Being at the bottom of the food chain, in regards to any respect afforded public servants, Animal Control Officers like myself often find themselves as the Butt of peoples jokes.
How many times have you heard the old line "I wouldn't vote for that guy if he was running for dogcatcher"...?
People tend to look down on us, and minimalize the skill it takes to do what we do. They also tend to overlook the very real dangers that we face on a DAILY basis. I'm not just talking about danger from the animals we have to handle, either. I'm talking about the very real danger that we face everyday when dealing with the public. I've had people threaten to assault me. I've had people threaten to kill me. I've worked with other ACO's who were physically assaulted.
Everyone acknowledges the dangers that Policemen face when doing their jobs. Obviously, when a Police Officer goes into a building to look for a burglar, or chases a bank robber, they are putting themselves in harms way. What most Cops will tell you, though, is that it isn't these obviously dangerous situations that pose the most risk to them during their daily duties.
Its the danger they face walking up to the window of the car they just pulled over for not stopping completely at the stop sign. It's the danger they face when walking into an ongoing argument within a family, or between neighbors. Those are the situations that put Police Officers at risk more often than any others.
Oddly enough, those are exactly the same risks that I face over and over throughout the day as I go about my job. Here's a news story to show my point. It's short, so I'll include it all:
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) —
Oklahoma City police are searching for a man who stabbed an animal control officer on the city's northeast side.Lt. Don Holland says the officer saw a man walking with a pit bull that was not on a leash about 3 p.m. Saturday and asked the man for identification.
Instead, Holland says the suspect pulled out a knife and stabbed the officer two times.Holland says the animal control officer was taken to an Oklahoma City hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Police are still searching for the suspect.
If it was a Police Officer that had been stabbed, I bet that the story would have garnered a lot more coverage. Instead, the absolutely only reference that I can find is the generic AP story above, which appears even on the local Oklahoma City news station websites. They wouldn't even commit their own reporters to look into the story.
This is the potential for violence that I deal with every day, on top of the occasional animal that wants to EAT ME.
Nobody sees that, though.