Dogcatcher sings the blues

Published:

Who really wants to be a dogcatcher? The assignment is so unpalatable that the inability to get elected to it used to symbolize the ultimate in political failure.

Todd Moore, who resigned this month as Franklin County animal control officer after a series of complaints against him culminating in a reprimand for driving his official vehicle to a yard sale, said he was “burnt out.” The job, he told State Journal reporter Lauren Hallow, is thankless in many ways. “It wears on you.”

He’s not alone. There’s a black cloud over the whole enterprise of animal welfare and control here and elsewhere in Kentucky. A manager of the local animal shelter resigned two years ago after misidentifying a pet dog as a coyote and releasing it into the woods. The controversy led to a reorganization of the Franklin County Humane Society board, but problems persisted. One board member and a volunteer later took a plea deal after being accused of stealing a dog for safekeeping.

One trouble with being dogcatcher – or animal shelter manager – is you almost always make an enemy of someone, whatever you do. If you’re too soft-hearted, you get criticized for not doing a good enough job keeping stray animals off the street. If you’re too hard-hearted, you come under attack for cruelty to helpless dogs and cats and condemning too many of them to be euthanized.

“Look at it this way,” Moore said. “If someone calls me and says, ‘There’s a stray dog running loose. Come pick it up,’ then the owner of the dog’s not going to be very happy. But if I go out to pick the dog up and can’t find the dog, the call doesn’t get resolved, then the person who called in to begin with isn’t happy.”

Moore experienced his share of big and little unpleasantries in 12 years as animal control officer. Judge-Executive Ted Collins suspended him without pay for two days in 2007 for telling a humane society staffer the manager (the same one involved in the dog-coyote affair) could “kiss my ass.” Kentucky State Police told Collins they’d had trouble reaching Moore at times when his services were needed. County Treasurer Susan Laurenson complained he failed to reimburse the county for personal use of his official cell phone.

Then there was the time in 2009 when he was suspended for five days without pay when then-animal control officer Kevin Caudle told then-Sheriff Steve Clark that Moore had used road department computers to view pornography and visit webcam chat rooms.

Notwithstanding the chorus of shame, Sheriff Pat Melton says he believes Moore did the best he could, within the limits of his abilities, to perform a tough job. Moore sincerely wanted to do right by the animals and to protect the public safety, in his opinion.

Part of the difficulty may be the community’s low expectations of what an animal control officer can and should do. The old saw about a hapless politician’s failure to get elected dogcatcher more or less sums up the public contempt.

Local government in general attempts to meet its animal-welfare responsibilities on the economy plan. The city and county jointly pay the Franklin County Humane Society $100,000 a year to handle the chore. That’s not nearly enough to do what needs to be done, so the society forever pleads for additional help from the general public.

Until the taxpayers of Frankfort and Franklin County decide to make a more substantial investment in professional animal services, they can probably expect to keep getting what they pay for, along with some things they don’t really want.

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  • The problem isn't Animal Control or the pound, it's the idiots that get a dog and don't take care of it! Our neighbor's dog keeps stealing our shoes off our front porch and their cat comes over and pees on them! He denies it's his dog but brings some of our shoes back that he finds in his back yard? My daughter caught the dog doing it one night and called the police. They said Animal Control would contact us. The Animal Control Officer came early the next day and was very nice and helpful! He said we could take the neighbor to court as he's liable for whatever damage his dog does. He talked to the neighbor who apologized and said he'd repay us. (He's never paid a dime for the damage he did to our car when he backed into it so I'm not holding my breath) I then asked him to do something about the dog that is THREE doors down and barks constantly. He said he'd gotten other reports about it. Why do people get a dog, put it in a fence, kennel, or even worse on a chain and just leave it? Never pay attention to it, train it not to bark, or take care of it properly? Don't get a dog at all! No body wants to hear YOUR dog bark all day and night! Optimally all dogs should be loved and cared for and spayed and neutered, but in my opinion a dog is better off euthanized then to suffer a horrible life of loneliness on a chain or in a kennel.

  • It is a terrible site. I do not suggest it. I typically do not read Topix. The thing that I found interesting was: going by the dates listed, the information in the paper was on Topix at least a week before it was in the paper. Also on Topix, someone asked if anyone had called the paper about Mr. Moore being at a yard sale. I truly hope that the State Journal is not getting it's news ideas from Topix or from the hateful people who post on Topix.

  • Ahh yes, Topix. I've heard a LOT about that site, where people can type just about anything they want. Never been there.

  • Steve, I was on my phone trying to see if there was any information on Mr. Caudle??? who made the false reports about Mr. Moore. This article and a string of posts from Topix showed up. On my phone, it looked as if this article was posted by the newspaper. Thanks for the explanation.

  • No way can you please everybody in that job. Todd, good luck to you. To the new animal control person, do your job & to **** with who gets mad! Take care of your animals & you will never have a problem with the wardens.

  • CJT, to get here you had to click on a headline. Just above that headline was the boldface word "Opinion." Editorials are usually not signed, but I guarantee you the writer has seen your comment.

  • CJT Give a little credit to our local paper, with the facts in here, its not hearsay or rumors its report data gainede by an open records request. If you think people were out to get him they could have done that long ago. by reading the 2 stories it looks like he was given more than several chances. and the sheriffs own tip line was the last straw. granted its not an easy job because as he said 50% of the time you make someone mad. nut thats your job. people need to take care of there animals as much as they do there children. we all make choices every day some good some bad. he resigned, he didnt get fired. He said he was resigning cause of public ridicule and burnout. bashing this paper for reporting what has been a several year story of the care of our animals in the city and county is pointless. I wish Mr. Moore the best of luck and even more to our two current animal control officers.

  • Steve, I could not see thatthis was an opinion page. i also do not see someone's name signed to it. This piece takes information from an article which also reported hearsay and lies as truth. I have seen this type of reporting in the State Journal for several years. It is ridiculous and makes Frankfort look bad. If someone is going to write a piece and slander a person, he should sign his name. If I were Mr. Moore, I would take legal action against the State Journal and the various people who apparently have been dogging him for years.

  • You're aware this is an "Opinion" piece, right?

  • I would like to know who wrote this. Whoever wrote it is not a good reporter. He reports hearsay as fact and falsehoods as fact. I am going to contact the parent company and ask if the powers that be are aware of the tabloid type newspaper that is being published here. It is quite despicable.

  • Well, let's see who hires him now. Clearly the city/county has swept his little "problem" under the rug at least twice now. I've been looking for a decent paying job for 2 years; if I see him back in the county's pocket somewhere else, they'll be hearing from me.

  • Our entire world is so messed up in priorities. We would rather pay hundreds of dollars to travel and see UK players battle over an orange ball than give that same amount towards the care of children, the elderly and the animals. Just think, if everyone for one year would re-direct the money they spend on UK games, apparel, etc, then we could really make a difference in the world.