- Associated Press - Thursday, January 23, 2014

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) - Kelly Yarde describes his work as an Animal Control officer as “a job, a passion and a love.”

He figures that if those latter two feelings ever fade away, it will be time to leave and do something else. But the 46-year-old Army veteran is a long way from that point. Even on a cold, windy day like Wednesday, Yarde arrives at work motivated to take on whatever lies ahead.

Specific tasks differ from day-to-day, but Yarde and his cohorts know countless animals of various species are in distress and need their help - or anyone’s help. Many of those animals are shivering during this unrelenting winter season.

“Animals act differently when it’s cold,” Yarde told the Evansville Courier & Press (https://bit.ly/1g4jOwY ) as he pulled out of Animal Control’s parking lot on Uhlhorn Drive to go on a series of calls. “Those that are afraid of you, it seems the colder it is, they’re that much more afraid of you. Even though you’re there to help them, they don’t realize it. Their willingness to give into you is less likely because of it.”

Yarde is one of six Animal Control officers at the joint Evansville and Vanderburgh County government agency (there’s one soon-to-be-filled vacancy). The agency has officers on the street every day and night of the year, including holidays. Officers enforce city and county ordinances and state laws regarding animal regulations, including gut-wrenching cases of animal cruelty.

Yarde pulled up to a residence on Olive Street, where a complaint had been filed of multiple cats - as many as 30 - in the home. He noted only five cats inside, spoke briefly to the homeowner and left. Local ordinances require animal owners to provide consistent shelter, water and bedding. Animals must be fed, but ordinances don’t require food to be in front of them constantly.

At the Olive Street home, Yarde saw nothing on which he could base a citation.

“My goal is not to cite people, my goal is to get people in compliance,” Yarde said. “(The ordinance) is a tool when needed. If we have repeat offenders, that tool is being abused, so we do go into citation mode.”

Yarde’s military service took him to Bosnia, Iraq and elsewhere. In the same way Yarde viewed military service as being part of a team, he said taking care of four-legged friends in Evansville and Vanderburgh County requires teamwork also, from Animal Control, the Vanderburgh Humane Society, adoption agencies and residents.

“If one link in the chain is weak, it falls apart,” Yarde said. ” … I’ve talked with other Animal Control personnel throughout the country, and some of them treat the people like they’re above them. We’re not above the people. We’re a community, and getting that respect from the community is just as important as getting respect from fellow law-enforcement officers.”

Evansville resident Cody Hicks joined the team Wednesday. He called Animal Control to report he was holding two stray cats at his home on West Eichel Street. Snow swirled through the neighborhood as Yarde arrived to pick up the black cats.

Hicks was holding them in a cage, and both were clearly frightened as Yarde tried to transfer them to his cage. One of the cats grasped with a claw onto to an orange pillow in Hicks’ cage, desperately trying to hang on, before Yarde could pull it away.

Hicks sees numerous stray cats in his neighborhood, and he called Animal Control out of concern for the two he managed to capture. Hicks has cats of his own, and “being as cold as it is, I’m not going to let them sit outside,” he said.

Later, Yarde found himself in the somewhat unusual situation of picking up an animal who was supremely cared for and in good spirits.

The owner of the 5-year-old beagle has been diagnosed with cancer and explained he no longer could keep the dog.

“(The owner) got out breath just talking to me,” Yarde said. “He said the dog could go into any home and likes kids, any kinds of kids.”

Yarde said he would quickly get in touch with various local agencies regarding the beagle, and “we can probably get it re-homed pretty quick.”

Collecting roadkill is part of Animal Control’s job, too. Yarde on Wednesday retrieved a deer carcass on Diamond Avenue and a dead rat from behind a store on Diamond.

“At least it’s not having to pick up somebody’s pet,” Yarde said.

He and other Animal Control officers scoff at the term “dogcatcher” because it doesn’t come close to describing what their work entails. Cases involving birds are common, including chasing them from homes. Wednesday morning on Fulton Avenue, he picked up a pigeon with a broken wing. Animal Control recently collected a beaver at First Avenue and Allen Lane. There are occasional calls about snakes.

Yarde said there’s never a shortage of business for Animal Control, even though, in a general way, education about proper pet care seems be reaching many people. Yarde and other local animal protection professionals constantly encourage residents to spay and neuter their pets, to have microchips placed and to adopt from area shelters.

But they still see cases involving animals that are troubling, and Yarde said their emotions must be kept in check on such occasions.

He noted that local and state codes mandate pet owners to provide minimum living conditions for pets.

“They don’t require you to love your pets. As long as they provide the bare minimum necessities, there’s nothing we can do.”

___

Information from: Evansville Courier & Press, https://www.courierpress.com

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide