In Honor of Animal Control Officer Week, Thank You. I wrote this open letter in 2016 after an incredibly emotional time dealing with an abuse case and helping to coordinate with local ACOs and law enforcement and legislatures. It is raw, honest and I still mean every single word.
Below is an interview with ACO DeGenova who has been on our Community Program for over 10 years, please take a listen too! My letter follows!
I would like to take a moment to send a message to all the ACOs I know personally, the ones I talk to on a regular basis, my dear sister in our rescue group, and all the ACOs I don't know personally but understand and know the work you do.
Every time you reach out to me for help on air or otherwise, I hear in your voice the passion, the strength, the courage and yes, the shear fear that this might be the "case" you can't save or win. I want to tell you what an inspiration you are to me. I could not do your job.
If anyone thinks that ACOs (Animal Control Officers), only deal with animals, let me correct you. They are most often the first line of defense a child has in an abusive home. If an animal is being mistreated in a home with children, it is very likely that there is domestic violence in that home. When ACOs are called to a scene of animal cruelty, often it is committed by a person or people who have been abused themselves. It's a vicious cycle, with too many statistics and facts to include and far too many people who do not understand.
Every time you message, email or text me, I hear you and pray for you. I'm not sure who I pray to, but I believe in good and I know for sure that evil exists. I wanted you to know I hear you. I respect you. I wish I could take away the sadness in your hearts knowing that you face, on a daily basis, the very worst of humanity. On the other side, I know you face the very best of us too, but some days, it doesn't feel like that exists.
I just wanted to tell you I understand the ignorant comments about your job, the quick to judge decisions people make against you and your everyday battle with local government and policies you must enforce that sometimes go against every fiber in your body. I know the days when you are alone and cry.
Please hear me when I say YOU are not alone. Your actions, compassion and daily tasks make a difference every day. EVERY DAY. And on the days when you have to do the final act of compassion for an animal so mistreated by humankind, dumped or, for the simple reason of breed or no one was available to give the poor soul a home to love, I know what that does to your heart, mind and soul. I also believe in my heart that with that final act of compassion, that somehow, that soul knows you loved him/her.
So please, never forget, you are my heroes. I support you and will continue to fight with you for a better world where people finally understand that for that to exist, we need more kindness to all creatures.
Signed your devoted supporter, Renee #PeopleAndPets
Written 2016 Renee DiNino