Animal Control from a New Angle

posted July 15th, 2012 by
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by Bob Foshay 

I have been photographing animals at the Tulsa Animal Shelter for TulsaPets Magazine for about two years with the specific goal of helping to increase adoptions. As time went on, I wondered about these animals that came to the shelter. I wanted to see the other side of the stray animal issue, so I asked and was allowed to spend the day on patrol with an Animal Control Officer.


After all, I had only seen a small part of the job the shelter and its officers are faced with every day, and it certainly is not the old dog pound and dog catcher. These people are dedicated and committed to ensuring that the animals are cared for in a humanitarian manner with the resources, the law, politics and public opinion all being what it is.


Our day started at 9 a.m. The first call came in from dispatch to Officer Susan Stoker to pick up a stray cat at a woman’s house. It had wandered into her back yard and appeared to be ill. When we arrived, the homeowner directed us to her back yard where we found the cat lying lethargically on the patio. Officer Stoker carried the cat back to the truck, and we headed back to the shelter. With a little food and care, the cat appeared to be fine. It was checked for identification; if none is found (i.e. tags, ID, implant, etc.), it is placed in holding for three days to see if the owner comes to claim it. If no owner shows up, it goes to adoption.


The next call, which came almost immediately after we arrived back at the shelter, involved a dog hit by a car, and the dog was still trapped under the car. Back to the truck we headed for the emergency call. When we arrived on the scene, we found the woman who had hit the dog stopped and could not see the dog. She moved her car into a nearby Walgreens’ parking lot where a passerby told her the dog was trapped under her car. The woman jumped out of the car, finding the dog was trapped in the undercarriage of the vehicle.


   Stoker crawled under the car and found the dog was actually impaled on a long bolt. With expert confidence, she removed the dog from the bolt, brought her safely out to the patrol truck, and we hurried back to the shelter. Upon arriving at the shelter, the dog was immediately taken into the care of a vet and treated for a large puncture wound on her left side and abrasions on her legs. We stayed with the dog for about 15 minutes while she was being treated. The dog was very gentle and amazingly calm considering the trauma she had just endured.


Today, that dog has been fostered and fully recovered, thanks to the immediate care of Officer Stoker and the shelter staff. More than likely the dog had strayed from home; she had a flea collar on but did not have identification; due to that fact, the owner may never be located.


The rest of the day was more mundane; four calls dealt with complaints ranging from barking dogs to a neighbor keeping chickens in the back yard. These types of calls involved leaving door hangers describing the complaint since the people were not home.

   Wrapping up the day was a call to a dog biting, or, I should say, a dog nipping. A landlord was at the door of his rented property when the tenants were not home, and a stray dog the tenant’s children had befriended nipped the landlord on his leg and ran off. When we arrived two other Animal Control patrol trucks were already on the scene chasing and tracking the dog. The dog ultimately escaped, and we returned to the shelter for the day.


I learned from the day’s events that homeless pet issues come from more than spaying and neutering—although this is still a big factor. The problems are very complex and multi-faceted:

  • Overpopulation and feral animals
  • Due to age or financial reasons, some people can no longer care for their pets
  • Abused animals (fighting dogs, abandoned pets, chaining animals in bad conditions, beating, not feeding and many other conditions)
  • Nuisance issues (owners letting pets run loose, barking, etc.)
  • Unidentified pets that have strayed from home because of the failure of fencing, door latching or the owner just dumps an unwanted pet)


Of course, I don’t have the answers to these issues, but I can say spaying and neutering is important, along with staying current on vaccinations, proper tagging, and educating about the responsibilities of pet ownership and pet training. These issues need more research, study, and ultimately, solutions—because no matter how good the shelters are, they are not the best place for pets. Good forever homes are still the best place

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