "dog boxes" and at least 2 cat cages. This number does not include the DOAs we pick up daily. Which I won't go into the totals there, but it's more than 2 per any officer DAILY. You do the math on all of that.

Officers are scheduled to work 8 or 10 hour shifts. Many work more than their shift. I know I do. I go in early, do my paperwork from the previous day, get my new pending calls and head out to the field. In my city I have neglect calls, barking calls, license checks, followups, loose animals, wildlife, confined strays, injured animals, aggressive dogs, neighbor disputes, and a myriad of other complaints. Then there are the calls that come in DURING my shift. And this is daily. Can I get to all of them in one day? Not usually.

The county officers have the same types of calls, but in a much larger area, and much larger population. We used to have the county divided into beats, 1,2,3,4,5,6,and 7. We would have one to two officers in beats 1 and 2, one officer (me) in 3 and 4, one officer in 5 and 6 and one officer in 6 and 7. Then when they laid-off field officers it changed to North and South. We are lucky if we get 2 officers in north and 1 officer in south. Most of the time it is ONE officer in North and ONE officer in the south. And a few times a week it is ONE officer for the ENTIRE County.

The number of calls has not changed. If anything, they have increased. There are some calls that will not get worked by a county field officer. They will be handled administratively. Our AC dispatcher does an amazing job of triaging calls, making sure calls that need to be worked immediately get done and ones that can wait get placed properly, helping people over the phone and watching over all of us officers. She does so much more that I would have to dedicate an entire blog to her. Humm, maybe she would like to do a guest blog?

And one final story for this posting. More on a personal level.

For the past 2-3 nights my kids have heard the pitiful cries of a kitten outside our house. Every time we go out to look for the source we cannot find it. Well, last night, my husband and I heard it too. We kept going out and looking, but couldn't find it. Finally my husband stood outside motionless for about 10 minutes, waiting. He finally found the source. He called me in to help get a tiny 5-6 week old kitten that had climbed up into the wheel well of the vehicle parked in our driveway. I brought it in and set it up in one of our spare carriers. It ate and drank and cried just about all night long. It has green eye boogers, so I know it's sick. I will have to take it to the shelter. I have 2 cats, one of which is very old and stresses very easily. So I cannot keep the kitten. Nor can I risk the health of either of my cats. I feel bad having to do it, but I also am realistic. I have to be. We live out in the country and know our neighbors. We know our neighbors animals. So we know this little baby was dumped out here to fend for itself. Had it stayed out much longer it would have died, hit by a car, killed by dogs (my neighbors or even mine), frozen or starved, or killed by one of the many wild animals in our area. But for now it is clean, can see again (cleaned eye boogers so it can open it's eyes completely), warm, and fed. Soon we will take the journey to the shelter.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


For the past couple of weeks I have been covering one of our contracted cities while their regular officer is anticipating the birth of her first child. It's a little different than how we do things in the county, but I'm liking it. It's a nice break from working in the shelter.

Yesterday I was at my first call to pick up a raccoon that had been hit by a car and was dragging himself around a business parking lot. After I got him loaded up I got a call for two loose dogs that were reportedly trying to break though the CP's (calling party) fence. I was about 20 minutes away.

I was headed there when I got another call that the two dogs had broken through a fence and were fighting with another dog. This was from a different address than the original CP.

I arrived at the address for the second call. I was approached by a neighbor who said she was the one who called. She lived behind the dog owner's house and she heard the fighting. He son looked over the fence and saw two strange dogs fighting with the dog that lives there.

I went to the gate and didn't hear anything. I noticed that the porch light was still on. I heard the neighbor say she already knocked and nobody answered the door. I banged on the gate to see if the dogs reacted. No sound. I pushed the gate open half expecting to have dogs charging towards me. Nothing. I entered the backyard and closed the gate behind me calling to dogs. Any dogs. I saw the hole in the fence where the dogs had come through. It led back out to the huge field that the very first CP had reported the dogs had been running loose. I walked further into the yard. I saw the dog house and looked inside. Empty.

The landscaping bark next to the back door was strewn all over the lawn. The wall in the corner of the house was smeared with blood. But no sign of the dogs. i walked further back in the yard and back of the house. That was when I saw the dog, a Australian Cattle dog. He was laying shaking on the cement step in front of the bedroom slider. Blood was pooling under his neck and leg. He was wet and covered in blood and dirt. His eyes reflected fear and confusion. I approached him talking softly. When a dog is injured it can be unpredictable. He didn't move, just shivered. The neighbor's son poked his head over and asked if the dog was ok. I told it was pretty bad. I asked him if he knew who the owners were, did he know their name or a phone number. Nope. The dog didn't have a collar on either so no tags with phone numbers.

As I was heading back to my truck to get some dry towels to wrap the dog in I called dispatch. I had them check for owner information, phone numbers. Nothing. This is where one of the important reasons for licensing your pets comes in. Had we had current licensing, I would have at least a name and phone number for the owner. Usually with current licensing there is also an alternate phone number. I may even have a dog name. But right now I had nothing. The neighbors next door and across the street weren't even home so I couldn't get any information from them either. Before I left I posted a notice to the garage door for the owner to give me a call.

I told my dispatcher what the situation was and that I needed to transport this dog right away. She would let the medical staff know I was on my way. I wrapped the dog in the dry towels and carried him to my truck.

En route to the shelter I got a call back from Dispatch. I needed to take the dog to the ER Vet Hospital, we don't have a vet today. The ER vet is close to the shelter, so it wasn't too much out of the way.

I arrived at the ER vet and got him checked in. I told them what had happened and that this dog IS owned, but I didn't have any owner information. The vet staff want s to know how to proceed. In other words who is responsible for authorizing treatment ie: who's paying the bill. I told them again that there is an owner, we just haven't been able to get a hold of them yet. They gave him pain meds and the tech started shaving the fur around his wounds to see what they would be dealing with. Even she was commenting on how chewed up he was.

I left the ER and headed back to my area. I had other calls backing up. But the dogs that had done this were still on my mind. I finished a couple of calls on my way back to that neighborhood.

I drove around the neighborhoods surrounding the field that the dogs had been seen in and had made their escape through. No sign of them. I then went back to the street where it all started, where the original call came from. I spoke with the original CP. She told me that the dogs were two very big white pitbull looking dogs. she wasn't sure really what breed, as she has a pitbull herself, but they were big and both were white. She said the only thing that kept them back really was that she has two fences and even if they got through one they wouldn't get through the other. She also said that later she heard someone in the field calling dogs. She thinks it was the owner. I told her to give a call back if the dogs are loose again or if she finds out any information about who owns them. I gave her my card.

I went back to the injured dog owner's house to revise the notice with the vet hospital phone number. I noticed that the neighbors across the street where now home. I talked to them and found out the dog owner's name and that he usually gets home in a couple hours. I explained the situation to the neighbors and the gentleman remembered the logo on the side of the dog owner's work truck. He thought that the owner may be a manager or partial owner of the company. After a quick Internet search, we had the owner on the phone. He was truly concerned about his dog and i gave him the number for the vet and address. He would call them and head over there right away. the neighbors even said that the owner really cares a lot about his dog.

I don't know how the dog is doing, I got busy with other calls. I'm pretty sure that the dog will be ok.

That is one of the difficult things about this job is we don't always know the outcome of cases like this as we often don't have time to follow up.

As for the dogs that did this. Well, I'm going to keep a look out for them. If these dogs will break through new fence boards to get at another dog. they will probably do it again. Stay tuned.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Back To Blogging!!!

It's been awhile since I have not been too exhausted to blog. I've been spending a LOT of time working in the shelter and that is just wears you out to the bone. Especially with so few staff.
I have a new blog in the works! Stay tuned!!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Thank You and Let's Keep it Up!

The last couple of weeks have been like riding a roller coaster. My position as an ACO was being eliminated along with one other ACO and four ACAs (Animal Care Attendants). I was devastated to say the least, but was fully prepared metally to accept my fate of being unemployed and no long an ACO.
But it's not happening. Not to me.
Just days before what was to be my last day, I got a reprieve. It felt like a stay of execution. I was called in and informed that the funds had been found, worked and aquired to save my position. My lay-off was being recinded. No words can describe the relief I felt. I am still an ACO.
How is this possible? Through the efforts of the SOS (Save Our Shelter) campaign and the hard work of management, staff and volunteers. I want to give my deepest thank you to those involved. Your hard work has saved the shelter from completely closing AND has restored my job. I cannot put into words how much I appreciate you all!
But what about the others? There are still five other members of our Shelter Team that are still being layed-off. These people are friends and valuable members of our shelter team. Losing them is still going to make shelter operations very difficult.
We need to keep pushing forward with the SOS campaign, keep the public aware, donate, license pets, and everything we can to keep the shelter open AND bring our team members back!
It IS possible! I am living proof that we can do it!
Let's keep it up!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fourth of July, Are Your Pets Safe?

I know it still June, but have you seen the fireworks stands already propped up in just about every parking lot and empty corner? Are you aware that Fireworks are going on sale next week? Fire works are sold before the Fourth even gets here. It's time to think about your pets.
Do they have id on them? Tags? Microchip with CURRENT contact information? Even as simple as using a permanent marker and writing your phone number on the collar.
No one thinks that it will happen to them. "Oh my dog will be fine." Tell that to the hundreds or thousands of animals that end up in the shelters the week prior to and the week after the holiday. Or how about animals who will be running in fear of the strange scary noises, smells and sights who are hit by cars? It happens EVERY year. This year can we make a difference?
Make sure your pets have ID. Does the ID have an alternate contact in case your out of town? You can go to Wal-mart and for a couple bucks get a tag to put at least a name and phone number on. It's that simple. Or simpler still for those who use the excuse, "oh I don't like hearing those tags jingle all the time". How about using a simple permanent marker and writing a phone number on the collar.
Does your pet already have a tag or a microchip? IS the information current? Make sure to always keep phone numbers current. What good is the microchip is you don't have the information in there?
Are you going to be out of town and leaving pets behind? Make sure whoever is caring for your pets has emergency numbers, vet and animal shelter, should something happen and the pet goes missing. Pet care takers tend to not think of these things. Remember too than many vet hospitals will be closed for the holiday, so be sure to include your local emergency vet. Ask your regular vet who they refer their clients to.
If your home watch your pets for behavior changes, shaking, worried looks, startling at sudden noises. These could be signs that your pet is hearing the fireworks that inevitably are set off before the holiday itself. Take this as a sign that your pet will not do well with the bombardment on the actual holiday. You still have time to talk to your vet about ways to keep your pets calm. Call them for advice.
The best and safest place for scared pets is inside where the sounds and smells aren't as loud. They can still hear them, but being inside provides a safer place. With very reactive pets, you may want to place them in a central room in the house where noise from outside is buffered the most and play a radio or TV with a talk show or calm music. I don't recommend and action movie or heavy metal music, kind of defeats the purpose of creating a calming atmosphere.
If the house is not an option, do the same thing in the garage. If you cannot keep them in the garage, check your fences and gates so that a scared dog cannot easily get out.
Now what if you have done all this and your pet still goes missing? Make fliers to put up around your area, give to local vets and to bring in to the shelters. Have a clear current photo of your pet to put on fliers or post ad on places such as Craigslist. Call or look up on line the hours of operation for ALL the shelters in your area. Some have reduced hours, some are closed on certain days of the week. Call your vet to notify them of your lost pet.
If your pet is lost, has a license, has ID, has a current microchip and is picked up by animal control. We will try our best to return your pet to you as quickly as possible.
Summer time and Fourth of July should be fun for all and that includes your pets. Make sure your pets have current ID and take precautions to safeguard fearful pets.

Sneaky Dog

So I'm rolling between calls yesterday in the North part of the county. This area is near a big county park where it changes from suburbs to country in about 10 seconds. It's a busy road I'm on and there is lots of traffic. I see just ahead of me something that didn't look right. A big ol' Boxer is standing at the edge of the Park entrance. A quick scan of the area revealed that he was definitely alone. No owner? So I quickly pulled over and got out. His attention was drawn to me and I called to him. He gave me a "hoof" sound, turned and started trotting off. Well that was rude! Cars were still zipping by at 50 in a 35 zone. I had to make sure this guy didn't try to cross. I had my warning lights going on top and the back of my truck, but no one pays attention to those. They still fly by going 50.
I managed to turn around and cut Boxer off before he headed into traffic. He didn't like that I turned around and was thwarting his efforts to turn his day really bad. I yelled at him to "GO HOME!" He apparently knew what I said and he took off like a pudgy brown rocket. I turned my beast of a truck around again and followed him. He ran down the first residential street then cut a sharp turn onto the next residential street. By the time I was able to turn I thought I had lost him on the second residential street. I slowly drove down and there he was chillin' on the front porch of a house looking quite comfortable. I got out of my truck. Maybe he has just gotten through a gate that wasn't securely latched. But as soon as I got halfway to him he bolted back the way we had just come.
Dang it dog!!
I ran back to my truck and the chase was once again on. I followed him all the way back to the park entrance again, only this time he went into the park and disappeared down into the creek area. I looked but couldn't find him. Sneaky dog! He appeared to know his way and ditched me.
Well, I would come back later and see if I could find him. I had several other calls that I needed to get to. Hopefully I wouldn't be scraping his carcass off the roadway or rushing him to the emergency vet later.
I worked my other calls and notified my dispatcher that I was going to look for that boxer. I drove by the area again, but didn't see him. So I went to the house that he had been chillin' at.
As I pulled up there was a different boxer laying in the front yard with it's owner right there. I got out and went to speak to the owner. I heard a "hoof" from the front screen door and guess who it was? Yep, Sneaky dog.
I told the owner what had happened several hours ago. The owner was stunned and said there was no way that it was his dog. His dogs have been home in the house with him all day. I asked if he was sure. The dog inside the screen looked just like the dog I had chased. No. They have been in the house and well, except for his doctor's appointment this morning, he's been home all day with them. I asked him what time he was at this appointment as I glanced at the times on my log. Owner's appointment was 8:30 this morning and he got home about 10:30. I was chasing the dog at about 10:00. No. Owner insisted that his dogs were in the house when he left and they were both in the house when he got back. You have a sneaky dog Mister.
Then the owner realized what might have happened. He has a doggie door into the garage. Maybe the garage door had been left open and the dog found a way out of the yard? Sneaky dog, who's name is Spike by the way, was glaring at me while I was talking to his owner. Boy way I ruining any future escape adventures.
So Spike, aka Sneaky dog, left the house, via doggie door, went through a accidentally left open garage door, somehow got out of his backyard, got chased around by me, went to the creek, THEN came back home and was back in his house when his owner got home. Sneaky SMART dog!
Owner was very grateful that I had come by to tell him this. He would have never know and who knows what would have happened to Spike. Spike didn't look too happy about my visit. Owner is going to check the yard and make sure Spike's escape route is no longer usable.
Sneaky dog, you have been Busted!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

End of the Line

Well Folks this might be the end of the line for me.
Due to County Budget cuts I have been issued my notification of lay off effective July 3rd. I am told that if the County Board of Supervisors passes the current proposal Badge Number 461 will no longer be.
I have been trying to be positive. It is hard with such an uncertain future.
I worry about how my family and I are going manage.
I worry about starting over in a new job, IF I can even find one in this economy.
I worry about the co-workers I leave behind, who's workload is going to be even more with not only myself but 6 others being layed off in animal control.
I worry about the animals in the shelter.
I worry about the animals in the field.
I worry about the people in the field.

I have always tried to keep this blog upbeat and show the funny quirky side of being an ACO. Right now it's very difficult.
I don't know what I am going to do at this point. As my regular readers have gathered I live Animal Control. My off button is rarely off. I eat sleep live Animal Control. It's like my hands are being cut off. I'm already feeling a little bit lost.

Please say a little prayer for us, me and my fellow layoff-ees, that the Board of Supervisors will understand that our services ARE needed and that losing us is not acceptable. It's not just for us and our families, it's for the animals that we devote our lives to saving and caring for.

Thank you,

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Stand-By Shift: How Cows and Cars Don't Mix

Having stand-by kinda sucks. But I sign up for it anyway for the little extra money. What is stand-by? Well it is the shift between Swing and Day. Instead of having a Graveyard shift or a 3rd Watch, we have Standby. From 11pm to 7am we are "on-call", We can go home, go to bed but we have to have out phones on or close by so the county dispatchers can get a hold of us. We all usually take a county dog truck home, so it's just a matter of getting up, getting dressed and rolling out.
Most of the time it's quiet. You sleep through the night. But then there are those nights, or should I say, early mornings that you get jarred out of your sound sleep by the phone ringing.
I have not been having those mostly quiet nights the last 3 times I had standby.
I got a call initially for a injured deer at around 11:30pm, half hour after standby started. So I rolled out. It was a good distance away, on the north-east side of the county. I live on the North-west side. It would take me at least 45 minutes to get there.
Well, I was about halfway there when I got another call. Cow versus Car. Cow is still alive. I confirmed that Highway patrol was still on scene, usually they aren't. They were according to the dispatcher. So the deer was going to have to wait. Livestock is larger, and in my experience, the injured deer are usually gone by the time we get there anyway. So I switched directions heading South-east now.
Wow, they weren't kidding.
The cow was still alive, laying directly behind the Mercedes Benz that hit it. It was hard to say which was worse, the cow or the car. The cow was a HUGE cow. Big beef cow. She had obviously rolled over the hood, over the cab, and over the trunk. And I'm not sure how the interior of the car got sprayed inside with manure. But I guarantee that the driver and anyone else in the car was taken to the hospital covered in the foul smelling stuff.
The cow was pretty bad. I was surprised she survived the hit. Now I had to try to get in contact with the owners or get supervisor authorization to humanely dispatch the cow. And this needed to be done fast. Fire department, CHP and the Tow truck were all on scene. One of the CHP officers was a little freaked out, she was a city girl and seeing the cow thrashing and making noises was bit much for her. I tried calling my supervisor. No Answer. I tried calling my other supervisor. No answer. I tried locating the owner on our livestock log. No such luck. Tried to call the supervisor again. No Answer. Tried other supervisor. Finally! Well he wants me to try to locate the owner. Ok did that, no luck. Well, then we need to call a vet and have them come euthanize the cow. I tried to explain that the cow needed to be put down immediately. I had a shot slug and could do it. I don't think this supervisor had confidence that I could do it.
It was about then that one of the firefighters said he might know someone who knows the cow owner. Alright, wake them up! I don't care that it's now 2AM and it's also one of the coldest nights we have had this winter. I told the supervisor we might have an owner and I would call him back if we didn't.
So the Fire Battalion Chief drove the firefighter to the relatives house. Woke him up and got the cow owners phone number. He came back and I called the owner. The cow owner and his wife showed up with a flatbed truck. The owner had a revolver and put the cow down. Then, with the help of the tow truck driver, they loaded the cow up. Meanwhile I got the owner's info from the owners wife. We walked the fence line a little to see how the cow had gotten out. We found an area that I pointed out to one of the CHP officers where the fence was down. It appears that earlier in the evening, on this remove road, someone drove off the road and through the fence into the cow pasture. They had obviously drove back out, destroying a section of the fence in the process and left the scene. This was how the cow got out and onto the road, then met the Mercedes by accident. The Officer said he hadn't even noticed that before and agreed that that was what obviously happened. The cow was loaded by now and the owner was going to take it away after fixing the fence. He had 70 plus more cows and calves out there in the dark and didn't want to loose anymore. As it was they were going to have to search for this cow's calf and take it back to their house.
After leaving there I did head back to where the deer was suppose to be. I was wide awake after all. And guess what. No deer.
On my next Standby shift I got a call at 4:30 AM. This was after I had just gotten to sleep after doing a earlier call that had been left over from Swing shift. So couple of hours of sleep, feels like I JUST fell asleep. Phone rings. Cows versus car. Cows? As in more than one? Yep. Both still alive, CHP on scene, car they hit was a Volkswagen Jetta, little car. Oh boy.
So I roll on this one. This is going to be a long ass drive. Again I am coming from home, which is only a few miles from the north county border. This call is at the county line at the south county border. It's going to be at least an hour and a half, and the is mostly freeway too!
So I am almost there, like 5 minutes away, when I see a tow truck headed the opposite direction. As it passes I see a completely smashed Volkswagen jetta, or at least that what what I was guessing. Then I get passed by CHP. They whip around and I slow down. Didn't anyone call? The cows died and are on the side of the road. Nope.No one called. Oh well, I was almost there at least I could try to locate the owner.
After finding the cows, two weanling size calves actually, I looked for brands. Nothing. So I went to the closest neighbor and spoke to the foreman of the grape vineyard. He told me that one of his workers saw the accident and told him about it. He had already called the owners and they were on their way. I would wait for them and get their information and make sure they knew to remove the bodies, or call rendering.
The owners arrived in their pick up. They were going to check the fences and then load up the bodies for disposal. I got their information to add to our livestock log.
By this time, the sun was up and it was about 7:30AM. I could either go into work early, or I could drive home and turn right around and drive to work. I wasn't going to get anymore sleep than the couple of hours I had. So I went to work. That was a fun day. I wish I could remember it, but I was sleep deprived and working on Auto pilot.
My last standby was again earlier morning, about 2am. Only about an hour drive. Even the county dispatcher had to laugh and comment how I ALWAYS get the cow versus car calls. Ha Ha. Even though it was only and hour away the dispatcher kept getting calls from CHP asking for an ETA. Um hello? WE don't have blue and red flashy lights and sirens. We don't have teleporters to get there any faster. The dispatcher was sympathetic. The about halfway there I get a call that the officers on scene were going to go ahead and shoot the cow and move it off the road. Ok. I thought about turning around, but I was on the freeway heading south, Again, and couldn't make and easy turn around. So I decided I would head out there and check for brands or an owner. Got lucky before.
I am almost there when I get another "update" the cow got up and mooooved. Sorry. Couldn't help the pun. Um I thought CHP was going to shot the cow? Nope. Thier Sargent told them to wait until I got there. Oh goodie. Good thing I was still on my way! And it mooooved? Ya I know I did it again.
Couldn't miss the location. They had the road blocked off completely. You would have thought it was a ten car pile up with the amount of cops on scene. Both CHP and SSD. For a cow. I get let through the road block and head to the center of it.
The cow is alive and in a sitting position on the side of the road. Just a note, cows don't usually sit. She obviously got hit in the head and body. One of her horns had been knocked off and was laying about 20 ft down the road. Her jaw was very obviously broken and she had bleeding from her side. She looked like she was going to topple over right there. The cops were worried that she was going to get back in the roadway. There was no car on scene. CHP said that the cow had been hot by 3 cars, but they reportedly all drove away.
I walked around her looking for any brands. None. I checked the livestock log. The only building in the area is a church and school. I have no idea who the cow belongs to.
Suddenly she starts lurching up from her sitting position and stands. I grabbed a rope but before I could get it on her she lurched towards a gate that went into the field. Several SSD and CHP quickly tried to get the gate open. Their main goal was to get the cow secure and the roadway open again. The cow had other ideas.
Instead of heading for the gate she suddenly turned and headed for the open field next to the gate. One CHP and I went after her. I got the rope around her head, but she didn't get more than 20 feet before she dropped down. She was done. So was I. I went to my truck and got my shotgun. The CHP officer was holding the rope but she wasn't going to get up again, Her head was down and she was breathing raspy breaths. I called my supervisor. I was willing him to pick up the phone. I heard a sleepy "hello". I quickly told him what was going on, and that I just needed him to authorize me to shot the cow. He asked about calling out a vet. I said that wasn't an option. So he said to go ahead. I hung up, loaded my shotgun and in a second it was done.
It was a perfect textbook shot to the forehead. The CHP officer was impressed.
It's kinda weird for me that I often get the same reaction. As if a woman being a good confident shooter is a weird thing. But then I guess I'm weird. We left the cow there after making sure she was dead. Tomorrow we would figure out who owns the cattle. When we got back to the other cops they were impressed that it only took one shot. Good thing it did, as I only had one slug to do it with. So The cops cleared out and I cleared the scene and headed back home to get a couple more hours of sleep.
And that is how my standbys have been going lately. How come I never get Standby calls that are close to home?

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

This song popped into my head today. I had shelter duty today, but despite being in the shelter I had to go out to do a special task. This is not unusual really, even though the task was unusual.
It all started about a week ago.
I got a bite report. We get several bit reports daily. As I was reading the note I cringed. Apparently the dog was euthanized at the vet but before it was euthanized, the dog managed to bite the vet tech. The dog was euthanized and then the remains were given back to the owner by the vet hospital for the owner to bury.
This is a NO-NO!
There are strict regulations that have to be followed regarding animals that bite. Live animals must be quarantined for 10 days and dead animals are to be submitted for Rabies testing. But no, the dog was sent home, to be buried.
So I'm looking at this thinking, really? Dog had been buried two days. Then I thought, since the notes indicated that the dog had been current on rabies vaccinations, perhaps there was nothing that we would be able to do. After all would the specimen even be viable after being buried for 2 days? I had to check. So I called our Supervisor that handles most of the Rabies specimens collections. He said he was going to have to check with the County Health Veterinarian, who does the rabies testing.
Well he got back to me and told me that we would have to "collect" the rabies specimen. I was instructed to call the owner of the dog and advise them that we would need the dog's remains.
I was so hoping to avoid this. I felt really bad, here their dog had to be euthanized, it bit the tech and now we wanted the body after they buried it. Crappy. Just crappy.
Well I called the owners. They were not happy. Can you really blame them? The owner told me that their dog was 15 years old, and she was dying. They took her to the emergency vet because she was in pain and suffering and their usual vet was not open. They had always kept up on the dogs vaccinations, and everything the dog ever needed. They didn't understand why the vet who euthanized the dog hadn't told them about this. And they were also upset about how the vet hospital had handled the circumstances of the bit and euthanasia. Regardless I had to ask them about digging the dog up. The owner was upset that this had to be done. He said he needed to talk to his wife and would call me back. He wasn't upset with me, just the situation he felt he was being put in. I told him that I understood and that I had tried to get around it, but could not. He asked to call me back.
A short time later I got a call back from his wife. She was also very upset and told me so. She was calm but I could tell that this was very emotional for her. She said that they had no intention of digging their dog up, and that if we had to have the dog we would need to come do it. Or better yet since it was the vet who dropped the ball on this, they should be the ones to do it. I had to agree with her there, but this was not going to happen. I gave her the supervisor's number when she questioned if this really had to be done. I told her to call him and ask him if this was really necessary. I really wanted to help these people out and NOT dig up the dog.
Well, I got a call from the supervisor. He told me I was going to have to go dig up the dog. He spoke to the owners and let them know that it was necessary, but we would dig the dog up, and return the dog when it was all done.
Yep, that's right, ACO turns grave digger.
So I called and spoke with the owners again. I was apologetic and made arrangements to come right away. They were going to leave once I got there. They didn't want to be there when I removed the dog. But they wanted to be able to show me were she was.
I got there and met the husband. He was a nice older gentleman. He showed me where the grave was, on the back wooded section of their property. He moved the stones he had placed on the grave and warned me that they had dug a pretty deep hole. I told him that I would leave it open for the re-burial. He thanked me and left me to my task.
He wasn't kidding when he said it was deep. I finally found the dog after 45 minutes of digging about 3 1/2 feet down. I could help but think about those old B-movies that depicted some crazy person digging up graves. But a crazy maniacal laugh would probably have been inappropriate at this time. Thank Dog she wasn't a big dog, only about 40 lbs. They had her wrapped in a couple blankets. I put her in the garden cart the owner had provided me. It wasn't too bad. The worse part was the digging and the 2nd worse part was hauling the cart back up the hill, through the yard, out the gate and to my truck.
So that part was done.
I won't go into details, oh the heck with it, I will. You see Rabies Testing is done on the brain. And since the County Health lab can't have a bunch of bodies of dead animals waiting for testing, only the head is submitted. Get my point? Well since we promised to return the dog to the owners after testing, and they didn't want details, well we had to wait until after the testing was done, so the WHOLE dog could be re-buried.
I went and picked the specimen up from the county lab. Then re-united the specimen, with the rest of the dog. Too much detail? Sorry, welcome to my glamours world!
Yesterday I got a hold of the owners. They would leave the gate open for me, but they would be at work.
So today, after cleaning kennels all morning, I loaded up the dog and drove her back to the owners house. When I was leaving the shelter, the old AC/DC song "Dirty Deeds" was rumbling around in my head. Don't know why. Once at the owners house I took the little garden cart again, loaded the dog into it (the dog is in a big black plastic bag so I don't freak out the neighbors) and dragged it back through the gate, through the yard, down the hill and through the wooded area to it's final resting place.
It's been a little more than a week and a few rain storms since I was there last. So I had to do a little MORE digging to get the dirt knocked in by the weather and time. I was also trying not to fall in the hole. Once I had a sufficient hole, I placed the dog back in it. Dirt is a lot heavier when it has been sitting for awhile in a pile, kinda like cement. It took me 45 minutes again to re-bury the dog. But I think I did a decent job. I even covered it with the bark ground cover the owner had on the original grave and placed the stones back on top. It, for the most part, looked the way it had been. I dragged the little cart back through the woods, up the hill, through the yard and placed it back where I found it. I closed and secured the gate and got back in the truck.
Done. Dirty Deeds.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Where'd You Go?

Where oh were did that ACO go? Oh where oh where can she beee?
Well, it's been a busy beginning of the year, both personally and professionally. I hope to return soon with more interesting topics. I am also contemplating the future of this blog.
In the mean time I have to share something that happened to a co-worker, 460. Hopefully I will get the details right.
I have mentioned 460 in several of my stories.
Well, 460 called me up the other day, she HAD to tell me what had happened to her. She had a call for a loose dog, nothing bad, not aggressive, just running loose. I can't remember if she had to catch it or if it was confined for pick up when she got there. Anyway, she goes and get this dog. She's walking back to her truck to impound the dog when she hears, "Meow". She stops and looks around and the dog is looking around too. She didn't see anything so she starts heading for the truck again. "ME-OW!"
There it was again. This time the dog looked up in a tree, so 460 also looked.
Sure enough there was the source of the "Meow". A cat up a tree. 460 starts talking to the cat, but remembers she still has the dog. She takes the dog to the truck and puts it in, then she grabs her catch pole and returns to the tree. She talks to the cat as it teeters on a thin branch, it talks back to her, seemingly frantically meowing at her. 460 said that the cat wasn't up too far, but the cat just seemed frantic to get out. So she used her catch pole to help lower the cat back down to the ground. She released the loop and the cat sat there for a moment. "Go on kitty, you safe now." The cat looked at 460 then bolted back up the tree.
Seriously!! And at the beginning of her telling me about this I had JOKED that the cat ran back up the tree.
Stupid cat.
Or are they? 460 and I contemplated this. Maybe this was a ruse, some kind of cat humor. The cat's buddies are hiding in the bushes laughing their little cat laughs and waiting for the next gullible hairless two-legger to wander by.
Think about that next time you look at your cat.