COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. -- Animal control officers around the Tri-Cities want to clear up some common misconceptions about their jobs.
First and foremost, it is a lot more than taking care of cats and dogs.
Every year, they care for hundreds of animals including — but not limited to — dogs, cats, pigs, guinea pigs, bunnies, ferrets, goats, chickens, and roosters.
“A turkey had me going for a while. We picked that up as a stray, as it would be, but it was obviously someone's pet," Amanda Sverchek, with Colonial Heights Animal Control, said. "His name was Earl, and he hung out like he was just another member of the staff.”
When it comes to dogs and cats, it is not just stray animals who come into contact with animal control.
“We do have purebred at times that come in here and people have a misconception that it’s just stray dogs and cats," Sverchek said.
“We’ve had Golden Doodles come through, we’ve had German Shepards, we’ve had English Bulldogs to English Mastiffs, and Great Danes," Amanda Hoak, with Hopewell Animal Control, said.
But one of the biggest misconceptions is that animal control officers only help animals.
"We also help people a lot too," Kylee Duty, with Prince George County Animal Control, said.
Animal Control Officers' interactions with pet owners and students are a big part of the job.
“We do community outreach," Sverchek said. "If they need straw, we provide dog houses if we have it, dog beds. We most recently started hosting free clinics for the homeless."
The Prince George Animal Shelter recently teamed up with the school system to work with students with special needs.
“They help cleaning of kennels and help with various building maintenance such as laundry, folding of newspapers used for cleaning the cat enclosures," Prince George County Police Sgt. Nick Wilder said.
Tony Townsend’s son Zach is one of three participants.
“It gives a person an opportunity just to have life skills, working skills. You know, everybody needs to be a productive citizen," Townsend said. "[Zach] loves it. He just loves animals and he likes interacting with the staff.”
Most Animal Control shelters also help people with pets who, because of life circumstances, need help with things like food and bedding.
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