Animal Care and Control Appreciation Week is April 10 through 16—the perfect time to show your appreciation to the hard-working Animal Control Officers. These officers risk their lives and devote their time and energy to provide many vital community services, so our team at Town and Country Animal Hospital wants to suggest ways you can show your appreciation to animal control officers.
#1: Spay and neuter your pets
Approximately 63 million pets enter U.S. pet shelters each year, and approximately 920,000 pets are euthanized each year because they cannot be placed in homes. Animal control officers are responsible for finding these stray pets, and placing them in shelters where they are given food, shelter, and any necessary veterinary care. Spaying and neutering your pets ensures their puppies and kittens don’t contribute to the pet homelessness crisis, and reduces the stress for animal control officers to take care of these unwanted pets.
#2: Microchip your pet
When an animal control officer picks up a stray pet, they attempt to find where the pet lives, and return them home, if possible. If the pet doesn’t have identification tags, they will scan them for a microchip. Microchipping your pet provides permanent identification that can’t be lost or removed, and greatly increases your pet’s chances of being reunited with you if they are lost. Without proper identification, your pet is placed in a shelter, taking up much-needed space that could house other pets who have no loving home.
#3: Never leave your pet unattended in a parked vehicle
Hundreds of pets die every year from heat exhaustion after their owner leaves them in a parked car. Temperatures inside a vehicle rise extremely quickly, and cracking the window does not mitigate the heat’s effect on your pet. Animal control officers respond to calls when a pet is left inside a vehicle, and these situations can be incredibly upsetting, because the pet’s life is in danger, or their heatstroke may have been fatal. If your destination doesn’t allow pets, ensure you leave your pet at home in air-conditioned comfort.
#4: Keep your pet’s vaccinations up to date
One of the most dangerous aspects of an animal control officer’s job is capturing aggressive pets and animals. By keeping your pet’s vaccination status up to date, you are ensuring that the officers are protected from rabies, a deadly viral disease that can be passed from pets to humans. Pet rabies vaccinations are state law, so this simple action ensures you remain a law-abiding citizen, and prevents an animal control officer from needing to enforce the law.
#5: Report pet and animal abuse
Animal control officers are staunch advocates of all animals, and they investigate pet and animal abuse cases, to ensure the people responsible are held accountable, and to ensure affected pets and animals are rescued. They act as expert witnesses at court cases to support animal rights. If you recognize animal abuse, report the situation as soon as possible. Signs that may indicate animal abuse include:
- Insufficient food or water — If a pet or domestic animal is not provided with adequate food or water, you should report the situation. You should also report a pet or animal who is extremely thin or lethargic, or whose behavior has changed (i.e., they suddenly become aggressive) because of extreme thirst, starvation, or pain.
- Insufficient shelter — All pets and domestic animals kept outdoors should have adequate shelter during inclement, extremely hot, humid, or cold weather.
- Abandonment — If you notice that a pet or domestic animal has been left behind after the occupants moved away, you should report the situation.
- Animal hoarding — Also, you should report anyone whom you see has an excessive number of pets or domestic animals living on their property. Approximately 250,000 animals are hoarded every year, and their conditions are usually extremely unhealthy.
- Violence — If you witness a person physically abusing an animal, report the incident as soon as possible.
#6: Report dog fighting
Dog fighting is a particular type of animal abuse that is often associated with other criminal activities, such as gambling and drug possession. Animal control officers are responsible for breaking up dog fighting rings, since fighting dogs are typically kept in deplorable conditions, and often are forced to spend their life in cages, or on short, heavy chains. In addition, they often sustain severe trauma that can involve deep puncture wounds, lacerations, crushing injuries, and broken bones that are left untreated. Evidence of dog fighting should be reported immediately. Signs include:
- Multiple wounds — Fighting dogs may have multiple wounds or scars, including torn lips or ears.
- Chains — People who keep dogs to fight typically keep the dogs on heavy chains, and they may keep several dogs in one small area.
- Caged — In some cases, the dogs are kept in small pens with barely enough room to stand or turn around.
- Secluded areas — The dogs may intentionally be kept in areas not easily accessed by the public.
#7: Donate to your local pet shelter
Pet shelters can always use donations in the form of money, pet supplies, or your time and energy. Particularly useful items include unopened pet food, litter, puppy pads, cleaning supplies, leashes and collars, old towels and blankets, and pet toys.
Animal control officers deserve our appreciation, and we hope you will express your gratitude during Animal Care and Control Appreciation week. If you would like to show your appreciation by spaying, neutering, or microchipping your pet, contact our team at Town and Country Animal Hospital to schedule an appointment.