David Brown, animal control officer with the city of Katy, has worked with the city for 27 years. The city of Katy Animal Control works with the Katy police enforcing city and state laws, keeping lost pets in a 3,000-square-foot temperature controlled building. The department only deals with lost pets and animal cases within in the incorporated city limits. Brown, 53, began his career in Katy as a 911 dispatcher.
Tell me a little bit about how animal control works with the police department to help the city with lost pets and other animal concerns.
We’re actually employed with the police department. We’re a division of the Katy police so when we’re not on duty and actually patrolling, the officers patrol. The city of Katy has its own chapter, which is chapter two in the code of city ordinances dedicated specifically for animal more control and the enforcement of the local law, the police department and we enforce that. That’s what our job is to enforce those laws and regulations, state and local.
But you’re not police officers, correct?
No, but we do issue citations from municipal court. Our citations are the same, they are class C misdemeanors, but we don’t stop traffic. We don’t make arrests. We contain animals and if we need assistance, the police are always there on patrol to help us. We work for the police department; we’re just a different division of the police department like dispatch and the records division. Chief (William) Hastings is my boss and Assistant Chief (Tim) Tyler is my boss and we work as a chain of command of police.
How many people work in your department?
I have two full-time animal control officers and one part-time position. My part-time officer resigned for a full-time position some place else, so that’s why the patrol officers have to help us out. We work a lot of hours. We work Monday through Friday, 8 to 5 but we’re on call and we work the weekends, so with two employees that have been with the city for a long time, we’ve accrued a lot of vacation and a lot of time off. It would be impossible for us to do our job without the officers helping. I’ve been with the city — I’m on my 27th year, so I have a lot of vacation time now. Spencer’s been with me for six years and he’s got a lot of vacation now, but we work it out and when we have to take off we don’t take off at the same time. Officers are there to help us, and fortunately we have a part-time employee and of course none of us can leave town at the same time. One of us has to be available all the time, but we do it, we maintain it and that’s because our laws are so strict with the city of Katy. That ordinance helps us and we have to change the ordinance from time to time to be up to date but we enforce the ordinances. Our mayor, our city council and our city administrator are just so fantastic and so helpful with animal control. We will eventually get more animal control officers, as we do need more officers. The city is growing and as the city grows, the fire department and the police need more personnel do too, so we just have to wait our turn. And we do. We just do our job the best we can, and it seems to be working. Working for the police, we have access to the police database and another advantage is that we have access to the city records. We couldn’t do it by ourselves. If it wasn’t for the city employees helping us out — and it’s not just police, everybody gives us a helping hand. All we have to do is ask and the city pulls together and that’s one things the city of Katy has always done, just pulled together.
Let’s talk how the facility came to be and how it’s grown over the years.
Well, we’ve really grown since we were flooded during Hurricane Harvey and it was devastating. Now we did an emergency release. If you were to come to see the shelter you would see that it’s at the sewer plant complex. The location has been there for a long time. But the facility is only 15 years old. During Harvey we had 14 inches of water come into the building. We didn’t lose any animals; we did an emergency release. We prepared ourselves, but we never prepared for such an amount of water. We never had that happen before. And of course the insulation sucked up the water and the file cabinets, all the files and everything… so thanks to the city and insurance and FEMA—they came in and started redoing the entire shelter, we were able to take advantage of that and we pulled out the floors, we added walls where we needed them, we raised ceilings… and we planned for the future. We rewired the building with extra power outlets and then we rewired the whole building for fiber optics. We got a washer and dryer in there. We got a separate room for the cats to be housed so the barking dogs couldn’t bother them. The original building didn’t have that. We had one desk and few chairs and now we have an expanded office where we have our own desks now and we have desks for the future people. We’ve really moved forward and that’s all you can do with the city moving forward like us. You have to plan the best you can and go with what we have.
Shelters oftentimes are left with tough decisions, dealing with a community that may not have spayed or neutered their pet and rescues who cannot afford to take every single animal. It’s a balancing act. How do you deal with it?
You can’t save the world. I tried when I first started in animal control and just got to the point where… The one sad thing about the no-kill shelters is if they do not euthanize absolutely anything, they do not have no room for anything to come in until something else goes out. There are some animals that sometimes euthanasia is better. It’s better than starving. It’s better than disease and hurting and when I teach the classes of students, I let everyone know that all animals can feel pain. One thing we don’t want anything to do is hurt and suffer, so we have to we do it as peaceful as possible. It’s just part of the job. It has to be done, and unfortunately, it’s the larger older dogs that are the ones no one wants. No one wants a really older dog, or a larger dog and some are just down right non-adoptable. They’ve just been out too long and they’re just too dangerous to put kids or anyone else around and cats too. Cats can be quite vicious as well.
Does it ever get easier?
I think it gets easier with the city giving us what we need. When we need the equipment, the city gives whatever we need within reason. We have all the modern catch falls. Burnout on animal control officers… usually most of them don’t last, according to the academy, most of them don’t last 10 years or so. Let’s just say they get too burned out and just can’t handle it. But with the way we do it, it’s so rewarding to see a pup go back home. It’s so rewarding knowing that they are going to have a new home. Every job has its bad stuff and it hurts when we have to do it. We try every option before we go to that final disposition.
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