Only a week away from a holiday notorious for causing dogs to flee their homes, Ardmore is experiencing an absence of animal control officers.
Ardmore Police Department Captain Keith Ingle said the department’s two animal control officers are off-duty, one temporarily due to a non-work-related injury and the other permanently in relation to an incident in which a child was tased.
The incident was being investigated internally after a May 29 medical call in which the animal control officer allegedly “accidentally discharged his taser and struck his nine year-old child,” Ingle said in a previous interview. No other information on the incident could be given at this time.
Ingle said a supervisor has been filling in for animal control staff in the meantime. However, there have not been many calls concerning stray animals yet, he said.
Ardmore Animal Care, Inc. executive director Kasey Renteria said the shelter hasn’t seen a noticeable difference yet either, but she expects that will change during the 4th of July week.
“I really expected to get tons of calls and complaints with animal control being off for as long as they’re going to be gone, but I have not yet, which is shocking,” Renteria said. “I expect that will probably change within the next week.”
The shelter typically sees a rise in the number of animals on the streets during the week of the 4th, Renteria said, just as with storm systems that produce loud noises.
“We take in a lot that obviously have owners, have collars, are well taken care of, but here they are,” Renteria said. “And you just hope that the owner’s going to come look for them.”
Other issues Renteria said she is anticipating are difficulty in catching strays that are aggressive and a lack of response to animals that have been injured or killed by vehicles, among other things.
Ingle said the department is currently seeking to hire two more animal control officers. And for pet owners hoping to keep their animals safe over the week, Renteria said individuals should have a plan in place prior to the launch of fireworks.
“You don’t want to wait until these fireworks have started to get your pet calm. You definitely need to prepare ahead of time,” Renteria said. “Some dogs are okay loose in the house, but others will need to be crated.”
Renteria said she suggests leaving a TV or radio on, as well as shutting the blinds and windows, to prevent pet anxiety. Additionally, it is beneficial to feed one’s pet before hand and make sure they have plenty of water to alleviate panting in response to stress, she said.
Renteria also warned against self-medicating one’s pets.