County’s Animal Control officers wear many hats

Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 2:08 PM

By Alexandria Jun

La Plata County Humane Society

I was asked to write an article educating the public about what Animal Protection does, but as I began to articulate the day-to-day responsibilities of a “dog catcher,” I found myself unable to put it into words.

Actually, I found myself recalling a time where I stood behind the Humane Society, covered in the blood of a dog that had just been fatally wounded. I remember being scared to touch anything because there was just so much blood.

I remember it like it was yesterday, just like every horrible thing I’ve seen on this job. Yes, we do a lot of mundane, unexciting things that would bore you to tears, but unfortunately, the “exciting” stuff may not be appropriate for public viewing.

We are mediators, enforcers, Certified Equine Investigators, animal-crime detectives, barking dog connoisseurs, canine taxi services, first responders, peace officers, cat whisperers and snake charmers.

We’re vaccinated against rabies, which makes us the perfect candidates for getting skunked.

We respond to fatal car accidents, DUI’s, suicides, fires, traffic stops or any incident where an animal is left behind.

We’re the first on scene when your animal has been hit by a car, and we’re there with your four-legged companion as it takes its final breath. We’re the guys who run in front of traffic to save your pup from getting T-boned.

Yes, we take your fur-child to the shelter when it’s unaccompanied, but trust me, getting a call that Lassie is safe in doggy-jail is much better than the alternative.

We respond to vicious dog calls, finding that “Cujo” isn’t just a dramatized movie.

We assist law enforcement on a lot of the same calls, but we do so unarmed. Every call we respond to has the potential of creating enemies, and I can only hope that my trusty bite-stick will protect me from a bullet, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take while advocating for the welfare of the animals here in La Plata County.

We do not pretend as though we deserve to stand up alongside Durango’s finest heroes, but we are the voices of the innocent critters in this town, and we’re proud of the hats we wear.

Wanna try a hat on? Come on a ride-a-long!

Alexandria Jun is an Animal Protection officer.