Think your job is tough?

I walked outside a few minutes ago to check the mail, just in time to see an Animal Control truck pull up to a house directly across the street. The driver, a slightly-built blond female, jumped out of the truck, carrying a noose-on-a-stick, and made a beeline (dogline? canineline?) for what appeared to be a youngish pit bull crossbreed, chocolate brown with some ugly long scars across its right side. No collar or tags…dead meat, in other words.

The dog made the AC truck immediately. Could have been the smell of panic-striken dogs and dead cats…a easy call for an obviously street-smart canine. In an instant, he (or she…hmmm…I didn’t notice…just assumed…) was past the officer like a K-State running back through this year ‘s Nebraska d-line and was gone around the corner in the blink of an eye. They really need to teach those AC officers the theory of getting the proper angle on the ball carrier…um…fleeing dog. The officer ran back to the truck, yelling something into her shoulder-mounted 2-way (just like on COPS!), squealed a u-turn and was off after the offender. I don’t know if she ever noticed me.

I’m what you call a “dog person.” I can anthropomorphize with the best of ’em, when it comes to man’s best friend. The scene I witnessed was not something I enjoyed, as there was no imaginable happy ending. The dog gets caught; it’s too ugly/aggressive/demanding/alive and no one will claim it…in a few short days it will be put down. Or, the dog escapes, to…to what? Hunger, fighting, more scenes like today? It’s not something I want to dwell on.

What I wonder, however, is what it’s like to have a job like that. One where you have to drive insanely through a quiet neighborhood, dive out of a truck in a clumsy attempt to capture a dog – a DOG! – that is obviously quicker, stronger and more desperate than you’ll ever be.

You know in advance that you won’t succeed, and that you’ve probably got an audience…if not on the sidewalk, surely peering through curtains…and, worst of all, that you’re viewed as The Dogcatcher, enemy of all that is good and kind in the world. But here’s what I think, or at least what I hope: only someone who loves animals works in Animal Control. I’m willing to give the blond lady the benefit of the doubt; she’s just doing the dirty work required to clean up the mess left behind by an uncaring and/or irresponsible owner. It’s not the dog’s fault and it’s not her fault. We can root for the dog, but if we really care about animals, we’ll root for the officer.

I don’t know about you, but that’s hard for me to admit.