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IamA animal cop with 13,000 calls for service under my belt,AMA!

Oct 27th 2014 by youranimalcop • 30 Questions • 462 Points

My short bio:

I work for a large police department in the southern United States. I meet people everyday who need to be educated and re-educated on all things involving animals and their welfare. I have also found that people rarely understand their rights as American citizens, and are often taken advantage of by their local government (to which I greatly enjoy this type of re-education, much to my employer's chagrin). I have thanked more than one person for telling me to get off their property until I have a warrant, seriously.

I have found that creativity and humor have been my best assets in resolving issues and complaints on a regular basis. Creativity catches animals, humor deescalates potentially dangerous situations involving their owners. I am a realist when it comes to animals: save the ones we can, some should be killed.

My Proof:

http://youranimalcop.com

UPDATE: I'll check back to answer any remaining questions. Thanks Reddit!

Q:

How often do you have issues with people owning exotic pets and not caring for them properly? I watched a documentary called The Elephant in the Living Room, which was about exotic pet ownership in America. I can imagine people not caring for their pets can be very dangerous, especially when the pets in question happen to be dangerous for humans. Any good stories to share?

A:

We also had a man who raised what he thought was a doe from a baby. It was a buck and at one year old, it started to grow antlers. He let it loose but it's mind was not right, lets say. It stood on the front porch of a neighbor's house staring at them eating dinner through the glass front door. I impounded it and gave it to a deer rehab.


Q:

So, how does one impound a deer? Just slap a boot on there?

A:

I handle deer much differently than other officers. I routinely violate our SOP in regards to deer. If we tranquilize a deer, it must be impounded and euthanized. My goal is to release them back to wild if they are mobile. I figure nature gives them a better chance than us. In regards to that tame deer, I simply picked it up like one would a dog and put it in the vehicle, hoping it did not kick me...I still have a scar on my knee from getting kicked by one four years ago.

Normal deer that break through a window and into a home or business, I try to move to a smaller area. Bucks are easier to control because you can hold on to their antlers. Bucks are normally the ones that find themselves inside buildings...during rut, they are chasing the girls...Once I grab an antler, I spin the buck around so its facing me while gabbing the other antler. At this point, I lock my elbows and pull the deer to the closest exit. By pulling it, the deer instinctively pulls back and they are relatively easy to guide. Wild animals are still wild so there is no guarantee something unpredictable won't happen, but that's part of the fun, right? Sometimes we shut down traffic depending on where we are releasing it. I have never had a buck try to impale me with its antlers, not saying it won't happen, just hasn't yet. They do try and jump or stand on their rear legs but controlling their head is very effective, Once you get a grip, you don't want to let go.


Q:

You seem pretty efficient; usually they have to go through deer near-overdose and deer intervention before deer rehabilitation

A:

The recidivism rate is still pretty high though


Q:

Deer meth is a helluva drug

A:

Its not terribly often...once every 6 months or so. The most recent was a woman tried started a zoo in the city 15 years ago and her request was denied. We did not know but she kept four monkeys inside her home the entire time. She lived in a populated area too! We never knew until Fedex delivered a package and saw them in the garage each staring out a window at him. We impounded them but returned them to a location of her choosing outside the county. In our state, exotic animals are limited by county. Most counties don't have rules against it


Q:

Have you ever been on the Animal Cops shows on Animal Planet? My dad worked with Harris County SO in the Livestock Devision and made several appearances on Animal Cops Houston.

Also, do you mainly do cats and dogs, or is it horses and livestock too? In my father's case he only did "big" animals ie horses, cattle, pigs, chickens...he had to corral emus one time too. But all the domestic, household animals were taken in by the SPCA.

A:

I have not, our city does not participate with shows, so no COPS and no Animal Cops. We have thought about doing our own, in house documentary of sorts...Its still being decided who and what we tape and if we do, it would be us filming ourselves and probably more for training purposes.


Q:

I bet reddit could scrounge up a GoPro or two if you published the highlights on youtube. I mean, look what we did for a mall cop in a bad part of town!

Reddit loves animals and cops with body cams. Combine the two into crazy animal cop videos, and you would quickly have a dedicated and international audience, I'm sure of it.

The only downside (which really isn't a downside) is that you'd have to keep all footage for a while, as it would be evidence. But that can help you a great deal, especially when you find yourself in the unenviable position of having to get between insane animal people and their "babies".

A:

t would probably end up bypassing youtube and go straight to liveleak, and not in the fun way, lol


Q:

Do you ever get concerned about getting attached to the animals you help? Or in any case have you or your employees gotten attached to any of the animals?

A:

Honestly, I don't think about it too much...Early on, I put a memo on a young spaniel/retriever mix that i knew had no chance at adoption because of its temperament, I put a memo on the dog which stated that I would pick up the next day to foster it at my house. When I got to work the next day, it had already been euthanized. Government is less about common sense and more about policies. At the time, I did not fill out a 'foster' form for the animal. They have changed the policy since, but I was tainted on the process. We have a lot of officers that own animals that they have picked up.


Q:

I was a military police officer. How hard is it to be hired on as an animal cop? I have a wide range of experience with livestock, birds, snakes, rodents and fish.

A:

It's not too difficult. It depends on who employs you. Because we are within the police department, we need to pass a background check, polygraph, drug tests. High school diploma is all that we require. Smaller agencies probably require even less than that. There is normally decent turnover also because people find that the job is not as much getting licked by puppies as much as it is resolving disputes between people, so there are probably openings near you. Experience with animals is not all that necessary. It's more of an on-the-job type training scenario. I hated snakes when I started but I am comfortable handling them now.


Q:

Do you have any animals?

A:

No


Q:

So that gets me curious.

You seem to genuinely care about the welfare of the animals (breaking protocol to ensure that you don't have to put down a deer, etc.) yet you don't have any animals of your own.

What's up with that? Have you ever given that any thought?

A:

IDK, maybe I care for other people's animals enough that I feel that that part of me is satisfied.


Q:

Any particular species stand out as requiring your services more than others? (e.g. 30% of calls are pythons trying to eat small children)

A:

breakdown: 10% bites report, 10% aggressive animals in progress, 15% barking complaints, 20% Abuse reports, 20% stray animal, 10% Wild animal, 10% take your pick of possible neighbor complaints ,5% assist police


Q:

Have you ever had to deal with fish/aquaria?

A:

yea, I had a guy who committed suicide that had several hundred fish in tanks all around the house. I picked the dog up inside and had his family remove some of the fish the next day. The ones they did not want were signed over to the city and I imagine they were sold. Mostly exotic Japanese fish if I remember correctly. I think they loaded the tanks on a flatbed truck, I don't remember how they transported the fish, it was done on my day off.


Q:

Have you ever had to deal with fish/aquaria?

A:

He said they were pretty advanced but that does not mean much to me. He thought it was his birthday


Q:

Kidnapped, wandering, or repeatedly surrendered?

A:

Wandering. The owner's would let it run loose to use the bathroom and it would run away. I told them a neighbor told me they were going to shoot it the next time it ran on their property. Fictitious threats are cheaper than tickets...never went out there again.


Q:

Did you adopt them?

A:

Sorry, not to my home. I brought it the owner's address. It was funny because I pick up so many animals that I rarely recognize them. But when I pull up to the owner's address, I remember immediately. The dog had a microchip so it was easy to locate the owner.


Q:

What is the worst and best situations you've seen? Best recovery story, too? Thanks!

A:

There are a lot of both, hard to pick a most extreme. I received a call for a dead dog on a chain in someone's backyard. As I was searching the property, I found a truck with a pull behind trailer, something like a U-Haul, attached to it. The door was slightly open and the smell of death was strong in the August heat. I opened the door and found 29 dead dogs. Several puppies and multiple breeds and states of decay. The home was owned by someone out of state who stated that no one should have been living at the property, so we had no leads. No mail to address and neighbors in that area are not helpful.

Best is several feral (wild) puppies that were 4 months old that I captured that were living in the drain system under the city. They were completely un-socialized. After a month of working with them, we are able to adopt them out. That was my favorite 'success' story based on how much time I invested. I often bring in animals that are close to death that others foster and invest their time and then make incredible turn-arounds.


Q:

What is the worst and best situations you've seen? Best recovery story, too? Thanks!

A:

The call was placed anonymously, but I figured it was either a family member or ex-girlfriend. The caller stated that the man had instructions on his computer regarding how to have 'relations' with a dog. The caller described a lot of other strange facts. That was probably the weirdest call, partly because it was early in my career, I think things affect me less the longer I do it.


Q:

Hi there! Thanks for the AMA!

Have you ever dealt with chinchillas? I have two rescues and know they are really easy to mistreat just by lack of knowledge

A:

No i haven't. I have seen a few come in but they are rare. Neat critters


Q:

I've worked in dog rescue for several years, specializing in pit bulls and puppy mill situations. Shows like the Dog Whisperer, Pit Boss, and Pit Bulls and Parolees has done a lot to educate the public about ownership responsibility, BSL, and breed profiling, but what do you think should be done to cut down on backyard breeders, puppy mills, and the like? Obviously as long as people are silly enough to fork over $400 for a "designer" breed, there will be people churning them out. Does your city have any kind of spay/neuter requirements?

A:

We dont have any special requirements. The problem with some of the shows are now people think they know how to fix every aggressive dog by socializing it...oops it just attacked a dog at the dog park. I digress.

Puppy mills work solely off supply and demand. Between our office and the humane society offering cheap, vaccinated, healthy dogs, we are enough to meet the demand for most of the city. Puppy mills is a loose definition but I assume you mean people selling as many puppies as they can...this normally creates unhealthy dogs, either through line breeding or physical living environments. People don't like paying $400+ for sick pups. They normally put themselves out of business. The occasional breeder normally does not rise to the attention of animal control.


Q:

Do you find your belt wearing out often due to the huge strain it must have holding such a vast amount of calls? Leather or nylon webbing?

A:

The trick is in having extra long legs


Q:

How do the animals get a hold of you in the first place? And how high is the criminal rate among young black alpacas?

A:

The best way is by commenting on my IAmA. Depends, neutered black alpacas have a really low crime rate.


Q:

what was the saddest incident you've come across?

A:

See below


Q:

My neighbors on both sides have dogs that are loudly barking from noon to four in the morning every single day. Anything I can do about it?


Q:

[deleted]

A:

Taking a break, I'll answer back in a few hours. Thanks y'all


Q:

In your opinon, based off what you have seen in the field of people caring for animals, what is the best breed of cat or dog for a college student? Factors such as limited time to train, a great destressers, easy to entertain, less money used in grooming or things like that. Also I seen that you vare really involved in this post thank you very much for your time!

A:

Go to a friend's house and de-stress by petting their dog or cat. College has its own responsibilities, adding a pet to the mix is likely to increase stress, not decrease...I pick up a lot of unwanted animals from eager college students that want to 'rescue' an animal but don't realize that that is a roughly 10-14 year commitment. But since you asked, cats are much more independent than dogs, so they require less of your active attention. I honestly don't know much about the difference between cat breed (stray cats don't come with paperwork), perhaps someone more informed can answer that for you. Small breed dogs would be better in a small environment. It's hard to say any one breed is better.


Q:

What kind of animal are you and how does it help in apprehending the crims? Also, have you seen The Animal with Rob Schneider, and if yes how accurate a portrayal of your life is it?

A:

Close to spot on


Q:

What species of Animal/Cop hybrid are you?

A:

I did seize 88 chickens/roosters in a Vietnamese cock fighting sting.


Q:

Where does one put 88 chickens/roosters?

A:

They each had their own carrying cases on the property we seized them, many of the cases were leather and quite ornate. We euthanized the roosters because they were bred to fight and could not be placed in general population. The most of the hens had parasites which we treated and we held them until a judge decided we could either adopt them out(we use the term adopt out for livestock but it just means sell) or euthanize them if their medical condition was severe.


Q:

Do you carry a gun whilst you are on duty?

A:

no, I am not a sworn officer. Another reason why I rely on my ability to de-escalate situations. I don't have a partner and I work fourth shift (until 4am). https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTpt7GpL5vT02KAt4r2hEjeE7xC8PByJV6-ob7OPKQD7L4oSFC3


Q:

Haha, I'm surprised you answered this. Thanks!

...Did you eat the roosters?

A:

No, we euthanize with drugs so you couldn't eat them. Plus, it would just be weird, if not unethical, if not illegal. The bodies are then incinerated.