Why Animal Control? How about Animal Services, Animal Welfare or Animal Protection, etc.? We could still be the dog whipper or the dog collector? Between the 16th and 18th century the dog whipper was employed by churches in England to keep stray dogs away from church gatherings. The dog collector was part of the 1811 “Law Concerning Dogs” in Manhattan. That law was enacted to help “control” the spread of rabies.
The dog collector would collect a $3 tax from the dog owner in the city. Talk about the first dog license! In that time anyone could kill stray dogs outside of the lamp district or any dog suspected of biting someone. By the 1830s the bounty for stray dogs was $1. In 1836, 8000 dogs were slaughtered. At that time most of the dog killers were children and many in of the affluent population were concerned that the children would grow up to commit other crimes. Though it was open season on killing dogs the population of stray dogs continued to grow.
In 1866 Henry Bergh created the American Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. That began to change the fate of animals in America. You may be asking yourself; what does this have to do with the name, Animal Control? I have gone back and forth on this and even created a list with over 30 names that define our profession. Animal Control is the most common, recognized, understood and accepted name in our profession. The truth is no matter what we are called it comes down to how we interact with our community, that is how we’re remembered.
I found a love for this job in 2009, I became a volunteer at a local animal shelter. A longtime family friend encouraged me to become an animal control officer. I started to do ride alongs and immediately fell in love with the idea of helping animals and people. This job has a purpose! My first job was a seasonal position with a Humane Society. I was an Animal Control & Protection Officer. I was trained by a metalhead who seemed to hate people but like animals. He was and still is an awesome guy but carried himself in way that could rub the community the wrong way. Once you get past the beard and the New York accident you see that he has a big heart and loves the job. The problem is the community only gets to see that on a small scale. I can imagine anyone he has contact with respects him and has a better image of our profession. But if you saw him from afar you may make an assumption which would be incorrect.
The seasonal job came to an end and I joined a local department as an “Animal Control Officer”. The department was under the facilities section of the county. I met with the facilities manager on my first day who was wearing a flannel button up shirt with a red hat that someone contained his mullet. The first thing he said to me was; “so you’re gonna catch dogs for us”.
That was the moment I knew I wanted to help our profession gain the notoriety it deserves. I was floored that the manager of the department that housed animal control was that ignorant. I came into this profession enthusiastic, ambitious, eager and dedicated. I am happy to say that I am still here and promise to keep that energy moving forward.
I have made several sacrifices for this profession and if I was asked to do it all again, I would. I know there are many amazing officers that represent our profession and I am grateful for every single one of you! I am hopeful our paths cross someday so I can give you a hug, fist bump, handshake or just a head nod to thank you for your service. I am grateful for the National Care and Control Association for asking me to write this blog. I appreciate their hard work in helping our profession grow.
In 2019 I was asked to join a podcast called, The Humane Roundup as a guest. They wanted to have me on to talk about my involvement in the community. They saw my social media posts giving matchbox animal control trucks to kids and thought it was a cool outreach item. That was the second (technically third) episode of the podcast. I was invited as a guest and never left! The podcast has now spanned over four years and on January 1, 2023 we changed the name to the Animal Control Report to be more consistent with our listeners. But more importantly to champion the name, Animal Control.
The podcast is hosted by Ashlee Bishop (also a guest at one point) a Humane Officer in Wisconsin and myself. I am an Animal Control Supervisor in Colorado. We have over 158 episodes and have interviewed several amazing guests. Our podcast can be found on Apple Podcast, Spotify, our website (www.humanemain.com) or where ever you listen to podcasts.
Here is a list of my top 10 favorite episodes:
10. Episode 65. What’s in a Name – This episode discusses the different names in our profession and is fitting for this blog.
9. Episode 84. What You Know About Rolling Down in the D – We interview the Director of Detroit Animal Care & Control, Mark Kumpf.
8. Episode 66. We’re Not in Kansas Anymore – KC Pet Project joins the podcast to talk about their operations.
7. Episode 136 & 137. 40 Years in the Field – Lauren Malmberg talks about being in the field for 40 years. That took two episodes as you can imagine there are a lot of interesting things that happen after being in the field for 40 years.
6. Episode 118. City License Check Almost Turns Fatal – This is self-explanatory. Just an amazing episode with Halah Mir.
5. Episode 83. Carol F’n Baskin – Yep, Carol Baskin joins the show and talks about the Big Cat Rescue and more!!!!
4. Episode 79. Hunting Animal Fighters – The legendary David Hunt show to talk about dog fighting.
3. Episode 113. How to Become an Animal Control Officer – We discuss ways to break into the profession as our jobs don’t open that frequently.
2. Episode 87. Take a Bite – Dr. Ian Dunbar joins the show and talks all about bites, his bite scale and more.
Episode 149. The Misconception of PETA – Daphna Nachminovitch, the Senior VP of Cruelty Investigations blows us away with what happens behind the scenes of PETA. There are several parallels between Animal Control and PETA which you can hear on this episode.
These are my top 10 at the moment but the list is always changing. I encourage you to check out the podcast and please join us or send us a topic or guest you’d like to hear on the show. I am always available to help or just to chat with. Feel free to text or call me at 412-736-6263.
Keep it Humane Main! Daniel Ettinger