Green River Star -

By Olivia Kennah
Staff Writer 

GR animal control aims to educate

 


The Green River Animal Control Shelter has several roles in the community, but their ultimate goal in every situation is to care for the animals.

They are part of the police department and all calls dealing with animal situations go to them. They patrol for animals, capture both wildlife and domestic animals and issue citations and warnings to animal owners violating laws and regulations. Animal control are law enforcement officers, but there is another side to animal control that some people tend to overlook.

Animal control’s primary role is to educate the community on how to responsibly care for animals.

“We are 80 percent education and 20 percent law enforcement,” Animal Control Supervisor Tracy Wyant said. “People need to understand that owning a pet is a lifelong commitment.”

The officers have a lot of different ways of educating individuals. They have mommy day groups come into the shelter to teach young kids how to take care of animals, and to teach them that animals are not disposable. They talk to daycares as well. Officer Kim Wilkins goes into schools often to teach kids how to be responsible pet owners.

The shelter also has a program called Caught Ya, which rewards young responsible pet owners. If an officer drives by a child while they are walking their pet, or giving it a bath or playing with it, they will stop to take a picture of the kid with their pet and enter them into a drawing. Each month, they pull out a name and the chosen kid will get a prize from the City of Green River, animal control and Joe’s Pet Depot.

The center will also educate older residents on anything from bats and rabies to animal cruelty to the career of an animal control officer.

The ultimate goal for the shelter is to adopt out as many pets as possible, and they will hold the animals as long as it takes to be adopted. They do not want to euthanize pets, but in some cases there are no alternatives. As the letter addressed to the residents reads, “I am your animal control officer. I am not the dreaded ‘dog catcher’, the ‘murderer’, you call me. I am a product of your own irresponsibility.”

The officers are animal lovers, which is why they try to educate everyone on how to be responsible pet owners.

“If everyone controlled their pets, there wouldn’t be a need for animal control,” shelter volunteer Bob Gordon said.

“We would like to end the stereotype of being the dog catcher or the dog pound. We are a shelter for all animals,” Wyant said. “We will hold all pets as long as they are adoptable.”

The center has held all types of animals including domestic rabbits, iguanas and ferrets to name a few. Also, if an adoptable animal is not being adopted, they will trade it with other facilities to expose it to different people.

“Sometimes a change of venue makes all the difference in an adoption,” Wyant said.

The center would like to stress if someone is missing a pet or someone has found a pet, the animal control center is always the first place you should call. Often times someone will be looking for a pet and they won’t think to check the center because they are not aware that they are a shelter. There is a five day holding period before the animal becomes property of the city and is open for adoption.

The shelter has several success stories for animals who were suffering from injuries. There was a dog who had been kicked in the head and needed surgery to remove an eye. The Castle Rock Veterinary Center opened an account for donations to pay for the surgery, and in just two days they had raised over $400, which covered the costs.

“We had to stop people from donating because enough money had been raised and people wanted to keep donating,” Wilkins said.

There was also a time when a dog needed an eye removed and the animal control staff paid for the surgery out of their own pockets. Both dogs were adopted to very loving families.

“The staff also pays for quite a few groomings,” Wilkins said. The local veterinarian also discounted the price for the surgery. Both veterinary offices are very helpful and accommodating as well as the local groomers.

The shelter has a few very loyal volunteers who are a great asset to the center. Ann Farris, Crystal Ruiz and Molly Veal come in almost every day to help out. Pancho Gardea comes in quite often as well. They play with the animals, take them on walks and give them loving attention. Bob Gordon comes in daily to give care and attention to the cats. He buys canned cat food and brings it in for the cats. Just the other day they had a sick cat and Gordon bought the antibiotics for it. Now the cat is an adoptable pet.

“They thrive on attention and socialization,” Gordon said. When the animals are happy and energetic, they become more adoptable, so the volunteers are very beneficial to the shelter. Plus, they know and respect the rules and can also report how well the animals do on walks and during play.

Right now there is a cat named Ginny who is being adopted by someone in Pennsylvania. The person wanted a declawed, female, orange tabby and the Green River shelter happened to have one. She will be driven to Salt Lake City where she will be put on a plane to Pennsylvania. Gordon is calling it Ginny’s Most Excellent Adventure.

“She’ll be better traveled than I will be,” he said. The person adopting Ginny found her on Pet Finder, which is frequently updated at the animal control office.

The animal control officers aim to educate people, not punish, and as the letter says, “I am the product of your irresponsibility. Do not scorn me. Respect me, for I am a professional and I care.”

“They are not just the dog catcher, they are so much more than that,” Gordon said.

 

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