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Blog: Shirley Zindler
A Sacred Trust
Animal control officers are often among the first on the scene when a death at home leaves a pet behind
The old man’s eyes were closed, his head rested on a pillow and covers were tucked up to his chest. Even the wispy white hair on his head looked unruffled. His arms were wrapped around his little blond Chihuahua, who gazed at me quietly. For a Chihuahua to fail to bark when a stranger enters the room is a miracle in itself. It couldn’t have been a more peaceful scene although the man was dead....
Blog: Shirley Zindler
Barking Up the Wrong Tree
Mistaken identity, surprising requests and strange dilemmas
Animal control officers see a lot of difficult, upsetting things. Thankfully, there are the strange requests, amusing calls and fun rescues to balance the heavy stuff. People are often confused about what we do. I can’t make your roommate clean his cat litter box more often and I can’t force your cousin to put a coat on his Golden Retriever when they walk in the rain. I can’t make your husband...
Blog: Shirley Zindler
Discovering the Great in a Forlorn Dane
Meet Tyra, rescued dog turned rescuer
On what would be a fateful afternoon more than a year ago, a fellow animal control officer received a call for a stray dog in traffic. When he arrived, he found a scrawny, half-grown Great Dane puppy running in terror from everyone who approached. When he finally cornered her, she fought wildly and tried to bite but he was able to get her into his truck. At the shelter, the dog shrank in fear...
Blog: Shirley Zindler
A Close Call
Rescuing a dog caught in the crossfire
The cheerful beat of my cell phone yanks me out of a sound sleep. I glance groggily at the clock: 12:32 a.m. I’m on call for animal control emergencies. The sheriff’s dispatcher advises me that deputies are requesting my presence at a rural address. I dress in a hurry, yank my hair into a ponytail and drive through the dark to the scene. The road is blocked by deputies but they wave me through....
Blog: Shirley Zindler
Finding a Purpose for a Pup
Turning a bad situation into something positive
An early morning call came in from a passerby who reported seeing a dog attacking sheep near a quiet country road. It was a gorgeous day, and I enjoyed the drive in spite of my anxiety to get there as soon as possible. I pulled up in front of a neat little white farmhouse surrounded by green fields. It was quiet; no one seemed to be home. The sound of a dog barking and the frantic bleating of...
Blog: Shirley Zindler
Hoarding
You never get used to a hoarder’s house
The stench of garbage, urine and feces hit me as I entered the home. Sunlight slanted through a broken window and illuminated the clutter and sparkles of dust in the air. Cats and small dogs bolted in every direction, frantic to hide from the stranger in their midst. The place was littered with empty pet food cans, old magazines, clothes, dishes and boxes. Ammonia stung my eyes and throat as I...
Blog: Shirley Zindler
A Day in the Life of an Animal Control Officer
I wake early to care for my latest litter of 6-week-old foster pups. I almost always have fosters at home: Moms with pups, orphaned or sick dogs, or dogs needing training or socializing. These are adorable scruffy Terrier mixes and they scramble over me in delight as I hurry to feed and clean up after them. Each one also gets picked up for a cuddle before I head out the door. I arrive at the...
Blog: Shirley Zindler
Puppy Breath
The perfect antidote for a tough day
Warm sunshine bathes my skin, soft fur tickles my cheek and the rich, intoxicating scent of puppy breath fills my nostrils. There must be no greater bliss than lying outside on a blanket full of sweet, wiggly puppies. I close my eyes as they lick my face and gnaw my fingers. It’s been a rough week and I feel the stress ebbing away as I cuddle the warm bodies. As an animal control officer, I...

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