Monday, April 15, 2013

My Crazy Job

I'm an animal control officer, and sometimes I hate my job. Six months ago I told the story of Butthead Woman who was trying to sell eight 5-week old puppies. When I tried to explain to Ms. Head why this was illegal under Florida's Pet Lemon Law she gave me a litany of excuses ranging from she didn't know puppies needed to see the vet to HUD needed to find her a house in the country. Today the same woman came in and surrendered the mother dog and her remaining puppy. Apparently the government didn't come through with a country home and her apartment complex is fed up with her pit bulls running amok. (She ended up giving the other puppies away, therefore by-passing the vet requirement under the law. Stupid loopholes.) Neither remaining dog has seen the vet since . . . well, ever. Both dogs will be transferred to the county shelter tomorrow and will hopefully be sterilized, vaccinated, and adopted to a new owner. I would almost call this a happy ending, except Ms. Head's parting comment was that she "bought a Shit Zoo from a lady in Georgia but ain't seen it yet." I'd bet my next paycheck that I see her and/or her new dog before Christmas. Some days I wonder why I do this job. The pay sucks, the animals bite and I have been called things that would make Chris Rock blush.

On those days I try to think of the animals I've helped over the years, animals like Sammy the kitten. He had been dumped in the local nature preserve and was dying of pneumonia. I was able to nurse him back to health and find him a good home. I keep a picture of Nina the Carolina dog above my desk. She was a scared, dirty stray when I found her. She eventually came around and I was able to rehome her with a former coworker. I get periodic updates. She's living the good life at the beach.

I also try to remember the crazy calls. A couple years ago I got a call about drunk woman riding horseback (RWI?) down the highway. The police detained the owner and I impounded the horse. I'm a city girl and know nothing about horses! Horsey and I walked to the kennel, stopping -- a lot! -- to eat clover along the way. It took an hour to walk one mile. And then there was the time I had to call in reinforcements to help me catch a pair of wayward goats. Horses and goats are not your typical beach animals, but you'd be surprised what I've dealt with. Sometimes I stick around just to see what happens next.

Mostly though, I stay for the people. (You thought I was going to say "animals," didn't you?) Yes, I deal with some real jerks and my stress level would drop significantly if I were allowed to carry a Taser. (Just kidding, no need to call HR.) But then there are days when I can help someone, teach a child, make a difference. Those are my favorite days. And I have met some of the nicest, most dedicated people in the animal community. There is no way I could name them all, but I'd like to acknowledge some that really stand out in the Jacksonville area.
  • At an age when most couples start thinking about retirement, Pat and Dave Watson started up a low-cost mobile vet clinic. Then they added a stand-alone clinic. Now they're opening a second one. Animals all over Northeast Florida are better off because of their vision.
  • Saint Francis Animal Hospital has also stepped up to help the animals of the area, regardless of the owner's income. They recently opened 24-hour emergency clinic -- at the same rates as daytime appointments. "Our fees are not inflated just because it is after hours."
  • Friends of Jacksonville Animals (FOJA) is a non-profit organization that works directly with the city and county animal control agencies to "benefit the lives of shelter animals by focusing on fund raising to assist with medical care, enrich the shelter environment, promote adoptions, and reduce euthanasia."
I have also met some incredible people through blogging. I am pleased to participate in

Blog the Change  

Please visit the blogs in this hop and see what others are doing to help animals. I'll share my favorites with you next week. -- K