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Charles Darwin once said, “The love of all living creatures is the noble attribute of man,” and the City of Denton Animal Services certainly follows that creed. From aiding wildlife in need, to helping lost pets find their way back home, and finding homes for animals in need of one, this agency does everything it can to serve the four-legged members of our community.
Animal Field Services
One of the main facets of the City of Denton Animal Services is providing animal field services. This is done through a team of nine animal service officers, says city animal services manager Dorcas Johnson, that handles around 7,100 calls a year.
“Our officers go out in the field and patrol for stray dogs,” she explains. “We also offer a trap and release system where if somebody does trap a raccoon, they go out, pick up that wildlife, and release it in a location.”
Johnson says the largest amount of calls they receive are for dog bites. “If a dog is running at large and it does bite someone, an officer does go out there and respond to pick up the dog,” she says. Any dogs picked up for biting someone are quarantined for 10 days as per Texas state law in case they have rabies.
At the Shelter
Another main job of the City of Denton Animal Services is running the Linda McNatt Animal Care and Adoption Center, which houses the main offices for Animal Services.
The $2-million shelter first opened in February 2015, thanks to the efforts of the Denton Animal Support Foundation. This is where Johnson says they adopt out their “cute small and furries and big and furries.”
In addition to cats and dogs, Johnson says they will get other types of animals as well at the shelter, including rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, ferrets, and even a random hedgehog or snake. “Whatever the public walks through the door with, as long as they are a City of Denton resident, we do have to take that as a municipal shelter,” she explains. “So we do provide care for a variety of species.”
Johnson says almost 4,900 animals made their way through the shelter during their last fiscal year. She says that number was a bit low due to COVID and they already are seeing larger numbers this year.
Every animal a person adopts from the shelter comes spayed or neutered, fully vaccinated, and microchipped. This is all done at the shelter’s veterinary clinic. “We do get them spayed and neutered rather quickly and get them on the adoption floor so they can get into some good homes,” Johnson says.
Sadly, dogs and cats can become lost in Denton and find their way to the shelter. If someone in Denton loses their pet, the first thing Johnson suggests is they check the City of Denton Animal Services’ PetFinder website.
“When an officer or kennel tech checks in an animal, they take a picture of that animal and it is uploaded onto PetFinder,” she explains. “So you want to check that photo log first to make sure your animal is even here. If they see an animal on there that kind of looks like (theirs), but they can’t tell, we welcome them to come in and take a look in our cat or dog section.”
How Dentonites Can Help
Although Denton residents already support the city’s Animal Services through taxes, they can increase their assistance through monetary and item donations, as well as volunteer man-hours.
Johnson says any monetary donations they receive from the public go into a general fund they use for the animals in their care. “Whether that’s to feed our animals or buy more vaccines, it’s all through donations and the support of our community,” she says.
The shelter is always in need of donated items for its four-legged visitors, including food, toys — including used ones — and everyday items like towels. “Just today, we had somebody drop off two large bags of towels,” Johnson says. “We can always use towels — we use them in the back clinic, we use them when we’re cleaning out kennels and bleaching everything down.”
And the shelter’s volunteer program helps provide additional support and care to its animals. The first step to volunteering at the shelter, Johnson says, is to attend one of the shelter’s volunteer orientation programs, normally held every other Saturday at the shelter. During the orientation, participants are given a tour of the shelter and prepared to work with the animals in the shelter.
Once orientation is completed and they become an official volunteer, Johnson says they can sign up for volunteer opportunities through their online software program. “They can sign up for cat cuddling or dog walking or dog bathing, so when they come in, they know exactly where they’re supposed to go,” she adds.
“Volunteer hours are so impactful,” Johnson continues. “We have a lot of animals here that we don’t know what their past is, but we do know that they are very fearful sometimes. Even if you’re not coming to adopt, if you’re able to spend a couple of hours with that dog or with that cat and make it feel more comfortable with people, that’s going to make all the difference in regards to getting them adopted.”