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Monday, December 26, 2011

Civic Duty and Justice

Back in June I got that sometimes dreaded letter from the Superior Court that I was being summoned for DUN DUN DUN!!!! Jury Duty! I was scheduled for mid August but that was a bad time because my son was graduating from Army Basic training, so I postponed my service. They gave me a new date and I promptly got the dates mixed up and on the day I was suppose to show up I remembered about halfway through the day. So I quickly called and got a NEW date to show up, October 3rd. Of coarse this was also a bad time, because my Walker Hound was expecting to deliver her puppies that week. Great. Can't postpone again. I was stuck this time.
I arrived at the courthouse and checked in, went through the whole waiting process. Finally got sent to a courtroom. Waited in the hallway with all the other "thrilled-to-be theres" until they started calling us into the courtroom. As I walked in and was directed to sit in the jury box, I noticed the Attorneys and the Defendant watching as we entered. I couldn't help but look at the defendant as I took my seat. My internal warning bell was going off for some reason. I silently questioned myself, did I know him somehow? I couldn't place his face, but there was just something that was giving me the heebie jeebies about him. I tried to ignore it. I had a lot of experience with jury duty and I know we are suppose to be impartial until we hear all the facts of the case. The judge wasn't even in the room yet so we had not been told anything. It was just pure creepiness.
After everyone was seated and accounted for, we rose for the Judge and sat down again. The baliff started bringing forward a box with papers in it. I knew what it was, again, my previous experience. Questionnaires. Great. Only really icky and long trials pass out questionnaires.
The Judge began to explain that we were to take the questionnaires and take 20 minutes to fill them out in the hallway. He then informed us what the case was about. The defendant was accused of Felony Animal Cruelty among other things. I had to bite my lip. Holy hoppin toads! I suddenly knew exactly who the defendant was. It was one of our cases!
Now, I hadn't worked this case, and had never seen or spoken to the defendant. But I knew very intimate details about the case. I knew the "victim". And of coarse I knew the Officers involved. Namely my supervisor. I could hear the groans and gasps around me as the nature of the crime was sinking in to the jurors around me. This was an easy out for me. But most of these folks wouldn't be so lucky, and this was one jury I wouldn't wish on anyone. I raised my hand before be were excused to the hallway. The Judge called on me and I told him my name and that I was an ACO for the county. He looked over my jury form. He asked me if I had knowledge of the case. Yes. Do I know Officer 453? Yes, he is my direct Supervisor. The judge nodded and thanked me for letting him know. I was instructed to speak to no one, especially at work about this case. I was told to turn in my questionnaire and return to the jurors waiting room, I was excused from this jury. He then also excused the rest of the jury pool to go out to the hallway to fill out their questionnaires. I could feel eyes on me, knowing they were thinking what a lucky break I got. I could hear a few people murmuring about how there was no way they could be on this jury. I thought I even hear someone crying. I got on the elevator and headed back down to the juror's room to be reassigned. I knew it was going to take them a long time to actually get a jury on this trial.
We were released to go to lunch. I was bursting to tell someone about what happened, but I knew I couldn't. I did text my dispatcher and told her only that I was excused from my first courtroom because of my status as an ACO. She's a smart cookie and knew exactly what case it was. I didn't violate any order. Didn't tell her anything. But I did tell her that this was going to be blogged for sure!
So the rest of my day went along boring as usual for Jury Duty. I got sent to another courtroom, sat in the box. Then we were instructed that we needed to return tomorrow to this courtroom for jury selection. Blah. That meant another day of jury duty, and on my day off!
The next day I showed up as ordered. I was feeling a little apprehensive though. Milly, my Walker hound had been acting weirder than her normal weird all morning. I had a feeling that this was her day. I texted my son because he would be the first one home and asked him to stay home until I got there just in case. I check with him at lunch time and he was home, nothing happening. But as soon as we had a break, I turned on my phone out in the hallway and the text message blew up.
"SON: On Ashley's Bed!!"
Crap. I called him. Asked him if he could move her out to the kennel room. No, she keeps growling at me. Ok leave her alone. I'll deal with it when I get home. How many? Two..oh wait Three! Gross, I think I'm gonna be sick!!" Yes, this is my 18 year old Army trained son. And this is why it always makes me laugh when people say they want their pet to have a litter so their children can witness the miracle of birth. Bull. First of all dogs and cats don't like to have an audience, they have a knack for picking the worst possible times to give birth, and it is gross.
So now I really don't want to be here. We went back in the courtroom and I was fidgety. The judge in this courtroom was sooooo sloooow. He did finally go around the jury and ask if there was any reason anyone could not stay focused on the case being presented. I raised my hand like a few other people. When he got to me he asked me why. I told him my dog was having puppies. He actually laughed. He asked, "right now?" I answered, " As we speak!" He moved on to a couple more people. I was eventually and shortly thereafter, thanked and excused by the Defense Attorney. The judge also thanked me for my service and wished me well with my puppies. I got all checked out and hurried home.
Milly had five very healthy puppies, 3 boys and 2 girls. And thankfully my daughter had actually made her bed that day, a rare occurrence. I only had to wash her comforter, her sheets and her mattress pad. The mattress itself was unscathed.
Now I bet your wondering about that first trial. It's finally over. That creepy degenerate was convicted of Felony Animal Cruelty. And because he is a habitual meth user AND a Parolee and just a scumbag in general he got a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison!!! That was even more than we were hoping for. And he is ordered to Register as a Sex offender!  It may represent the first time that "Jessica's Law" has been applied in a case involving sexual abuse of an animal. I will save you all the gory details as I'm sure you can already imagine how heinous this case was. I will tell you that the dog is alive, recovering. I won't say he's fine as this was a truly traumatic event for this little guy. And he does show some behavioral issue because of it, and a fear of men. But at least there is some Justice for one little dog.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Letter From the ACO's Spouse

(My wonderful Husband presented me with this letter today and asked if I liked it enough, would I post it to my blog. It's wonderful honey! I love it.)

My Husband writes:
From this blog you have learned what it is like to be an animal control officer and now what it is to live with and love an ACO. We got together before she became 461, her dream job. We both went through the PC 832 course at the same time but at different times of the day. She was working at the Main Jail twelve hours a day and going to 832 classes and somehow dealing with two kids. Sometime later she got hired on as an ACO, and then we moved into a house together. Of course this house had to have a barn and a pasture for horses, she found one but it has no A/C (barn and pasture were more important).
And I learned that ACO's all have at least one pet if not a small Zoo. We have horses, dogs, cat (cats until our 20 year old cat passed on) fish, chickens. I think you get the idea. All in contradiction to the evil dog catcher that hates animals. We had a recent addition to the family, Bear our Foster dog.  Well it seems that I was the last to know that he was staying with us (Those ACO's area a sneaky bunch!) Thanks 450! Bear will be our second shelter dog. Hera was going to be a foster dog but she found a home with 461 and when we moved in together she bonded with me. Then 461 got the hound dog bug from 450 ( thanks again), so we got Milly the Treeing Walker Coonhound. At first she was chewing and peeing in the house then we got her on track. 461 had a Golden Retriever, Shadow. He was an old dog when we first met and he lived about three years beyond the six months the vet gave him. All we required of Shadow was to eat sleep and play ball when he wanted to. Then one day 461 calls me at work, Shadow is down and it is time. I went with her to put him to sleep (she said I was the first to do that) we both had a good cry on the way home.
Now 461 has mentioned about no off switch, boy is that true! I have helped her with a neighbor's horse that was bleeding out (off duty). Responding to a horse stable in the path of a grass fire to move horses to safety (off duty) and once we fostered two kittens (we did not keep them!) because she could not euthanize another kitten that day. I took pictures of our vet stitching up one of our horses after she tore herself up running through a fence during a thunder storm and 461 having been a vet tech assisted. I told her I should have a reserve ACO badge for all the assists I have done.
Like being married to a peace officer, military, fireman, etc. you have to understand them. Many years ago I was a Correctional Officer; I think this is why I understand 461. She works a ten hour shift (if she's lucky) and there are those days she just wants to sit by herself for a while when she gets home. She knows when she is ready I will listen to whatever it was that day that got to her. She knows that I will always listen to the funny, not so funny and sometimes horrible things she encounters. I don't know at times how she and her fellow officers do it. But thank God someone does. I understand why she can't work normal hours or have weekends off and why I sometimes only see her when she is sleeping. And I try not to worry about the threats of violence and death she gets from those oh so caring pet owners.
But on top of it all I am very proud of 461, she is an amazing woman. A while back one of my brothers told me I should not let her be in this job because it was dangerous, I told him yes but she loves it and I would never tell her to stop doing what she loves.
461's Husband

Monday, September 26, 2011

Can I Go Back On Vacation?

Today was my last day of vacation and first day back to work. I worked  Swing Shift tonight and, ok maybe wishful thinking, thought it would be slow and easy. Not a chance! Every call for the first few hours of my shift was for injured animals! And one of the CC dispatchers was pissing me off. Probably more so because I was tired from driving out of the mountains then starting my shift 2 hours later.
The first call I had was for two aggressive dogs that wouldn't let the CP out of her house. I was patrolling the area looking for the dogs and was waved down by a neighbor. He told me that they had headed to the local park and that the dog owners were looking for them. I checked there and when I couldn't find them I cleared the area. This was on the south side of the county. Then I headed to another south call that was for an injured cat. Couldn't find it or the address, address was wrong. This happens pretty frequently. So then I headed North for the 3 injured dog calls that I had up that way.
I was about half way north when dispatch radioed me about the aggressive dog call again. Now the report was the dogs had attacked another dog and took off, the injured dog was now the one that wouldn't leave her porch. Sorry, I'll have to go back later. I'm almost to my injured dog in a field call when I get an update that one of the dogs has been hit by a car and Sheriff Deputies are on scene. Ok, well I will be on my way as soon as I get this call taken care of.
So I finally get to my call for an injured dog in a field. It actually came in yesterday, so I am expecting it to be gone. Then I can return to the South to deal with that other call. Nope, he's still there. The CP unlocked the gate and we went in. CP told me that he noticed the dog yesterday and he had tried to give it water. He had no idea how long the dog had been there as he had been out of town for work. The dog was an Aussie with a bad attitude amplified by the fact that he couldn't walk or run away. But he had a collar on WITH tags and a license. This is the tricky part. How do you get to a collar with ID on a dog that wants to take a chunk out of you? Well I managed to make friends with him pretty quick after having a little chat with him to show him I wasn't going to hurt him.
I managed to get the collar off and called the phone number, but it just rang and rang. No even a message machine. But there was a license! So I called CC dispatch to get the owner's address.
And of coarse I get my "favorite" dispatcher. I ask her if she can get owner info for a license number. She snarls back, " you KNOW we have SEVERAL priority calls waiting for you!"
"10-4 I'm aware, I'm at one right now."  Have you ever wanted to reach through a phone or radio and just slap the stupid out of someone? So I ask her again if she can check for owner info by license tag.
No answer. So I ask again. "GO Ahead!" She snarls back. I meekly smile at the CP who is standing right there the whole time with a shocked look on his face. So I give her the license number and wait a few moments for her reply. It's taking awhile. So I asked if she copied that number. "I'm PULLING up the screen!" she snaps back. And hear when I though she said go ahead she was ready for the info. So I repeat the number again. Waiting, waiting waiting. Finally she comes back and gives me the dog's license expiration date. Ya thanks don't give a hoot about that right now. Can I please have the owner's phone number and address? Long pause again. FINALLY I get the phone number which is the same as the tag, but I do get the address! Bingo!! It's only a couple miles away. So I get the dog loaded onto the truck. The CP is thanking me for doing what I do. I apologize to him for the length of time that it took for us to get to him. I explained to him that most days we only have one for 2 officers covering the entire county and my shift, the Swing shift there is only one officer. He seemed shocked that I was out working alone. I thanked him for his patience and left.
I stopped around the corner to get the calls that were pending for me. I got the other dispatcher first, one of the nice ones. The my "friend' came on to give me the priority call that she was holding for me.
She gave me the address. After giving me all the info in a rushed tone, which I think she does on purpose so we can't write it down, she ads that this customer is upset that no one had come to get this severely injured dog yet. Ya, well you can cancel that call. I WAS JUST THERE!!! That was that call I was working when she was being a mega witch over the radio. 
I headed over to the dog owner's address. I went to the door hoping that the info was valid. I asked to speak to the owner. The owner is a 89 year old man who is living with his son and family. The son asked if I had found their dog, in what seemed to be a joking tone. Yes, I believe so. SERIOUSLY?? Is he Alive? Yes but he is injured, he's having a hard time walking.The son calls to his dad, and helps him out of the door. The old man looks at me with hope on his face. Did you really find my Moose? Yes Sir I believe so. The son helps his dad to my truck I hand him the collar. He runs it through his hands. This is my Moose's collar! I open the dog box door and the son looks in. Yes that is him!  The dog hearing his masters voices gets very excited and wiggles his way to the door. I open it up and it's obvious that the dog knows his people. He's trying to get out even though he can't seem to get his back legs to cooperate. I helped the son get him out and onto the lawn. The old man touches the dogs face speaking his name softly while rubbing his ears. The son and I watch the re-union. The son then tells me they had almost given up hope, his dad had been heartbroken. The dog has been missing for almost 3 months.
The son carried the dog up to the house and I helped the old man up the driveway. At the door he turned to me with damp cheeks and took my hand. God Bless you for bringing my Moose back home. I could hear the son inside calling to his wife to find the car keys so they can take the dog to the vet. I shook the old man's hand and departed as he went into the house.
A simple $15. dollar license brought a dog back home to his owner after being missing for 3 months. Had the dog not had the license, the owners would have no idea he had been picked up and after 3 months they wouldn't be looking at the shelter anymore. He most likely would have been euth'd due to his condition. Happy Ending!
So onto my next destination, back down South. I called Dispatch to see if Deputies were still on scene.  I'm told that they are, so I give them a 30 minute ETA. That is the best I can do without breaking all kinds of traffic laws.
I think I got there withing 15 minutes. I pull down the street only half expecting the SSD to still be there. Like I said only half expecting. Nope was gone. I noticed a few people in the neighborhood out standing in front of their houses. Then I was the dog. He was sprawled in the gutter, alive in a huge puddle of blood. I pulled right up next to him and jumped out. It was there that I guess the neighbors felt safe enough to come closer. The dog raised his head a little and wagged his tail as I spoke softly to him. I reached down and gently touched his head. I heard some one give me a warning to be careful. I stroked his head and kept talking to him as I assessed his injuries. His guts were spilling out of his belly. I looked up and asked if anyone saw him get hit. One neighbor stepped forward and said he wasn't hit by a car. He looked around at the other neighbors then he said a guy came by and hit him with something then left. I got up and got into my truck and got a blanket and a towel. I gently rolled the dog onto the towel then wrapped him in the blanket. His tail was wagging the whole time. The same neighbor who had spoke up was joined by a lady from a few doors down. She said she was a nurse and asked if there was anything she could do. I shook my head and said I was going to rush him the the vet, but it was definitely not looking good. Another neighbor came forward and said that the dogs owners had just been here and left telling them to not touch the dog they were going to call a vet and come back for the dog. The neighbor who's house was directly in front of of said that this dog and another dog had been running loose and had chased his daughter and their little chihuahua. The other dog did grab his dog, but his dog got away, I asked if his dog was injured. Just lost a little hair on his behind.  Then everyone volunteered info as I am loading this poor dog into my truck. But no one got car license plates or knows who any of these people are who are directly involved. Then I learn that the dogs belong to someone on the street that is 2 blocks down. A major ghetto neighborhood.
So here's what happened. the dogs were running loose after escaping their own neighborhood. They go door to door looking for who knows what. They are pitbulls so immediately everyone is in fear. That was when they first were in the neighborhood. So they ran off and went to the park. That was when I couldn't find them. Apparently the owners where looking for them at this same time. They went back to this neighborhood again. The little girl and Chihuahua where in the front yard and the chihuahua ran out barking at the big dogs. The one chased the chihuahua and girl, taking afew hairs off the chihuahua rump off. This is where things get fuzzy. The second dog was apparently standing on the edge of the street watching his friend chasing the chihuahua when a man walking down the street, came up to the dog and hit him several times. The dog collapsed in the gutter right there and the man continued down the street and disappeared. The sheriff was called and someone else called CHP.
CHP showed up and said there wasn't anything he could do they were too busy and he left. The Sheriff showed up and basically said the same thing, called my dispatch with the Hit By Car call that they called me about. After the Sheriff left the owners showed up. The looked at the dog and told anyone within ear shot that they would be back, they were going to call a vet,  no one better do anything to their dog. Then all three of the people got back in their care and took off. This dog continued to lay in the gutter, no one by his side. And the neighbors were too afraid to get too close. Until I got there.
I stroked the dogs head one last time and spoke softly to him before closing the door. His tail thumping the metal side of the dog box. I knew he wasn't going to make the trip. I wrote up a quick seizure notice that this one neighbor said he would give it to the owners if they show back up. IF. Very doubtful.
I did my very best to get to the Vet as quickly as I could. But I knew he wouldn't make it. He didn't.
I was able to look over his injures. He had been stabbed. on the face, and the side of his belly. No dog deserves that. No matter what this was unexcuseable. But no one saw enough, knew enough, had anything for us to go on. Senseless. Sad Ending.
I try not to go over the what ifs. I just try to counsel myself with the fact that I was the last kind word and gentle touch he felt. He had a last few moments of love, wrapped in warm blankets and safe. HE did not die alone in a gutter.
I need another vacation.

(I just wanted to add that the dispatchers mentioned above are NOT our Animal Control dispatchers. They are county dispatchers that cover Animal Control Nights and Weekends. For the most part the county dispatchers are actually pretty nice to us, there are just one or two that well, don't seem to be exactly thrilled to be doing thier jobs. Our AC dispatchers, especially "LB" are wonderful and part of our animal control family. LB is especailly beloved by us because she is our "Mother Hen" on top of the hundreds of other duties she is charged with.)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

RABIES : What you Should Know

When most people think of Rabies, they think of the classic movie "Old Yeller" and the Stephen King horror movie "Cujo", both of which center around dogs that contract the Rabies Virus. Cujo was infected by a bite from a bat, which is a very likely scenario, as Bats are one of the predominant rabies carrier mammals. Old Yeller, was infected by a rabid wolf. Considering the current population of wolves in the United States, this is unlikely. However, both stories have had a profound effect on what people know about Rabies. And that is actually very little.

Just about any mammal can contract the Rabies Virus. Rabies has different strains or variations. The rabies virus targets the central nervous system, working its way up to the brain. Mammals are susceptible to rabies when a rabid animal bites it. The virus thrives in the saliva and enters openings of the body such as wounds and scratches. They eventually die as signs and symptoms of rabies worsen.

Here in our area there are 2 mammals that are known Rabies carriers. The Bat and the Skunk. This doesn't mean that every skunk and every Bat has rabies, it just means that these two mammals have the highest rate of becoming sick with rabies and passing it along to other mammals. Many people are under the misconception that Raccoons are carriers and any sick raccoon has rabies. In the Eastern United Stated this may be true, but here it is not. And actually most of the sick Raccoons found here are sick with Distemper.

Distemper in raccoons is caused by the canine distemper virus. The distemper virus, like Rabies, is fatal. The virus is contagious and spreads easily among animals. A raccoon with distemper will display many signs associated with the rabies virus and it is nearly impossible to tell the difference without viral testing.

Possible Rabies Symptoms:

Daylight exposure. Normally nocturnal animals infected with Rabies are more likely to be seen roaming around in daylight. The animal does not necessarily need to exhibit irritability to tell that it has the virus, especially when it effortlessly exposed itself during daytime. This does not mean that all normally nocturnal animals seen in daylight are rabid. Young skunks and raccoons are often seen during daytime, especially when they are very young.

Behavior. "Mad dog syndrome" is a term referring to an animal's behavior transforming drastically as the symptoms of rabies get worse. Contrary to the term, manifestations of this symptom can be seen in all animals afflicted by rabies. The animal is expected to become irritable as a result of the developing infection in the nervous system. As a consequence of the irritability, it will attack anybody or anything it sees. It will not show any signs of hesitation to bite other animals, humans included. Undesirable sounds or any noise in general will irritate and anger the rabid animal. It will eat and gnaw anything it comes across, as well as inanimate objects such as trees, chairs or bushes for no apparent reason. Be skeptical of a wild animal that seems unnaturally friendly, and having little to no fear of human interaction. Healthy wild animals will flee or hide from humans, or if cornered or trapped fight for survival. Unless they have been conditioned to take food from humans, which in light of our current subject is yet another reason why you DO NOT TO FEED WILD ANIMALS!
Other examples of wild animals acting aggressive will be a parent animal defending it's young,  it's nest, or territory. It should also be noted that a Rabid Animal will not be accompanied by other animals, rabid or not.

Water phobia. Animals infected with Rabies will not drink water. This is important to note especially in Raccoons. Raccoons infected with Distemper with drink water profusely due to the dehydration due to fever, vomiting and diarrhea. This it about the only notable difference between Rabies and Distemper in Raccoons.

Loss of muscle coordination. As the rabies virus works its way to the animal's brain, will start to exhibit uncoordinated muscle movements. Movements such as swaying and stumbles frequently. The animal will seem to be jittery in its movements. At this stage, the animal will produce too much saliva, which will drip profusely as it continuously loses muscle control. This saliva contains the rabies virus that can be transferred to another mammal if bitten. Look for signs of disorientation. Animals that are stumbling around, running into things or seem to be having trouble finding their way around may be infected with rabies. Many also appear to be turning in circles and falling over frequently. Infected animals may show signs of paralysis of some of their limbs, making it difficult for them to move around. It is also about this stage when an infected animal will be especially vocal. Raccoons and foxes especially will whine, chatter, scream and make other odd vocalizations.

Paralysis. As the animal loses muscle coordination, the symptom of paralysis follow. It's at this stage that the virus begins to damage the brain. The muscles in the jaw and the throat are the first to get paralyzed. At this time, the animal will no longer be able to attack anybody. Paralysis will eventually rule over the system of the animal. As the virus continues to destroy the brain of the animal, it will slip into a coma and eventually die.

According to the Center for Disease Control, rabid squirrels are extremely rare. Although any mammal can contract rabies, rodents and rabbits are not considered animals of concern as either carriers or transmitters of the disease. And usually these animals will die from the attack that would cause rabies before they even contract the virus.

While All mammals are susceptible to rabies, opossums rarely get the disease. This is thought to be due to their low body temperature and the rabies virus not being able to survive the opossums body temperature. Opossums are marsupials.

If you or your pet is bitten, scratched or exposed to a wild animal, see your doctor immediately and report to your local Animal Services, Agriculture or Health Department.

Check with your local and state departments to find out what animals in your area are most likely rabies suspect animals  as this can vary in different parts of the country and world.

This is also why it's important for your pets to be vaccinated and re vaccinated for Rabies.

To learn more about how Rabies is Transmitted, the Incubation Period and Symptoms, please refer to the CDC website:

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Loving Too Much

There are several different TV channels now with shows about Hoarders. My husband is about to ban me from watching the one on the animal channel because i get "crazy" and yell at the TV. What is frustrating to watch, and yes I am aware there is a lot we are not seeing, is the rescuers that come in and coddle many of these hoarders who we KNOW are going to keep on doing what they are doing after the cameras are gone. Sure we see at the end of the show "three weeks later: all is well and happy." Laa Tee Daa...What we don't see is in 6 months when animal control is called back and in 2 years when the situation is the same or worse.
This happens especially in cases where animal control is thwarted from doing their job. None of these people get prosecuted or convicted of animal cruelty. They are allowed to keep many of the animals and get more. Then the cycle starts over again. And Animal Control has to start back at square one. It's frustrating to watch and know, as well as working these types of cases. And the animals? This is the tragic part nobody really knows about. Almost all of the animals taken will need to be humanely euthanized due to health or behavior. The rescues on TV will leave you with that fluffy bunny feeling that they are going to find homes for ALL the animals that they take from the owners. Reality check!
Of the dozens of dogs take from one guy who ALL had severe cases of mange, to the point where they had no hair and severe skin infections, do you really think ALL those dogs are going to get homes? Do you understand the long tern care to get the dogs health enough to be adoptable? Let's say there are 12 dogs taken, maybe 2-4 will be saved. For cats the odds are even worse. But the fluffy bunnies don't want you or the hoarders to know that.
And that is what is so frustrating. They will be able to do it all over again.
There are many types of Hoarders. I had a dog hoarder who had close to 30 dogs. She was a foster home for a Rescue. When I asked her if the rescue knew how many dogs she had, she said yes. They keep giving her dogs. She was aware that she had too many, yet she couldn't make herself say no. She couldn't bring herself to tell the Rescue that they needed to place these dogs. Out of sight out of mind on the Rescues part? I wasn't able to get a hold of the Rescues Director so I didn't know. However, the hoarder seemed almost relieved that someone turned her in. I wrote her a warning notice that gave her 30 days to reduce the number of animals. She would be allowed to keep 4 dogs. I went back 30 days later. All but 4 of the dogs had been returned to the rescue and re-placed in other foster homes. The former-hoarder also got the 4 dogs she kept licensed. She proudly showed me into her home, where she was very embarrassed to allow me in before, she was so proud that it was clean and no longer chaotic. She was also able to move her elderly mother out of a nursing home and into her house now. Before, she couldn't have her mother at her home. Not only because of the dogs but because she couldn't let anyone in the home due to the conditions it would reveal. She thanked me for "busting" her. Now she has a life other than working and caring for dogs. She and her mother are also able to take a vacation out of state. She hasn't taken a vacation in over 7 years. This is one of those few exceptions. This is someone who is aware that they are in trouble, but so overwhelmed that they don't know how to ask for help or are too embarrassed. Or how to say no. This type of Hoarder has probably a 50/50 chance of repeating her hording behavior. And that is as good as it gets.
Another hoarder case that rears it's ugly head every now and then is one where the hoarder is crafty and elusive. This hoarder was first brought to our attention when her house caught fire. This was before my time, that just shows how long this case has been going on. This is a cat hoarder. I don't know what it is about cat hoarders, but they tend to be the most difficult. Well this particular hoarder has her place set up so that no one can see in, except maybe her neighbors who occasionally catch glimpses of the horrors they report to us. This hoarder has a high locked gate that is far from front door. I also suspect that she has cameras. We leave notices regarding complaints and she knows the drill. She is somehow able to move the excess cats to another location before allowing us in to do an inspection. We have found that there are many hoarders like this who have more than one house so they are able to relocate animals temporarily. It's a giant shell game and they are very good at it. To this day we still have not been able to catch her in the act. This hoarder is not only a repeat offender, she never stops.
Another hoarder like the one above has multiple residences, in different jurisdictions. The house we accessed the hoarder wasn't able to get all the cats out. This place was a house of horrors. The garage was filled to the rafters with junk, including cages where animals were being kept. Feces was piled up in the cages. Inside the house was even worse. Furniture, cages and rotting garbage lined narrow pathways throughout the house. The garage door into the kitchen, couldn't be opened more than a few inches due to the debris. Feces covered everything in 2-3 inch layers. The pathways were 4-6 inches of feces. Our Senior Officer actually threw her shoes away after being in this house. Cats still scattered here and there. We had to set traps to catch the remaining cats. The hoarder? She moved to another location, apparently one of three that we were aware of. And she and other person had been living in that filth. Several moths later she did the same thing. She abandoned another residence in another jurisdiction again leaving behind horrid conditions and abandoned cats. this hoarder is much like the previous will be in a few years when it starts to catch up to them. But how many animals have to suffer until they get to the point where they have to stop and are caught.
And there is the cat hoarder who psychologically cannot see the problem. She doesn't smell the acrid feces and urine stench that can be smelled before getting up the driveway to the door. She doesn't see the sick and emaciated cats among the healthy ones that are everywhere. She doesn't see the dead cat that is laying on her coffee table in her cluttered feces ridden living room. Her own children have called Animal Services to help as she has already shut them out. Sometimes in these situations the family has called APS (Adult Protective Services) and APS has called us in. In theses cases all the animals are taken. There is no other choice. And if they do stay in their home and refuse to surrender animals it becomes a babysitting job. They don't have to open their homes to us. And many just don't answer the door. And then the family suddenly refuses to cooperate after feeling guilty for making mom or grandma so upset.
And unfortunately we all are guilty of enabling them sometimes. You can get sucked into it. For the animals sake.
We have a case we are working now. Hoarder "M" is somewhat different from many of the hoarders we deal with. Surprising her tiny apartment is immaculately clean considering she has currently over 30 cats. We have so far been able to have her surrender 44 cats and kittens. She is a very nice elderly woman and is very attached to her cats. All her cats. They ALL have names and all are very friendly. It is very emotional to the point of making her physically ill to surrender any of the cats to us. But she is very cooperative and isn't in denial of the situation. She is aware that she has too many cats and she cannot continue to keep doing what she is doing. She knows she is loving them too much. Issuing her a citation or taking her cats by force, will not help the cats, and will take longer for us to be able to help the healthy animals. And she won't open the door for any of our male officers. We do have to spend a good deal of time working with her. And she is one who is on that tentative tipping scale of as many as she lets us take, she will bring in. She loves them all too much. She even admits that if any of the complex children who she also calls her babies, bring her an animal, she is going to bring it in. This could be a very uphill battle. We are trying to keep the battle field level. Slowing reducing the number to a manageable maintainable level and removing and trying to save as many cats as we can. And trying to not drive her over the emotional edge.  
It's all so complicated. Every case is different so you have no easy step by step to follow.
I had someone, a family member of a hoarder, very frustrated with the whole situation ask why Animals Services can't be doing more by providing mandatory therapy free of cost to these people instead of charging and fining them.Why can't Animal Services impose a lifetime ban on these people for owning more than 1 or 2 pets. This would prevent them from going out and collecting again and again.
This is a huge frustration of mine. We do as much as we can to try to rescue and save the animals. We cannot force people to go to therapy. Even if they are sentenced in court to go to therapy or never to own animals again. They do what they want. And many times they move out of the jurisdiction that they got "busted" in and start all over again. I know for many Animal Service Agencies we are having our budgets slashed, employees laid off, less volunteers, and the case loads don't slow down. Free services (at least here in our county) cost someone something. The money has to come from somewhere and someone has to pay for it. So we "bust" the hoarder, they are cited to appear in court, we take the animals and at the expense of the facility, they are examined by a vet, treated or euth'd, housed, fed and cleaned up after for however long is required. And when you have double to triple digits of animals coming from one case, on top of the hundreds of animals that are already in the shelter as well as the multitudes more that come in daily. Who pays that bill? The hoarder? Not that I have ever seen. Oh, they may receive a bill for services, but they don't pay it. And when they go to court, they are sentenced, to court fines and to never have animals. It is up to them to comply. And if they move, like they frequently do, they are in the wind again until the get caught again. And unfortunately if we don't know where they went we can't give a heads up to the next jurisdiction.
So our hands are tied and we are left with the bill.
I don't fault the TV shows for portraying hoarding. I hope that maybe showing some these situations will help educate people of the unknown, some recognition to the problems and help hoarders families get the help they need.
Anyone who has dealt with Hoarding cases know it's a mental disorder that needs long term care. This is not something we as Animal Service Officers can provide and we can only do so much.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

And It's Not Even A Full Moon

Every day is a busy day anymore with staffing levels. So we look at our call sheet when we are heading out to the field to assess what needs to be done the most urgently. I'm looking at my call sheet and see this one call for a pick up of 8 dogs in some one's apartment. That just doesn't seem right. Of coarse what does go through my head is either someone found a litter of puppies OR their dog had a litter and they are trying to get rid of them without paying a fee.
I decided to give the CP a call to find out what was going on. I took note that the address was in a pretty ghetto area, so there were possibilities that the dogs had been abandoned. The CP answered and I told her who I was and asked her if the dogs were a mom and puppies. She said that some of them were. I asked her if there were 8 or was that a typo, she stated that there were actually 13 dogs she had a couple of the neighbor kids count them.
Were they small dogs? Some are.
How did they get into your apartment? I don't know, I took my own dogs out about 4am and they were here when I came back.
Do you have a roommate or someone living in your house that maybe brought them in? No, my daughter is in LA. I just don't know how they could have all gotten up in here! I can't even go in my bedroom because that big shepherd looking one growls at me when I even open the door. They are everywhere! Hiding behind my couch, be hind the TV stand and under the TV stand. They are just every where! There is a mother dog with puppies behind the TV one of the puppies is under it. I can see it's eyes.
I can't even begin to explain all the scenarios gong through my head. I knew I had to see this for myself. I had that inkling that there was something off about this CP. But I could be wrong. This woman was very serious sounding, her speech wasn't slurred, she was very articulate sounding, she didn't stumble over words or give me any indication that she was off her medication or self medicating.
I told her that I would be there in approximately half and hour. She thanked me profusely and told me she has been sitting on her front porch since 4am she is so afraid to go into her apartment.  I assured her that I would be there as soon as I could, barring any emergencies.
Oh, there is one more thing I hope that you can get. There is a baby rattlesnake under the TV stand.
BING BING BING!! The cookoo alarm in my head just when off full tilt.
I asked if she was sure that it was a snake? Isn't one of the puppies under there? How did it get there? Oh I think one of the dogs must have brought it in. Please hurry?
Of coarse, I will be there as soon as possible. I need to make a call to see if another officer will be able to help me with all those dogs, my truck won't hold that many.
So I hang up with her. I would have been speechless had anyone else been with me. This was just too good to not share! So I called 460. She was the South Officer for the day and I was the North.
I gave her the whole story between episodes of laughter. She agreed that two officers were needed for this call. IF there were 13 dogs no way I would be able to handle that load, and OFFICER SAFETY.
She was about as far out as I was, so we would meet there.
We did arrive at about the same time. We both rolled into one of the most ghetto-fied apartment complexes in the area.
There was the CP, sitting on the front porch of her Second Story Apartment. She waved to us as we found our parking spots. 460 and I came together and both exchanged the "look". You know the one where you look over the top of your sunglasses at each other knowing what each other is thinking? Ya, that look.
So we climbed the stairs to meet the CP at the top. First thing I notice is her two little dogs barking furiously at us. Then I notice her eyes. Blood shot, glassy with a hind of yellow tinge. I am half listening to her hush at her dogs and explain where the dogs are hiding in her apartment. The front door is wide open and I can see that both the couch and love seat across the room appear to have been shredded. Stuffing coming out everywhere. I enter her apartment with her and 460 stands by near the door. I begin to search the room using my flashlight to check every crevice and dark places. My first stop is the TV and Stand where the mom dog, puppies and snake are suppose to be. The CP is pointing from across the room Right there! Right behind there!
Nothing behind the TV. Nothing under that TV stand, which by the way is only about 1-2 inches off the ground. I search behind the couches and boxes in corner. Nothing.
The CP is insistent that I check the TV stand again. I stand in front of the TV and ask the CP to show me where she sees the dogs. She insists that there is one starring at her right now, she can see it's beady little eyes. So I get down as far as I can with out laying on the floor and look into the dark 1 1/2 inch high space.
I was using my flash light. Nothing.
I stood back up and told her nothing was there. Where else?
Well, where did they go?They were all in here! I swear I am NOT going crazy!
Uh, Ya you are. Your already passed there lady. Of coarse I didn't say this out loud. But I did look over at 460 and could read her mind as well. And she was thinking the same thing.
We checked the bedroom for the one she insisted way growling at her. Nope.
We checked under her kitchen table and her spare room. Nothing.
We checked behind the washer and dryer, and even showed her that snakes were not poking their little heads out from under her washer.
Back to the living room. She is still insistent that they are behind the TV. So I look behind it again.
She points to the spot next to where I am standing.
If you move the big brown one you'll see the puppies!
Where? I can see the empty space she is staring at.
It's right There!...It's wagging it's tail!
I wave my hand in the empty space. Right here?? :wave wave wave:
It was time for us to end this case. We would be there all day, looking for invisible animals. I still couldn't tell if she was off her meds or ON something. Other than seeing invisible dogs and snakes. She seemed perfectly fine.
He neighbor came out and yelled at her, I told you there wasn't nothing in there!
But she was still convinced. She still insisted that they were there, hiding. I told her that if they came back, what she needs to do is get them all in a box and bring them down to the shelter. We will take them for free!
We got in our trucks and drove out. As we did I called 460 and warned her not to look and roll up her window. CP was on her balcony trying to get our attention. Drive Drive Drive!
We got the heck outta there. We drove just down the street to an empty lot. It wasn't until there we could safely burst out in laughter at the whole situation! Just as we started to discuss whether to call APS County Central calls me on the radio.
They said that the CP from the Call I was just at called back, she said the dogs are back and there are about 10 hiding behind her front door. That must have been where they had been hiding...Uh is there anything we need to know about this CP?
Uh, yes that is affirmative, she's a 5150. No danger to herself or others but if she continues to call in might want to have SSD or APS go out and check on her.
And I got 4 more phone calls from her on my cell, just let it go to voicemail.

I entered my report in that evening being as professional as possible without ad-libbing remarks.
460 simply put in, Assisted 461 with invisible animals.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hot Dogs and Big Box Stores

Our county has a Zero Tolerance policy against leaving animals in vehicles. It's also against the law in the entire state! Yet every summer we see news reports of some "Dumas" who leaves their dog in the car, and they are "shocked" when the dogs dies and they are arrested for Animal Cruelty.
Just the other day I got a call to the big W store. A dog in the car. It was still fairly early, around 10am, but the outside temperature was already 75 degrees. add 10 degrees that that means the inside of the vehicle is 85-90 and climbing. I wasn't close, within 15 minutes at the least. that's another 15 minutes for the temperature to climb. I did finally get there and met up with the sheriff who also got the call. He had just got done talking to my original call, but also pointed out a jeep that also had a dog in it that he just got a call on. The CP for that one was still on scene. I told the Deputy he could go ahead and 10-8 since I was there. I was talking to the CP who said that she confronted the jeep dog owner as he was going int he store and he blew her off. Told her he was going in the store for 10 minutes. That was five minutes ago. I checked out the dog in the jeep. He was a black lab sitting in the passenger seat. All the windows of the vehicle were rolled down. the dog appeared to be wet. I also saw there was a big bowl of water in the back and the dog wasn't panting or appearing to be in any distress. I stood there a few moments writing down the vehicle info when the owner came out. So apparently he had been in the store for only 10 minutes. Just as he showed up so did the parking lot security. I began to give him the "talk" about the dangers, the law, the fines...etc...I gave him the handouts. He was very cooperative and cordial with me. Apologetic that he was taking up my time. And that he was just returning from swimming his dog at the river and that he just didn't think that a few minutes in the store and his dog being wet would put his dog in danger.
I  was giving him the handouts regarding Hot Dog calls when I saw another vehicle that had just pulled into the space facing the jeep. A little white dog in the car. the female driver got out, slung her purse over her shoulder and clicked her car alarm/door locks. The little dog stood on the seat frantically clawing at the closed window as his owner was headed towards the store. I couldn't believe it. Really? right in front of me your going to leave your dog in the car? I got her attention and asked her to come back. already I could tell that she was  Miss Attitude. The huff and the eye roll.
I pointed at her car with her little fluffy white dog scratching at the window." Are you seriously going to leave your dog in the car right in front of me?"
She gives me this once over look and says " I'm just going in for a minute." There is that little head wagging attitude and another huff like I'm some sort of moron that should know she has important things to do. 
" Ok, you go in the store and I'll seize your dog, or you get back in your car and take your dog home, then you can come shop for as long as you want." 
Well she didn't like either of these options. She started to go off on me, I'm a "f-in' B" and that I have no right to tell her what to do.  Blah blah blah....As she was having her little tantrum I told Mr. jeep driver he could go ahead and go. Miss Attitude was still screaming at me as she got into her car and revved the engine. She said I was a nobody f-n-b and that she wasn't ever gonna shop at W store again! F! U! Slams her door and screeches out of the parking lot onto the main road.
The security guard was standing by patiently this whole time watching the scene. She commented that she wished that they could confront people like that, but they aren't allowed to. And now W store won't even make announcements over the intercom for them. They have to call the Sheriff or Us. I gave her handouts that she could post on vehicles as well. Then she tells me that there is a motor home on the other side of the store with Three dogs locked inside and none of the windows are open.
I think to myself I should just set up an office here. By now the outside temperature has climbed to about 90 degrees.
I follow her over to the motor home. Sure enough 3 little white dogs area sitting on the dashboard of this motor home barking at me like crazy. I walked all around the motor home and didn't see a single window open. The engine wasn't running and I pounded several time to see if anyone was inside. The dogs just barked. I got back in my truck and began to prepare the seizure paperwork when the elderly owner and her granddaughter ran up to the vehicle.
Is there a problem?
Yes, your dogs area locked in a enclosed vehicle.
But the air conditioner is on! She unlocked the door and entered inviting me inside. The interior of the motor home was a comfortable temperature and a small fan circulated the cool air from a rooftop air unit.
Ok. Then I went ahead and explained to her about animals locked in vehicles and that you cannot tell from the outside that there is an AC unit keeping the inside cool even with the vehicle motor off. I went ahead and gave her the handouts and let her off with a warning.
So four different vehicles in one parking lot at approximately the same time with dogs inside. And unfortunately it's not uncommon. I was told recently that one of the MALLS in our area has recently had a high number of shoppers leaving their dogs in cars and going inside the cool air conditioned mall to shop. One dog, a German Shep was recorded on security video trying desperately to get his head through the tiny space left in the window. A big hairy dog in a smallish vehicle, window only down a few inches in full sun on a triple digit day. What are people thinking? that's the problem. They Aren't!
There is NO REASON to take your dog to the store and leave it in the car. IF you cannot take your dog into where ever it is your going LEAVE IT HOME!!! I don't want to hear your lame excuse that your were only in the store for a minute. IF I get there and your still not in your vehicle leaving after the call had gone from the reporting person, to the operator, to the dispatcher, then to me, you have been in the store for more than 10 minutes. If I get there add on another 15 minutes for my travel time. That is 25 to 30 minutes that your dog has been in the car! So don't give me that old lame excuse "I was only in the store for 5-10 minutes."  I'm not the moron, you are.

Check out my blog where I show you in my own actual experiment on MYSELF in a hot vehicle.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Angry Homeless and Stinky!

I'm not sure if it's the temperature rising, the full moon, or a combination of both, but it sure seems to bring out the freaks, the jerks, and the crazies. and when your really lucky, you get all three wrapped into one stinky package!
I was in the back of the shelter trying to end what was a crazy busy day. I was able to complete 18 out of 25+ calls. The calls never seemed to end today. I was just getting ready to put a cat away when I heard over the radio, the front desk needing security ASAP. It was a few minutes after closing and this wasn't a good indication. I put the cat down and started heading down the hallway to the front of the shelter. Then I heard over the shelter intercom an urgent request for any and all ACOs to the front lobby. I stepped it up and ran the hallway to the lobby doors. Over my radio as I entered the lobby, I could hear the subject's description being given to Central Dispatch. It was here that I rounded the corner and saw the subject, and heard the subject ranting at the adoption counter. He had on ripped clothes, long scraggly hair and beard and a wild look to him. He was also prodding the floor with a 4 foot surveyors stake. As I got closer his smell overpowered the skunk smell that I had linger on me. SJ (StinkyJames as he was later dubbed) was demanding his dog back. 460 arrived just before I had and we apparently were the only ACOs in the building. All the "guys" has already left. Female Power! Everyone handled the situation very well, SJ was ranting about his dog. He was demanding his dog. He wasn't leaving the building without his dog. Not gonna happen. SJ's dog was impounded last night for attacking a woman's dogs and biting her in the process. SJ's bad dog was staying with us for at least 10 days.
The security guard showed up, but he wasn't much help. Yes, I understand that their primary purpose is to observe and report, so why did they send him FIRST before Sheriff showed up. We were observing and reporting just fine. Seriously, but I have issues with this one guard because he had a hissy fit when I had the sally port door open to REMOVE my truck from the sally port. He was flipping out that he didn't have a key to lock it...really dude how am i suppose to pull a truck out with the door locked? Ok I should be over that now. I'm just saying I don't have a secure feeling with this particular guy.
SSD finally showed up, after SJ is ranting about how he's going to do $40,000 worth of damages, and that we have a lot of windows, and that every day that he doesn't get his dog, we are going to have to have a contractor out. Oh, and he's going to come back and kill our supervisor.
SSD got him to leave the building, it took the Deputy a little convincing but he finally went outside. Another SSD showed up and they talked to SJ for awhile. 460 remembered this SJ from a few months back. He camped out in front of our shelter for 3 days wanting his dog back, harassing everyone that came with animals to drop off and actually was trying to take animals from people. Turns out that time his dog wasn't even at our shelter, it was at the City's shelter. So we had previous history with this guy and him not leaving.
SJ was told to leave and a Trespassing Order was issued. SJ still didn't leave immediately. The deputy even asked if he could see his dog so they could deal with him to leave. I told the deputy, No Way. The dog is in Quarantine for Biting. We are not going to bring out a dog that is on quarantine for biting and we are certainly not going to let SJ back in the shelter. Sure let's show him right where to go when he breaks into the shelter to steal his dog back! No deal.
Well, after all was said and done, SSD rolled away while SJ wandered over to the dog park. I saw him talking to someone who was just pulling in, then he walked up to another park visitor. He then pulled open one of the dog park gates and left it open.
Really frustrating to see him doing this and not being able to do anything. After the threats he made against the shelter and staff, SSD just leaves him to wander the shelter property. Our staff was safe though. That was our number one concern. I had to get back to unloading and putting my animals away. I had 15 minutes left of my shift and at the least 45 minutes of processing to do. Paperwork would have to wait.
I called 465, who was on swing and gave him a heads up about SJ. Turns out 465 is the officer who impounded the dog last night! I got the story from him. SJ and his dog were at a "stop-n-rob". Victim and her two dogs were walking by on leash. SJ dog was not on a leash and chased down and attacked the victims dogs. Victim got bit trying to get her dogs away. SJ was drunk an belligerent so SSD was called. And 465 was called. SSD arrived first and SJ dog tried to bite SSD, nice. So SSD put SJ and dog in squad car. When 465 arrived SJ was given the option to be cooperative and put dog on truck. SJ decided to be even more belligerent and refused. SJ and dog had to be forcibly removed from the back of the squad car. SJ tried to fight with SSD, that never goes well. So SJ ended up going to jail for being Drunk and Disorderly as well as Resisting arrest. Dog got to go to doggie Jail.
And now who knows, he may be lurking in the bushes of the shelter. Guess we will see what happens tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Foster Dog Bear (Day 1)

I found out about Bear from 450 while I was working Swing shift last night. She's the one who is guilty of getting me into Hounds. She has a Bloodhound, Buckshot, who I love and want to steal from her. She is also the one I got my beautiful and challenging Walker Hound, Milly from.
 Well, she calls me and tells me there is this 1 year old Bloodhound that came in the shelter a couple of days ago. He was surrendered by his owner's son. His owner recently died. The son apparently couldn't or didn't want to keep him. And if you know hounds, you probably understand, hounds are definitely not for everyone. 450 told me that he failed his behavior evaluation, and he has a skin condition that he needs medication for. What did he fail his eval for? He wouldn't engage the behaviorist. All he would do was stand in the middle of the room and not react to anything.  He was shut down. With no way to rate his behavior from his lack or response, he was failed for Behavior, and would be assess for rescue. That would take time. He would go to a foster eventually.  His second issue was the skin condition. And that will take time and medication. And 450 knew I would say yes to being his foster.
I think this is also a ruse to keep me from eyeballing/kidnapping Buckshot any time soon!
So I went ahead and called the supervisor real quick since I knew he was just leaving or left the shelter and might not answer my call later. He gave me a quick approval if I was going to take him tonight.
When I got back to the shelter, I did the things i needed so I could take a break to check this dog out. when I got to his cage he was a sorry looking dog. He looked like he was a hundred years old, not One year. He barely even looked at me until I opened the kennel door and got a leash on him. His skin and coat condition made him look much older that he was. He wanted out of that shelter though. He practically dragged me to a door to go outside. Once outside he relaxed. I took him to a small play yard and let him get to know me. Then I managed to get him to go back inside the shelter with me. Ne hated it, he kept freezing and scrambling like the boogie man was out to get him. I took him in the temp test room and he just stood there in the middle of the floor. Completely different dog than the one from outside.
I looked up his medical record and his behavior eval. He has Flea allergy Dermatitis. His fur coat looks terrible, thin, crusty and stinky. The behavior eval said just what 450 had told me.
So he was going home with me for a while.
I brought him home late that night. Everyone was still up to greet him and we got him settled in a crate in the kitchen. Other than a couple of whines, he settled down when I house got quiet.
This morning went well. Bear didn't eat breakfast, but that could have been due to all the change and excitement. Since it's my day off, I could spend the whole day with him.
Milly and Hera aren't especially thrilled. They just go over a house guest we had for the weekend. My mother's little male poodle. Now i bring this guy home. Milly thinks he's stinky, as she exhibits by drooling when he's around and just avoids him. Hera thinks he's annoying. He has found her toys that are all over the house and yard. And he wants her to play with him. And he gets too close to the couch when she is laying on it. My dogs are snobs. Which considering Hera is a shelter dog, boy has she gotten spoiled.
Bear has also met the cats. And my cats are completely disinterested. So he ignores them. He tried to chase the chickens, but they're wise the the ways of dogs (thanks to Hera). and I told him No once and he hasn't bothered them since. Then he met the horses. He was shy and I think the horses were more curious than he was. Well, JC could care less, but the girls where interested. I think they though he was a pony . Especially since he's only half the size of Nikka our Mustang.
He sure does like it out here! He has been exploring the barn, the chicken shed and all over the yard. I won't let him out in the horse pasture until I'm sure he's ok and the girls won't try to kill him. And has spend most of the day running inside and outside. I'm beginning to see the puppy in him!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Dog Bite Prevention Week

In honor of Dog Bite Prevention Week, I'm posting the link to the blog I wrote in December about bites.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Animal Control SWAMPED With Weather Related Calls

It's been raining. A lot. And more is apparently on the way. And because of this we are even more inundated with neglect calls. These on top of our already backlog of calls. Everyone is doing the best that they can to keep up with the demand for service. Apparently that has not been good enough for some members of the pubic, as we are constantly threatening to "speak to a supervisor" "call the media" "call the county board". I say go ahead.
Hear's the deal. While you (Jane or Joe Public) perceive, lets say, horses standing ankle deep in mud as neglect and demand immediate response, there are several calls for injured cats and dogs, hit by cars because a fence blew down, gate blew open, or tree fell on fence. Or there are dogs running loose chasing people because they are free due to the above reasons and don't know how to act in public. OR your call is the 20th or 30th in a long line of lower priority calls.
But you DEMAND immediate response! These horses are suffering. And if we don't get out there and do something IMMEDIATELY your going to tattle to the media, supervisors or whoever else will listen. Your going to write several "strongly" worded letters and email them to us demanding satisfaction for your complaint.
Something to take under consideration. Our county has roughly 14 million residents. Did you know that? And of these I would say 1 out of at least 3 has at least 1 pet. Also there are 995 square miles of this county. In busy seasons past, we had 2-3 ACOs in the north side of the county and 2-3 in the south side. Now we have only 2 maybe 3 covering the entire county. We also used to have 2 Swing shift ACOs. One for the north and one for the south. Now we only have ONE for the entire county.
Our phones are non-stop with calls coming in, 24 hours a day.
We try to get to the highest priorities as quickly as possible. It's hard enough when your on one side of the county within a couple miles of a priority call and you get another priority call on the complete other side of the county that you know, even if you turn around RIGHT NOW it's going to take you over an hour to get there, and that's if traffic is cooperative. And you also already have 7 other priorities throughout the county waiting to be done. Then you get a lower priority call that you are told must be worked due to the complainant has or will call media etc...And chances are even if we do drop everything and go do this call they will complain ANYWAY. Very frustrating and discouraging. What makes it even MORE frustrating is the calls like this are 90% likely to be unfounded.
We are getting lots of calls for horses standing in mud and with no shelter. Please realize this: Our county is located in a HUGE VALLEY with one major river running through it along with several other large rivers. It's prone to standing water and every few years, flooding.
Horses are silly creatures. I know. I have three myself. Right now they are called "mud-beasts". My horses, like most in this county are standing in mud. The back portion of their pasture as well as my neighbor's pasture (which he lets me open the fence and use) has only about an inch or two of mud and a little grass left. It's our "high ground". But my silly mud beasts like to stand at the gate to watch the house so they know when they are going to get fed. This churns up the mud in front of my gate and barn. Its about 4-6 inches deep. I also have a three stall barn. Of the three beasts, one refuses to go in unless she is eating. She will stand out in the freezing blowing rain with her backside to the wind. I have tried to lead her in and she flips out. It would be more dangerous to try to lock her in than to have her standing out there, And horses are not required by law to have shelter. It is a nice amenity, and some horses do like shelter. But there are horses all over that do not have shelter. Especially those that are on properties that can range from a couple acres to hundreds of acres. Again, Livestock, including horses, are NOT required to have shelter. and right now you cannot avoid the mud. Do you own horses? Unless your horse is in a 300-400 a month stable, or you have your barn and stalls built on concrete on a hill, you have mud. I've been to some pretty nice stables and THEY have horses standing in mud. It's a fact of life this time of year.
Our other most "popular" weather related call is dogs left out in yards, or on patios, without shelter, all night and day. Unfortunately, these are about 49% founded to be true. No we cannot just TAKE the dog if we find that there isn't shelter. Actually there is usually some form of "shelter" in the owner's view. But a patio overhang is not considered adequate shelter. The shelter needs to be constructed so that the dog can get out of wind, rain and sun. It needs to have a roof and at least 3 sides. Ideally the floor should be raised off the ground a couple inches. Or bring them in the garage or house when weather is really bad. There isn't a law that says dogs must be in the house, but they must be provided with shelter! Not to mention that if the dog has shelter, or is in the house or garage, they won't get out and get in some kind of trouble if the fence or gate is broke or blown down.
Need a dog house but can't afford one?? CONTACT THE SHELTER! We still have a few dog houses left from a previous promo.  Know someone who needs a dog house or shelter? Pass it on!
Now I'm NOT saying don't call in to report neglect or a possible problem. We will investigate all reports, it just may take us a few days. With only a couple officers working in the field we can only do so much at a time.
Calls are checked for their priority by our dispatcher, and our field Supervisor and the ACOs. We read the notes that the operators have inputted and in some cases our dispatcher or an officer will call the complainant back for further clarification. Unfortunately we do not have time to call every person back. Again we would be spending more time on the phone and less time doing the calls. If this is truly a life or death situation, such as say a reported tethered dog (priority 4) is now tangled in it's tether so badly it cannot get free/cannot move and is in medical distress (priority 2) we certainly want to be called immediately. But if say said tethered dog is now still tethered and it's barking and that is distressing you, this doesn't raise the priority level. We will get to your call. Most likely not on the same day you placed it but we will get there. 
During these bad weather days have a little extra patience. Not only have our call logs increased, but we are also slowed down by traffic hazards and the weather itself.
Just think, in a coupe of months the ground will be dry and the temperatures will be high.