I was divorced from my first wife in the mid-70's.
I was a bad boy, and I got caught.
Although I succumbed to temptation, I still loved my wife.
I didn't want to be divorced.
I can tell you, getting a divorce really takes the wind out of your sails!
I found myself with few friends in a small town.
I was working in an outside sales job that I hated.
I was too bummed to socialize.
What I wanted to do most was sleep.
So I'd stay up until 3 A.M. watching TV, and would finally nod off.
But at 6 or 7 A.M., I would wake up looking at another miserable day to spend alone.
A little wine to relax me, right?
For about a month, I resorted to drinking a bottle of wine every evening. Surprisingly, it didn't help me sleep at all. At some point I realized that if I kept drinking a bottle of wine per night, I'd have to admit to myself that I had a serious problem with alcohol.
Being divorced was more problem than I could handle already. I didn't need another problem to contend with.
In addition to the hated sales job, I was flying with my Reserve Unit. At this point, it was the only thing in life I enjoyed.......the only thing I had that gave me direction.
A friend I sometimes flew with was the Chief Executive of a County near my Reserve outfit.
He took one look at my exhausted face and said, "What in the heck is wrong with you?"
When I explained that my life consisted of flying now and then and unsuccessfully trying to sleep the rest of my life away, he surprised me with a job offer:
"Come be a Dogcatcher!"
He explained he didn't really need me to catch dogs. All I needed to do was drive around in the County van and "show the colors".......demonstrate to the residents that their tax dollars were being used to look for stray dogs!
What a deal! Drive around the county all day long listening to the radio and get paid minimum wage! At the time, it was strangely appealing.......something to keep my mind off how miserable I was.
For about a week I was able to do just that, too! I drove around and worked hard at ignoring the fact that there really were strays roaming around that needed to be tended to. And then I got flagged down to tend to a dog that had been hit by a car. Still alive, it was obvious he was badly hurt. There was nothing I could do for him but try and comfort him as I picked him up and put him in the truck. I took him to our "on call" Veterinarian, who put him to sleep.
So I felt obligated to start actually doing the job, realizing the strays needed me to do it.
When dogs are a problem, it's not their fault. People make a mess of their animals lives!
I like dogs a lot. But during my tenure as dogcatcher, my feelings for dog owners became much less positive!
My friend the County Executive promoted me to Coordinator of the Rabies Control Department. In this capacity I eventually had 22 Rabies Control Officers working for me.
One of the jobs I reserved for myself, because I didn't want anyone else to have to do it, was euthanizing the animals.
This was a stressful, terrible part of the work. I won't go into the mechanics of this job, but I will tell you that it is an irony.......it's hard for an animal lover to do, but you wouldn't want someone that didn't love animals doing it.
Most people don't realize the scope of the problem we have with stray or uncontrolled animals. In the year I was in this job I euthanized over 2000 dogs and cats!
This was in a relatively small county......I can't imagine the numbers in a large municipal area!
Multiply this by the number of cities and counties across the U.S. to get a feeling for the magnitude of the problem.
Animal Control Officers do a much needed, emotionally stressful job.
There are many jobs in this world that most of us don't want to do for one reason or another. We should always remember to be grateful to those that "take up that yoke" in our stead.
Animal Control Officers do one of those jobs.
I'm glad to have had the job. It was a step to other opportunities, and helped me to overcome my post-divorce blues.
But I have a different perspective than most when I hear Bob Barker from "The Price is Right" say, "Spay or Neuter your pets"!
It's great advice!
"Last year about 35,000 cats and dogs were reportedly killed at the five shelters run by New York City’s Center for Animal Care and Control. At least a third of them were healthy and not dangerous. They were killed – euthanized, in the parlance of the field -- because there just wasn’t room for them. This is the way it has been for decades. Every day, as many as 200 animals -- lost, homeless, unwanted, sick or injured – are taken to these shelters. By the end of every week, about two-thirds of them have been put to death."
If you want to read it all:
Although 35,000 is horrible, I'm actually surprised this number isn't larger!