I have a simple and modest proposal — one that would involve only a name change, a slightly new way of thinking, and maybe some new stationery.
It has long been in the back of my head, but was brought to the forefront by recent cellphone videos gone viral — one (it used to be above but was removed from YouTube) of a dog being dragged through the halls of an animal control department in California; one (below) of a police officer slapping and otherwise berating a homeless man in Florida.
Both are examples of what can go wrong — and often does — when you give one group power over others. Both are about control.
Seeking, seizing and holding “control,” necessary as it sometimes seem in a so-called civilized society, almost always leads to bad things, including most of the dog abuse that occurs in our country. We get a little too caught up in the whole idea of having control — over our fellow man, over other species, over other nations, over nature itself.
Those put in control, as today’s videos show, tend to lose control when they see their control being threatened.
Hence, I propose that we do away with the term “animal control” and rename all those county animal control offices “animal protection” departments — protection being what they are mostly about, or should be mostly about, in the first place.
I’m not suggesting doing away with regulating and enforcing in the dog world — only that those doing it go under a different moniker, which, just maybe, would allow them to be seen by the public, and see themselves, less as heavy-handed dictators, more as noble do-gooders.
And animal control offices do do good. They operate shelters, find dogs new homes, rescue strays from the streets and abusive situations. The new name would put an emphasis on that, and take it away from “control.”
The term “animal control” is archaic — not much better than the even more outdated “dog warden” — yet most counties continue to use it. Employees see it on the sign when they pull into the parking lot, when they walk through the front door, on their memos and their paychecks. It’s a constant reminder, even though most of their duties are aimed at helping dogs, that they are, above all, strict enforcers and inflexible bureaucrats.
A simple name change could help fix that.
I, for instance, would love working as an animal protection officer; I’m not sure I’d want to be an animal control officer — even though most of what they do is about protecting animals. The name change could attract job applicants who see the mission as helping dogs, and possibly help weed out those who see all dogs as nuisances, and control as paramount.
In addition to improving employee self-esteem, it could help change the negative public perceptions that come with being the agency that tickets dog owners for leash-less or unlicensed dogs, euthanizes dogs when their facilities get too crowded, and sends the “dog catcher” out on his daily rounds.
There’s no reason — assuming a stray dog is being captured humanely, and treated humanely in a shelter, and put up for adoption — that the “dog catcher,” traditionally portrayed as a villain, can’t become a dog savior in the public view.
Having “Animal Protection Department” written on the side of the truck, instead of “Animal Control Department,” would go a long way toward that.
A simple shift in emphasis, and in how some agencies present themselves to the public, is all I’m talking about. It wouldn’t be only a matter of spin, though. Being an animal protection department would require actually protecting animals — and seeing that as a primary mission.
It wouldn’t make the world a kinder place overnight, and it wouldn’t keep cranky police officers from slapping homeless people — like I said it’s a modest proposal — but it could be a start, at least in the dog world, to a new way of thinking both about and among the government employees we entrust those duties to (and pay the salaries of).
They would be more about helping and educating, less about controlling.
A handful of agencies have at least worked “animal protection,” or “animal care” into their names, but most can’t quite bring themselves to let go of the term “control.”
Thus you have, for instance, the Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control.
Maybe they think losing “control” would be a sign they are losing control.
The term “control” might be appropriate when it comes to those agencies dealing with things like disease and traffic.
But not for those dealing with our family members.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 26th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: agency, animal control, animal rights, animal welfare, animals, change, control, controlling, county, department, dog catcher, dog dragged, dog warden, dogs, duties, enforcement, government, hesperia, homeless, local, los angeles, mission, name, name change, office, pets, police, proposal, purpose, regulation, rescues, shelters, slapped, videos
It’s no secret that animals seem to sense earthquakes before they hit, but here’s some video proof.
A 6.5 magnitude earthquake that caused millions of dollars of property damage in Humboldt County, California, Saturday was sensed by a Labrador named Sophie well before humans started reacting, according to this video, from surveillance cameras in the offices of the Times-Standard in Eureka.
Sophie bolts from the room several seconds before the room starts visibly shaking and workers can be seen fleeing.
Yet more proof that dogs have more sense than humans — or at least humans who work for newspapers.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 12th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: california, detection, detects, dog, earthquake, eureka, humboldt county, magnitude, newspaper, northern, office, quake, reaction, reacts, sense, senses, times-standard, video
As a firm believer that every day should be “Take Your Dog to Work Day” — and having never worked for a company that would permit such a thing (even once the official day was proclaimed) — I don’t get too awfully excited by it.
Especially now that I work from home, Ace at my side.
On top of that, though, it has always struck me as strange that the day was created by Pet Sitters International, a group whose members, if everyone one took their dog to work, wouldn’t have much to do.
On the other hand, the day does get some employers to open their doors to dogs, and more important, it helps educate the public on the benefits of responsible pet ownership, raises the awareness of the human-animal bond, and supports the efforts of local animal shelters, rescues and humane societies.
So, with the 11th annual “Take Your Dog to Work Day” approaching — it’s Friday — by all means, take your dog to work, if your employer is enlightened enough to play along.
And in either case, by all means drop by after work at the Maryland SPCA, which is celebrating the day with a “Wine & Wag” party of its own, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
The SPCA, at 330 Falls Road in Baltimore, will be offering drinks, snacks and activities that include doggie musical chairs, paw painting, bobbing for hot dogs, a treasure hunt and plenty of free treats, courtesy of Dogma.
Admission is $10 in advance and $15 at the gate per person. (The event will be canceled and ticket prices will be refunded if the weather is bad.)
— Recognize that this can be a stressful experience for your dog, and bring along a favorite pillow or blanket so he has something familiar to comfort him.
— Bring a leash to walk your dog from the car to the office, and to control him in the office.
— Bring food or treats and a water bowl.
— Help your dog pass the time by bringing along dog toys.
— Don’t leave your dog alone with other dogs. If you must leave for a meeting, isolate your dog in a closed office or have a dog-familiar friend sit in until you return.
— Watch for any signs of dog aggressiveness, such as growling, staring, raised hackles, and stiff body posture. Diffuse potential conflict by removing your dog from the area.
— Don’t try to force unfamiliar dogs to “become friends.”
— Check with your supervisor to get an okay to leave work early if your dog can’t handle the new environment. If he becomes too stressed, overexcited or inhibited, it’s best to just take him home. Do not leave him in your vehicle while you continue to work.
— If a dog fight occurs, don’t try to break it up by hand. Use your dog’s blanket to throw over the heads of the fighting dogs. This will confuse the combatants long enough for you to defuse the situation.
(Photo: Mija, in accounts payable, from Takeyourdog.com)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 24th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: barkbusters, dog, dogs, employees, maryland spca, office, pet sitters international, take your dog, take your dog to work day, tips, tydtwd, wine & wag, work, workplace