Clinton Animal Control Officer Kristi Shaw loves animals.
Kristi has been the Clinton animal control officer for 15 years. Before getting the job she also worked at the petting zoo in Eagle Point Park and the Clinton Humane Society. She said she feels a person has to like animals to do this job for any length of time.
When the previous animal control officer became ill, the city asked people from the humane society to assist with animal control. Kristi helped in that position then applied for the animal control job when it was posted six months later.
Kristi typically works from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. By 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, she had already responded to a couple calls and was back on the street, patrolling the city.
Kristi’s van has several cages and various equipment. She has had as many as eight dogs in the van before, but said it was pretty full. During the 15 years she has had three vehicles total. The first two were trucks that did not hold many animals. A variety of cages can be seen in the side of the van she now drives. In the back sits a large cage that can be separated into two cages with a divider. The van has lights, air conditioning and heat for the animals. Various pieces of equipment are available to Kristi, including an animal stretcher and a ramp for dogs to walk up into the van.
Before 11 a.m., Kristi heads back out on patrol, stopping at the city gas pumps. The city has been getting reports of animals chewing on the lines in the lot. Kristi guessed it is probably mice or rats. At the city’s request, she has placed an animal trap. A Clinton resident has to go to the Humane Society and put down a deposit for a trap and set it themselves. She would then come and get the trap once the animal was caught. However, since it is a city complaint, Kristi sets the trap with canned cat food. She said she can only leave it for 24 hours before the food has to be changed.
Kristi drives by the lot and checks on the trap. Seeing no animal inside, she continues on her patrol of the city. She makes a quick stop at the house of a person who had reported a dog bite the day before to fill out the report. However, no one answers the door.
Kristi patrols the entire city of Clinton. She said her path on her patrol varies by the day. She drives through Eagle Point Park and by the Ericksen Center on the lookout for people walking their dogs without a leash on. She said normally she would get out of the van and advise them that they need a leash. She does not find many people out with their pets and animals. Kristi continues on her patrol, looking for an animal running at large or an animal that seems overheated.
Lately, most of Kristi’s calls have been for dogs or cats. However, she has dealt with a variety of other animals. She has picked up iguanas, wild birds, snakes, bats, a pot-belly pig and other animals. She has responded to calls of raccoons falling through ceilings and turkeys flying into homes. Years ago, she had a report of a deer jumping through a window in the JC Penney building and running through the aisles, messing with clothing.
“If it has to do with an animal, I’ve dealt with it,” said Kristi.
At 12:25 p.m. a report comes in of two children walking two dogs on Riverview Drive.
The dogs appear to be overheated and there is no water visible on the children. Kristi said sometimes young children do not understand that dogs can be adversely affected by the heat. She heads to the location, but the children appear to have left the area.
Kristi said it is not uncommon for people to have moved from an area by the time she gets across town to where they were reported. She drives around the nearby campground, the boat ramp and the marina. She then drives north along the railroad tracks. Eventually she calls the law center and reports she was unable to locate them. Kristi said she hopes the children took the dogs home for some water.
Just a couple minutes later, a report comes in for a tan-yellow Labrador puppy running at large in the 1500 block of 25th Avenue South. She is familiar with the area and the dog since she received a complaint the day before about the dog barking. If she is unable to determine the dog’s home or unable to locate the owners, she would have to take him to the Clinton Humane Society.
When she gets to the house, the dog is running loose in the front yard. Kristi said this is not safe for the dog due to threats from the hot weather or oncoming traffic.
She locates the dog’s cage in the back and sees a hole where he probably escaped. After the dog runs around, Kristi and a neighbor corner the dog on the porch. Kristi attaches her leash to the dog and whispers words of comfort to the dog while the neighbor attempts to reach the owner.
They are unable to reach the owner, but the neighbor is able to open the side door and the two of them get the dog inside.
Kristi said she usually does not like to put a dog in an unattended house, but said it is better than leaving it outside or taking it to the humane society. Once the dog is inside the home, Kristi gets back into her van and heads back to the station.