- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 2, 2015

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Who says working in animal control isn’t pretty? It is when a beauty queen is wearing the badge.

Haylee Sauerwine splits her time between her duties as an animal control officer and 2015 Miss Wyoming United States. She was crowned this past April in Casper and competed for the Miss United States title in July in Washington, D.C., though that went to Miss South Carolina United States Summer Priester.

Sauerwine became an animal control officer in December 2014 and made animal cruelty prevention and awareness her pageant platform - neatly tying in both sides of her life. Sauerwine’s mother, Cecilia, said Haylee loved animals from a very young age and even doctored her own as a child.

“Her little kitten - the garage door got closed on it. She had to put IVs in it herself and give it shots. She was probably 11 or 12, maybe 10. She wouldn’t let us do it. She had to do it. They showed her how to do it at the vet,” Cecilia Sauerwine said. She added, “Then her dog got diabetes, so she had to give it shots twice a day.”

And Cecilia Sauerwine said she thinks Haylee may have found her niche in animal control.

“This kid’s never been scared of any animal. They had a snake get loose at one of the junior high schools, and she was all excited because they got to go find it,” Cecilia Sauerwine said.

But the job isn’t all excitement for Haylee. Animal control officers also answer calls for animal cruelty.

Haylee said there is a lot more animal cruelty happening locally than she expected when she first took the job.

“One of the worst (cases) I’ve seen is a woman who kept some animals in a camper. She was actually an animal hoarder as well as a regular hoarder. So there was just stuff piled up high in the camper, there was feces everywhere, and there was a small, little corner of the bed that was remotely clean that she slept on,” Haylee explained.

She added, “The animals were not in good condition. Some of them had cancerous tumors. You could just tell it was a long process to get them into the horrible shape they were in.”

Those situations are more difficult than people might think, Haylee said.

“It’s one thing for people to see the ASPCA commercials and say, ‘Man, those dogs are in terrible situations,’ but it’s another to be able to give them vivid detail - the smell or the look in their eyes when they’re right in front of you,” Haylee said.

And animal cruelty isn’t her only focus as Miss Wyoming United States. She also is visiting children who have cancer or other terminal illnesses in children’s hospitals.

Haylee said that began when a young girl named Haley asked her to visit at the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children. She said Haley was excited that a beauty queen shared her name. And Haylee said she couldn’t have enjoyed the day more.

“It was kind of one of those things where you meet the celebrity that you want to meet, and the celebrity is a fan of you. I adored her even from the time she sent me the invitation,” she said.

Haylee said she keeps in touch with young Haley as much as possible.

“I honestly believe that someone like her could help change the world, which is something that I’m trying to do myself,” she said.

Haylee said she began her career in pageants when she was 15. Cecilia Sauerwine was not on board with the idea in the beginning. She said she thought it might be bad for self-esteem.

“But with the Miss United States pageant that she has been in, there is a lot that people don’t see and a lot of caring that goes into these pageants. It opened my eyes,” Cecilia Sauerwine said.

And Haylee said, “It’s a really big self-esteem builder, just to push you to be the best person, put your best self forward. It actually has pushed me to do that on and off stage.”

And it certainly seems to be working. Shawna Braley, mother of Junior Teen Miss Wyoming Ashlyn Braley, became very emotional as she described Haylee and the mentoring she has done with Ashlyn.

“With Haylee, there isn’t a fake bone in her body. Haylee is a very genuine individual, and I respect her for that. She will be honest with you at all times,” Shawna Braley said.

Braley added, “I think she shows that it’s not just a pretty face, that there is substance behind a beauty queen. It’s someone who can be serious and be passionate.”

Haylee’s coworker, Samuel Szott, said Haylee is enthusiastic about their job in animal control, even when no one else can muster up any excitement. And he added that people can find it aggressive when law enforcement tells them how to handle their animals, but he thinks the orders are easier to swallow coming from Miss Wyoming United States.

Haylee said there are more parallels between her job and her title than a person might think. She said the animal shelter often uses her as a spokesperson for kids, and she spends a lot of her time in animal control traveling and working with the public, just as she does as Miss Wyoming United States.

And she said, “Whether I’m wearing a badge or a crown, people stare.”

Haylee said she expects she will continue working with animals in the future, but she isn’t certain what form that will take. She still is selecting a college major.

But Cecilia Sauerwine said she believes Haylee will continue with animal control because it encompasses her passion for animals and her love for her late father, who was a law enforcement officer. But whatever Haylee chooses to do, she is sure to do it with style. She wears her animal control uniform with full makeup and not a hair out of place. Cecilia Sauerwine said, “That would be Haylee!”


Information from: Wyoming Tribune Eagle, https://www.wyomingnews.com

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