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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.)


  1. Holy Moly. I dont know how you do it. It must be so hard going from a reunite call to a call of abuse and ending up with a dead dog. I wish I could do this job but there is no way I could. I admire you.

    Please make sure to bookmark our new address we have moved:

  2. Stories of abuse like this make me sick. Thank you for all you do, there aren't many people who could do your job.

  3. Ummmmm.... The saddest blog ever! First tears of joy then tears of sorrow!! Your such a great officer, your the picture perfect person for this job.

  4. Bless you for keeping your cool and your sanity when working with the public. Don't think I could.