Wednesday, January 30, 2019

What's That Smell?

Jedi works that nose
Last year's AKC Scent Work workshop went so well that my German shepherd dog club held another one this past weekend. I signed up both dogs. What a busy day that was!

Jedi hadn't done any scent work in a year. Fortunately, he remembered how the game is played:
* Find odor
* Tell Mom
* Get chicken
We were both a little rusty. I need to work on leash handling and remember to stay out of Jedi's way. Jedi needs to be more specific about where the odor is hiding. The instructor gave us exercises to help Jedi hold the alert longer and communicate the find more enthusiastically. Basically, we're trying to convince him that his dope-on-a-rope handler (me) needs a little extra help.

Trooper likes hot dogs
On the other hand, this was all brand new for Trooper. We started off just encouraging him to find bits of hot dog. To build drive, the instructor would throw the hot dog pieces and I would send him with the "go find" command. Then we moved to hiding hot dogs in places like open boxes and on chairs for him to find. We ended the day pairing the target odor (birch) with the hot dogs. Eventually, I will uncouple the two and just have him find the odor -- and when he does he will get lots o' hot dogs.

Instructor said that the workshop was about four weeks of class jammed into one day. We'll probably have to backtrack a couple steps to make sure Trooper's got it, then progress slowly. Instructor warned of stopping the pairing too soon, stating that we should realistically wait 3-4 weeks. (Note to self: look for a sale on hot dogs.)

A change from last year: The instructor alternated teaching the novice group and the advanced group, instead of doing one group before lunch and the other afterward. This new format worked really well. It gave dogs time to rest and process what they just learned. It also gave handlers a break in between exercises. However, I had a dog in each group so I was running all day. On a happy note, I reached my Fitbit step goal!

What's in the bag?
The club members hosting the workshop this year have multiple titles in NACSW Nose Work and AKC Scent Work. They wanted the workshop to mimic trial conditions. As such, there were designated parking and potty areas. Also, all dogs were crated in a centralized location. This created some mild stress for Trooper, but I think it'll be good for him in the long run.

The worst part of the day was the weather. It was cold by Florida standards. I wore heavy socks and leggings under my jeans. (I got to wear my 2018 Westminster sweatshirt, so that was cool.) The dogs were inside the garage where it was nice and warm. The handlers weren't so lucky. We bundled up and gathered around the fire pit in between runs. I'm not going to complain too much though, it was equally cold and raining the next day.

I'd really like to start competing with Jedi again. He enjoys the game, along with the hotel stays and on-the-road junk food. I also think scent work will help boost Trooper's confidence, even if he never formally competes. But it's not going to happen if I can't find time to train. I've got to find some way to make this work. Have I mentioned that this must-have-a-job thing really gets in the way of my dog sports? If only I could hit the right Lotto numbers . . . I'll keep you posted. -- K

Monday, January 28, 2019

Catch of the Day

I got a strange call just after lunch today. There was an owl stuck in the ditch and a crowd was forming. Great. My tools and training are for dogs and cats, so I was going to have to wing it (pun intended). I grabbed a box out of the recycle bin, a roll of packing tape, a pair of welding gloves and a net. I may or may not have sworn under my breath. (Just kidding! You know I swore like a sailor.)

I arrived on scene to find a group of Good Samaritans who wanted something done, but didn't want to do more than gawk and get in the way. I hate having an audience.

First thing I noticed: this was more than a ditch. It was the major stream that runs through the City. I saw an owl sitting in the water about five feet below me. I was able to climb down the bank and scoop the owl out of the water on my first try -- and without falling in! Seriously, it could have been ugly.

Barred owl
Getting the owl from the net into the box was more difficult than it could have been. The owl wrapped it's talons in the mesh and didn't want to let go. My welding gloves protect my fingers from the beak and talons but provide no dexterity. I ended up closing the box, leaving only a foot exposed. I had a cop work the box flaps while I slowing pried the talons out of the net one by one -- sans gloves! We taped the box shut tight and cut a few holes in the top. I loaded the box on my truck and took it to the ferry. The Bird Emergency Aid and Kare Sanctuary (B.E.A.K.S.) picked the owl up from the other side of the river. Hopefully it'll be better soon.

My best guess is that it was a barred owl. I didn't take any pictures. So many things could have gone wrong that I was more worried about getting out as quickly as possible. However, a bystander took this (unflattering) picture and sent it to my boss, who promptly posted it on Facebook. I've shared my feeling about work putting me on Facebook before (recap: I hate it). But that doesn't stop me from stealing the pic to share with you.

So . . . how was your Monday? -- K

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Trooper's Sleepover

Trooper and I cutting the corner in Savannah
Part of the Futurity/Maturity shows discussion with Trooper's breeder included me telling her of all the problems/shortcomings I saw:
  • Trooper is very sensitive and stresses easily.
  • Trooper doesn't like to be touched by strangers, especially men.
  • I cannot get Trooper to hold his stack.
  • I have not attended handling classes as regularly as I wanted.
  • I cannot run fast enough to keep up with him.
  • My work schedule won't allow me to go to North Carolina for the shows.
I told J-Lyn that before we made any decisions I wanted her to spend some time with Trooper and make an honest assessment. I took him to her kennels to spend four days with her. He was happy to be back to his birth home, playing with his sister and cousins. He genuinely loves J-Lyn and her family. The jerk barely even noticed I was gone. (Good for him, but it hurt my feelings.) I missed him so much. It reminded me of when my boys went to summer camp.

I got daily updates:
  • Enjoyed playing in the yard with all the other dogs. No problem with other dogs.
  • Ate his meals enthusiastically. No signs of stress being away from home.
  • Did well meeting strangers. He was intentionally introduced to men, children and people of various ethnicities.
  • He's not fond of pushy women or smokers. (LOL, neither am I.)
  • Walked nicely through Home Depot. His threshold seems to be about 20 minutes.
  • Doesn't appear to be overly sensitive to sound.
  • Seems to prefer free stacking (self-stacking) versus hand stacking.
  • Beautiful movement, needs room to open up. Would probably do better at larger, outdoor shows.

I also got homework:
  • Practice free stacking.
  • Get him out and around people as often as possible.
  • Hand him off to trusted strangers.
  • He'll be a year old next month. Should start road work (running alongside a bicycle) soon.

So what's next? I filled out the entry form for the Futurity/Maturity shows. Breeder and I are planning several more sleepovers so she can get Trooper ready for the show. Her granddaughter will be working with him as well. She's young, tall, confident -- and a much better handler than I am! She will be taking Trooper in the ring in North Carolina.

OMG, we're doing this!! I excited. And nervous. I'm also looking for a used Kelley-sized tricycle for road work. I'm not the most coordinated person. And I don't trust Trooper not to pull me. I think three wheels may be a safer option. Anyway, I'll let you know. -- K

Friday, January 25, 2019

Why ACO?

I was asked a strange question today: Why did I choose to become an ACO? Wow. That one threw me for a loop. I didn't have an answer.

Honestly, I became an animal control officer by accident. My husband retired from the Navy in 2005 and we quickly discovered that I could not remain a stay-at-home mom on his retirement pay. No matter, the boys were getting older and didn't need me around like they had before. Up until then I had worked with children as a room mother, den leader, camp counselor, a retail vendor of high-end children's books and an educational assistant for children with learning and behavioral issues. I was good at what I did, but kids weren't my passion. I really wanted to be a zookeeper. (L-O-N-G story for another time. Short version -- elephants are awesome!) Unfortunately, that never came to fruition.

I applied for 20+ jobs in a 2-month period, focusing on animal related positions -- veterinary offices, boarding kennels, pet stores, etc. I got a few callbacks but the employer always "went with someone else." It was disheartening. I saw an ad for Animal Control Officer online and filled out an application with no expectations. Surprise! The County called me back.

Me & my M-14 in Gaeta, Italy
The interview was like none I'd seen before. A panel of three people were firing questions at me, and some of them didn't make any sense. Why did they want to know the last book I'd read? (My answer was John Grisham's The Client. Dead people drama. Oops.) And when asked to describe a time I had to make a difficult decision under pressure I told them about how I nearly shot four Italian divers in a Zodiac raft because I thought they were terrorists trying to bomb the USS Yosemite. (It's a good story!) I finished with "840 American lives depended on my decision." They all looked at me in silence, wide-eyed and open mouthed. I knew I'd blown the interview.

Months later I was offered the job. I became friends with one of the guys on the panel. One day I asked why I was chosen when obviously I wasn't qualified. He laughed and said "We couldn't get over that story about the Italians." The director felt that qualities like problem-solving, courage and honor were paramount -- they could teach ACO skills.

I transferred to a small beach town 18 months later because they offered me better benefits, shorter commute, less euthanasia and a schedule flexible enough for me to finish my Bachelor's degree. Long time readers know I have a love/hate relationship with the job. I'm good at it -- I like rules, have a compassion for animals (and some people), think on my feet, multitask well, and have a thick skin and strong stomach.

Just another day on the job
On the other hand, this job is frustrating. I get tired of dealing with stupid people. Even worse are the cruel, callous people. I feel like I've done about all I can do in this small town. There is no room for advancement or professional growth. My "collateral duties" are unbelievable. I often wonder what else is out there. And I worry that I've been here too long. Is it even possible to switch careers at 50?

And then the big question: What then would you like to do? IDK. I love to learn and share what I know. (One of the reasons I continue to write this blog, even though only a dozen of you read it!) I've often thought that Humane Educator would nicely marry my work/volunteer experience with my degree in Workforce Education and Development but -- sigh -- neither the Zoo nor the Humane Society seem to want me. Any ideas from you guys?

So, while waiting for the next job to come around (hopefully soon) I'll continue to do my best at this one. And I'll continue to share those crazy, funny, frustrating stories. Later, -- K

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Futurity/Maturity Shows

Young pup at the 2014 SE Futurity/Maturity shows
I've been talking to Trooper's breeder about entering him in the GSDCA Southeast Futurity/Maturity shows in March. This is a different type of dog show -- one that I'm still a bit confused about. I've been Googling my brains out and this the best I can figure.

The Futurity/Maturity program was designed to encourage and reward the breeding of dogs that most closely conform to the AKC breed standard. Each National Club (aka "parent club") runs it's own Futurity/Maturity program, so there are slight differences for each breed. The German Shepherd Dog Club of America (GSDCA) Futurity/Maturity program is (sorta) explained here.

If a breeder feels she's got a good pairing, she'll nominate (essentially place a bet on) the litter. This is usually done before or just after the litter is born. Puppies from a nominated litter are shown in the regional shows held each spring and summer (the GSDCA has nine separate regions). The competition is similar to a regular conformation show. However, winners earn a portion of the nomination fee. Then all regional winners compete against each other at the National shows in October. Apparently it's a big deal.

Plaques & rosettes from the 2016
SE Futurity/Maturity shows
The regional Futurity/Maturity shows are hosted by GSD specialty clubs (like mine). Since Futurity/Maturity shows are held in conjunction with a club's Specialty shows, they draw a bigger entry. The hosting clubs also get a small portion of the entry fees. However, hosting the Futurity/Maturity shows is a lot of additional work.

The regional club usually gets the nod from GSDCA 18-24 months out, giving them time to find a judge -- preferably one that will attract participants. The GSDCA contracts a show superintendent to manage the entries and catalogs. They also provide trophies. A local club member is designated regional chair to handle all the fine details -- and there are a lot of fine details!

So how does it work? Puppies from a nominated litter are eligible to be shown if one of the registered owners is a GSDCA member. (FYI: Trooper's Breeder/Co-Owner is.) The class a puppy is entered in depends on it's date of birth. The Futurity classes are:
  • Junior Class
  • Teenage Class
  • Amateur Junior/Teen Class
  • Intermediate Class
  • Senior Class
  • Amateur Intermediate/Senior Class
The Maturity involves the same dogs that competed in the Futurity, after they've had a year to grow up. Just like the Futurity, one of the dog's owners must be a GSDCA member, and a dog's class is dependent on the date of birth. The Maturity classes are:
  • Junior Class
  • Amateur Junior
  • Class Senior Class
  • Amateur Senior Class
Here's a kicker: If the litter was nominated, but the dog was not entered in a Futurity, an additional $150 fee is required above and beyond the fee to show in the Maturity classes. So, regardless of whether we go to the shows in March, I need to send in the $30 entry fee -- just in case. Ugh. I'll keep you posted. -- K

Monday, January 21, 2019

Trooper Takes it All

I finally got Trooper's win photo from the Savannah Kennel Club Match last November.

It appears that neither Trooper nor the judges were as excited about the win as I was. LOL. -- K

Sunday, January 20, 2019

2019 Pet Blogger Challenge

Oh my, where did time go? I was finally getting the hang of 2018 then -- poof -- it's 2019. And it's already time for the Pet Blogger Challenge! This annual hop is a fun way for pet bloggers worldwide to share their thoughts on blogging:
  • What works?
  • What doesn't?
  • What would you like to do better?
  • What can others do help?
What a great community! With the answers to just a few questions I learn so much about blogging and other bloggers. Sometimes I even learn something about myself. A giant thank you to Amy at Go Pet Friendly (one of my favorite pet blogs) for hosting this every year. Without further ado, the questions:

1. For those who may be visiting your blog for the first time, how long have you been blogging and what is your main topic?

I started blogging in 2012 after I lost my heart dog, Logan, as a way to work through the grief. The blog was depressing, so I don't recommend you read it. Things got better with the arrival of new puppies, Jedi and more recently, Trooper. Kelley's Dog Blog is my story: A disorganized, uncoordinated woman who tries to enter the world of dog shows/dog sports. I’m waaay out of my league, but I'm having fun. Along the way I share some of my misadventures as an animal control officer in a small beach town. I drink too much wine, eat too many carbs and may or may not have homicidal fantasies. I blog because it's cheaper than therapy. I never expected anybody to read my blog. Apparently my sarcastic, slightly neurotic thoughts are entertaining. Or maybe people just want to look at pictures of beautiful dogs.

2. What was your proudest blogging moment of 2018?

I was able to blog from the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show! I've wanted to go for decades, but never found the time, money or ability. Every February I'd watch it on TV and say "Someday . . ." In 2016 a friend told me to "piss or get off the pot" and reminded me that we're not getting any younger. That was the kick in the pants that I needed. This Florida girl researched, planned, saved and made it to NYC to see the show.

3. What was the biggest blogging challenge you faced in 2018, and how did/will you tackle it?

Apathy. Somewhere along the way I became overwhelmed with life, work and some personal issues. Stress turned to depression and I shut down. I didn't care about anything. It sucked! A new puppy helped me snap out of it. (BTW, new puppy not recommended for everyone.)

4. Which of your 2018 blog posts was your favorite and why? (Please include a link.)

Saving Elsa was a good day on the job. They're not always good.

Missing for months and found in a ravine

5. Which of your 2018 posts was most popular with your audience? Why do you think it does so well?

The post that got the most hits last year was Sniffing Again. I guess people like to see dogs working. I know I do! I'm looking forward to sharing more dogs-in-action posts this year.

Trooper's cousin before the 2018 shows
6. Did you implement a new series, feature, or practice on your blog in 2018 that you’re enjoying?

I did! I have a series about putting together a dog show. In 2017 my German Shepherd Dog Club was thrown for a loop. The women who had organized our annual dog shows for the last 8 years quit. Just. Like. That. A friend and I decided that rather than losing our AKC sanction, we'd do it. Surprisingly, we pulled it off, albeit awkwardly and on the fly. The series didn't fare well with regular readers, but I like knowing it's out there for the person who needs it. I have a page full of links for the clueless Dog Show Newbie. Nothing thrills me more than when I get a message from a DSN saying thanks.

7. As the social media landscape changes, how are you promoting your blog posts and connecting with new readers?

LOL. I'm not. (See answer #1.) I really suck at this stuff. However, I did recently join Instagram and am having fun with that. Can I even link my blog to Instagram?

8. Looking forward to 2019, if you accomplish only one thing through your blog, what do you hope it is?

Humor. There's a fine line between sarcasm and surliness and I think I may have crossed it somewhere along the way. At my age I am way past brooding maiden and dangerously close to bitter old crone. Note to self: Mean ≠ funny.

9. What steps are you planning to take to ensure you reach your goal?

Booze? Brownies? Profanity? Seriously, I don't know.

10. Now it’s your turn! How can we help? Is there an area where you could use some advice, or an aspect of your blog that you’d like input on? Share it here, and we’ll answer you in comments!

My posts are irregular and the content is all over the place (much like my life) and I think I've lost many regular visitors because of it. How do those of you with successful blogs pull it off?

So there you go! Comments, questions and constructive criticisms are most welcome. I look forward to spending time with you all in 2019. But for now I'm off to see what others are sharing. Later, -- K

P.S. This is a blog hop. Click on the links below to discover some pretty cool blogs!

Friday, January 18, 2019

Marsh Madness

Trooper refused to look at me. Turd.
My vet is between work and home. Trooper had a vet appointment last week after work. There wasn't enough time to go home and back, but too much time to sit at the vet's office, so we ended up at Castaway Island Preserve. Jedi and I have been there several times, but this was a first for Trooper. It was hard for me to drive into the park. We took Roxy there to eat McDonald's the morning we put her down. I wasn't prepared for the deluge of emotion. Six months feels like yesterday.

After a good cry, Trooper and I took a powerwalk through the park. The paths are concrete and/or raised plank, so you can get a good pace free of tripping hazards. The park butts up against the Intercoastal Waterway, revealing some beautiful marsh views.

According to my FitBit, we were able to pick up nearly 3000 steps in 37 minutes. Woohoo! Getting Trooper to sit still long enough to take picture was much more challenging. Thank goodness for digital  . . .

Tips for park goers: There is no shade on the walkways, so wear sunscreen. Bring water for you and your dogs. If you choose not to powerwalk, you can easily stroll down the clear, wide paths. Stay on the paths because the ground is boggy.

There is no entry fee for the park. Dogs are permitted on leash only. There is one poop bag station and only a few trash cans. If you can't get your dog to potty on command, expect to carry around a full poop bag for a while (I did).

Get out and do something fun with your dog today! Later, -- K

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Duck, Duck, Trooper

Trooper discovered ducks this morning. We were walking and came upon a group of Muscovy ducks hanging out. When Trooper moved closer to investigate they flew to the other side of the ravine. I was able to get a picture of him pondering how to get to the other side, as the ducks taunted us with angry quacks.

I'm happy to report that this is as close as we got. Fortunately, the water was a good deterrent. I'm glad Trooper isn't a lab, else the results may have been different. Later, -- K

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Jedi for the Win

Look at Jedi's ribbons!
We went back to Deland on Saturday for more Barn Hunting. Jedi needed one more leg to earn his Open (RATO) title. First time in the ring he found both rats, made the tunnel and climbed in 1 minute, 39 seconds -- earning him the last leg, the title, first place and high in class. We walked out with a bunch of ribbons! Woohoo.

I had paid for two runs (just in case) and we were offered the opportunity to move up to a senior run. The senior ring is twice as big as the Novice/Open ring. It also contains four hidden rats and has two 90-degree turns in the tunnel. Yikes. Jedi wasn't as thrown off as I had predicted. He found two rats and was sniffing out a third when the judge called time. It was a long day of hunting for all of us. Afterwards, we went to a dog-friendly restaurant with friends. That was a lot of work for Jedi and he napped through lunch.

We wore him out
Trooper tagged along for socialization. He was touched by a bunch of people and seemed to relax a bit (but not as much as I'd like). He more-than-tolerated my friend Barb -- mostly because she was feeding him roast beef.

The boys were restless on the 90 minute ride home. Hubby passed our exit and headed for the dog park. Jedi and Trooper romped for about 45 minutes before we called it a day. That was enough to drain whatever pent up energy they had!

It was a quiet Saturday night for us. I got some uninterrupted computer time, Hubby watched some TV and we all turned in early. Hooray for dog sports! -- K

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Lulubelle's Power Plush

Trooper is hard on toys. He loves plushy, squeaky toys. And he loves to tear them to shreds. If something lasts more than a week I consider it a win. I spend too much money on toys (and too much time picking polyester fiberfill aka "squeaky guts" off my carpet).

One of the things in Trooper's win basket from the match in Savannah was a Lulubelle's plushy toy by Huxley & Kent. I'd never heard of them before. But the tag said that:

It went onto say that "Each whimsical POWER PLUSH toy is fused with a layer of durable mesh on the inside to make these high quality, soft plush toys hold up to the scrappiest canines! No loose pieces and strongly stitched reinforced seams. Squeeze! Squeak! Slobber! Repeat!"

Challenge Accepted!

I gave the toy to Trooper and told him to do his best. He did. It's been chewed so much that the squeaker end is flat. Surprisingly, it still squeaks -- even after being thrown in the washing machine a half dozen times. Two months of tough love and the toy still looks like this:

I'm happy to say that Lulubelle's plushy toys are as tough as advertised and this one passed the Trooper test. -- K

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

True Story

Posted on my private FB wall
Last Sunday a friend texted me a screenshot from Facebook. Some knucklehead had a picture of his dogs running loose on the beach -- on a public Beach Life page. I found the post and clicked on Knucklehead's name. His page was set to public -- allowing anybody to anonymously view it. And the page was full of videos of his dogs running loose on the beach. Naturally, FB and GPS auto-filled the name of my small beach town.
I watched the videos and discovered that:
  • The houses in the background revealed that all the videos were shot in the same two-block stretch.
  • All the videos were posted between 8 and 8:30 in the morning.
So . . . 8:15 on Monday morning I entered the beach at the south end of the suspected range and turned left. Can you guess what I saw? Two dogs running loose. Knucklehead was shocked when I wrote him a ticket. I couldn't believe it was that easy! BTW, I didn't tell him about my detective work -- that's between you and me.

Today's tip: If you're going to break the rules, don't advertise it on Facebook. Want more tips? Check out Things to Say to Guarantee a Ticket and Dumb Ass Dog Owners. If you get a ticket it's your own damn fault! ❤ ya, -- K

Friday, January 4, 2019

NOT As Seen on TV

People watch Animal Planet and Nat Geo Wild and assume that they know my job. It's frustrating. They don't realize that shows like Animal Cops and The Incredible Dr. Pol are the result of lots of creative editing. That one hour episode was most likely filmed over several days (or weeks). I had many calls last month that reminded me of this misconception. Below are a few things I'd like to clear up.


Yes, microchips are wonderful. Yes, I can scan an animal to see if there's a microchip. But no, we won't get instant results. It can take 30 minutes to never for me to find an owner. People wanting me to scan a dog so that they can return it and be a hero are usually disappointed. I'll either take custody of the dog, research the chip and hopefully return the dog myself OR I'll give Good Samaritan the chip number and let him do the investigative work.

Quick primer: A microchip is a radio transmitter and the scanner is a receiver. When the scanner passes over the chip, it powers the chip and ideally an alphanumeric code (not the owner's contact info) is displayed on the scanner's screen.

Microchip codes are registered with one of a dozen chip manufacturers. It takes time to figure out who has which chip. Even then, there can be roadblocks:
  • Sometimes a chip stops transmitting.
  • Some foreign chips aren't recognized by my scanner. I know something is there, but can't read what it is.
  • Sometimes the original chip company has been sold or merged with another company.
  • Sometimes a chip is registered with two different companies, each with different information. (This happens because some companies charge to change info.)
  • Sometimes contact information is inputted incorrectly. I've seen numbers transposed, names misspelled and .net addresses listed as .com.
Also, microchips only work if the information is valid. About 10% of the chipped animals I pick up never make it home because:
  • The chip was never registered.
  • The phone number has been changed or disconnected.
  • Owners moved and left no forwarding address.
  • The registered owner gave the animal away and the registration was never transferred.
So yes, I can try to find the dog's owner, but it takes more time than you'd like. Giving me attitude because you wanted to return Fluffy before church isn't helpful. (And it isn't very Christian-like either.)


OK people, repeat after me:

Just because a raccoon is out during the day does not mean it has rabies.

I am soooo tired of saying this. My dispatchers are tired of saying this. And we're all tired of being told "You're supposed to be the experts" in one breath and "You're lying" in the next.

Yes, raccoons are usually nocturnal in the wild. But things are different in the city. They're smart and have adapted to our urban environment. Raccoons have learned that if they stay up a little longer they can get an easy meal (i.e. garbage cans, food left outside for cats, koi ponds, bird feeders). Don't want raccoons in your yard? Don't make things easy for them!

Please, chill out with the rabies thing. We haven't had a rabid raccoon in Small Beach Town during the 12 years I've worked here. That being said, I euthanize sick raccoons every year. Raccoons can carry -- and spread -- both canine and feline strains of distemper. Unfortunately, symptoms can look like rabies to the average freaked out untrained resident. I wrote an informative post about raccoons and distemper last July. The big take-aways are:
  1. Vaccinate your pets and
  2. Don't feed raccoons -- either intentionally or unintentionally.
Lastly, Animal Control will not remove healthy raccoons from personal property. If a resident has nuisance wildlife, they need to contact wildlife specialists. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has LOTS of rules about how and which species can be relocated. Wildlife specialists have the tools, knowledge and licensing to do things correctly -- and they charge accordingly. Yelling at me because Critter Gitter charges $300 and you "pay taxes" doesn't change those facts. (But it does get you on the blog. Jerk.)


Small Beach Town is a beautiful place to live. People pay quite a bit of money for houses nestled between the ocean and the wetlands, with everything surrounded by trees. The city is a tree sanctuary. As such, it's teeming with wildlife -- that everybody thinks has rabies.
  • Raccoon? Rabid.
  • Opossum? Rabid.
  • Fox? Rabid.
  • Squirrel? Rabid.
  • Feral cat? Rabid.
  • Loose pit bull? Rabid.
  • Snake in the garage? Rabid.
  • Turtle sunning itself in the park? Rabid.
It gets ridiculous. I try to educate the public, but it seems to fall on deaf ears. More often than not, I'm accused of being a liar or "just a stupid dog catcher." One of my Other Duties As Required is to write public service announcements for the residents (which my boss attaches his name to and gets all the credit . . . but I'm not bitter). Here is the original of an article I wrote on rabies a few years back, before the boss screwed it up. The big take-aways are:
  • All mammals (but only mammals) can carry rabies.
  • The rabies virus is transmitted when the saliva of a rabid animal gets into the bloodstream of the victim (usually from a bite). You can't get rabies from something walking through your yard.
  • Rabies is a weak virus and cannot live outside of a living host for long. You won't get rabies from touching a dead animal in your yard.
  • Even if you are bitten by a rabid animal, you have time wash the wound and get to the doctor. You will not die on the spot. However, you should not wait a few days "Just to see." (Yes, that's happened!)
One final note: When people tell me that they can tell that an animal has rabies just by looking at it, I know they're lying. Depending on how condescending they're being, I may call them on it. I have been known to say:
Well that's impressive. The only definitive way to determine if an animal has rabies is to test tissue from the brain stem and cerebellum. As far as I know, that can't be done with the head still attached.
OK, so maybe I can be a bit bitchy . . .


I'm thankful for this -- even if it does make my job
more difficult at times
I can't confiscate someone's animal just because:
  • The neighbor says something.
  • I suspect something hinky.
  • I don't like the way the animal looks.
  • The owner is a shithead.
  • The house looks empty.
  • The dogs are locked in a car but look OK.
The 4th Amendment prohibits Illegal Search and Seizure from the Government. There must be exigent circumstances (i.e. the dog will die if I don't act right now) for me to violate a person's Constitutional rights. Otherwise, I need a warrant.

Yes, it can be frustrating. We have procedures in place. Unfortunately, they take time. Know that I'm documenting everything and building a case as I go. Accusing me of "being lazy" and "not doing your job" doesn't help. My job would be much easier if people spent more time with a civics book and less time posting on Facebook. Grrr . . .

It's a new year and I'm sure I'll have plenty of new stories to share soon. Until then, -- K

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year

I had to work New Year's Day again this year. One of the perks to my job is that I can bring my dogs to work with me from time to time. Before the day got busy (and it did) I took Trooper down to the beach to watch the sunrise.

I got a new phone last week and thought this would be a good time to play with camera and new photo editing software. What do you think? I'm hoping that 2019 will bring lots of great photo opportunities for me to share with you. TTFN, -- K