My short bio:

I work for a large police department in the southern United States. I meet people everyday who need to be educated and re-educated on all things involving animals and their welfare. I have also found that people rarely understand their rights as American citizens, and are often taken advantage of by their local government (to which I greatly enjoy this type of re-education, much to my employer's chagrin). I have thanked more than one person for telling me to get off their property until I have a warrant, seriously.

I have found that creativity and humor have been my best assets in resolving issues and complaints on a regular basis. Creativity catches animals, humor deescalates potentially dangerous situations involving their owners. I am a realist when it comes to animals: save the ones we can, some should be killed.

My Proof:

UPDATE: I'll check back to answer any remaining questions. Thanks Reddit!

Comments: 156 • Responses: 61  • Date: 

coughedupon38 karma

How often do you have issues with people owning exotic pets and not caring for them properly? I watched a documentary called The Elephant in the Living Room, which was about exotic pet ownership in America. I can imagine people not caring for their pets can be very dangerous, especially when the pets in question happen to be dangerous for humans. Any good stories to share?

youranimalcop65 karma

We also had a man who raised what he thought was a doe from a baby. It was a buck and at one year old, it started to grow antlers. He let it loose but it's mind was not right, lets say. It stood on the front porch of a neighbor's house staring at them eating dinner through the glass front door. I impounded it and gave it to a deer rehab.

concussedYmir14 karma

You seem pretty efficient; usually they have to go through deer near-overdose and deer intervention before deer rehabilitation

youranimalcop12 karma

The recidivism rate is still pretty high though

Not_Growing_Weed7 karma


youranimalcop18 karma

I handle deer much differently than other officers. I routinely violate our SOP in regards to deer. If we tranquilize a deer, it must be impounded and euthanized. My goal is to release them back to wild if they are mobile. I figure nature gives them a better chance than us. In regards to that tame deer, I simply picked it up like one would a dog and put it in the vehicle, hoping it did not kick me...I still have a scar on my knee from getting kicked by one four years ago.

Normal deer that break through a window and into a home or business, I try to move to a smaller area. Bucks are easier to control because you can hold on to their antlers. Bucks are normally the ones that find themselves inside buildings...during rut, they are chasing the girls...Once I grab an antler, I spin the buck around so its facing me while gabbing the other antler. At this point, I lock my elbows and pull the deer to the closest exit. By pulling it, the deer instinctively pulls back and they are relatively easy to guide. Wild animals are still wild so there is no guarantee something unpredictable won't happen, but that's part of the fun, right? Sometimes we shut down traffic depending on where we are releasing it. I have never had a buck try to impale me with its antlers, not saying it won't happen, just hasn't yet. They do try and jump or stand on their rear legs but controlling their head is very effective, Once you get a grip, you don't want to let go.

youranimalcop29 karma

Its not terribly often...once every 6 months or so. The most recent was a woman tried started a zoo in the city 15 years ago and her request was denied. We did not know but she kept four monkeys inside her home the entire time. She lived in a populated area too! We never knew until Fedex delivered a package and saw them in the garage each staring out a window at him. We impounded them but returned them to a location of her choosing outside the county. In our state, exotic animals are limited by county. Most counties don't have rules against it

coughedupon6 karma

Is it hard finding places to send exotic animals? It's not like zoos have open spots very commonly, how do you find a place for them?

youranimalcop12 karma

It depends on the animal. Some we can hold on to and actually adopt out to 'approved' rescue groups, such as rare or poisonous snakes. There are people across the country that are licensed and more than eager to come and pick up exotic animals. We don't normally deal much with zoos

SpookySP30 karma

Why animal cop and not pet detective?

youranimalcop160 karma

can't afford the hair gel

sup_doge16 karma

Any particular species stand out as requiring your services more than others? (e.g. 30% of calls are pythons trying to eat small children)

youranimalcop25 karma

breakdown: 10% bites report, 10% aggressive animals in progress, 15% barking complaints, 20% Abuse reports, 20% stray animal, 10% Wild animal, 10% take your pick of possible neighbor complaints ,5% assist police

youranimalcop42 karma

As far as species, we live in a southern city so pit bulls are the most prevalent species... I dont mind pit bulls but their owners tend to also be the least responsible. so it rubs of on the dogs.

singer81213 karma

Have you ever been on the Animal Cops shows on Animal Planet? My dad worked with Harris County SO in the Livestock Devision and made several appearances on Animal Cops Houston.

Also, do you mainly do cats and dogs, or is it horses and livestock too? In my father's case he only did "big" animals ie horses, cattle, pigs, chickens...he had to corral emus one time too. But all the domestic, household animals were taken in by the SPCA.

youranimalcop12 karma

Emus are jerks haha. We dont have SPCA here, we handle both sides. We work heavily with the humane society but they tend to just take the cute puppies and kittens from us to adopt themselves. Mainly we deal with dogs, then wild animals, then cats, then livestock.

youranimalcop10 karma

I have not, our city does not participate with shows, so no COPS and no Animal Cops. We have thought about doing our own, in house documentary of sorts...Its still being decided who and what we tape and if we do, it would be us filming ourselves and probably more for training purposes.

DelphFox3 karma

I bet reddit could scrounge up a GoPro or two if you published the highlights on youtube. I mean, look what we did for a mall cop in a bad part of town!

Reddit loves animals and cops with body cams. Combine the two into crazy animal cop videos, and you would quickly have a dedicated and international audience, I'm sure of it.

The only downside (which really isn't a downside) is that you'd have to keep all footage for a while, as it would be evidence. But that can help you a great deal, especially when you find yourself in the unenviable position of having to get between insane animal people and their "babies".

youranimalcop2 karma

t would probably end up bypassing youtube and go straight to liveleak, and not in the fun way, lol

Dodgerthehwydog13 karma

I was a military police officer. How hard is it to be hired on as an animal cop? I have a wide range of experience with livestock, birds, snakes, rodents and fish.

youranimalcop11 karma

It's not too difficult. It depends on who employs you. Because we are within the police department, we need to pass a background check, polygraph, drug tests. High school diploma is all that we require. Smaller agencies probably require even less than that. There is normally decent turnover also because people find that the job is not as much getting licked by puppies as much as it is resolving disputes between people, so there are probably openings near you. Experience with animals is not all that necessary. It's more of an on-the-job type training scenario. I hated snakes when I started but I am comfortable handling them now.

OtakuSRL12 karma

What is the worst and best situations you've seen? Best recovery story, too? Thanks!

youranimalcop29 karma

There are a lot of both, hard to pick a most extreme. I received a call for a dead dog on a chain in someone's backyard. As I was searching the property, I found a truck with a pull behind trailer, something like a U-Haul, attached to it. The door was slightly open and the smell of death was strong in the August heat. I opened the door and found 29 dead dogs. Several puppies and multiple breeds and states of decay. The home was owned by someone out of state who stated that no one should have been living at the property, so we had no leads. No mail to address and neighbors in that area are not helpful.

Best is several feral (wild) puppies that were 4 months old that I captured that were living in the drain system under the city. They were completely un-socialized. After a month of working with them, we are able to adopt them out. That was my favorite 'success' story based on how much time I invested. I often bring in animals that are close to death that others foster and invest their time and then make incredible turn-arounds.

youranimalcop19 karma

We arrested one guy for having sex with his dog...seized his computers and sex toys. Crime Scene swabbed the canine's mouth, vagina, anus for DNA. He seemed completely normal too. We get this call occasionally and it is normally handicapped people, this guy had several businesses.

youranimalcop14 karma

The call was placed anonymously, but I figured it was either a family member or ex-girlfriend. The caller stated that the man had instructions on his computer regarding how to have 'relations' with a dog. The caller described a lot of other strange facts. That was probably the weirdest call, partly because it was early in my career, I think things affect me less the longer I do it.

lankston9011 karma

Do you ever get concerned about getting attached to the animals you help? Or in any case have you or your employees gotten attached to any of the animals?

youranimalcop22 karma

Honestly, I don't think about it too much...Early on, I put a memo on a young spaniel/retriever mix that i knew had no chance at adoption because of its temperament, I put a memo on the dog which stated that I would pick up the next day to foster it at my house. When I got to work the next day, it had already been euthanized. Government is less about common sense and more about policies. At the time, I did not fill out a 'foster' form for the animal. They have changed the policy since, but I was tainted on the process. We have a lot of officers that own animals that they have picked up.

youranimalcop24 karma

If I have the time, I will spend 30 minutes or so, working with animals that have issues at the end of the night. I like to think it helps their chances of adoption if handled even if briefly with some care before the lights shut off at night. But I rarely check up on the animals to see what the outcome was.

Golemfrost9 karma

How do the animals get a hold of you in the first place? And how high is the criminal rate among young black alpacas?

youranimalcop11 karma

The best way is by commenting on my IAmA. Depends, neutered black alpacas have a really low crime rate.

Pick2349 karma

Educate me, is there a rule on false reports of animal cruelty?

youranimalcop19 karma

Yes, but no. Potentially one could be charged with making a false report. I think we have only pursued that action once or twice even though most reports of cruelty are actually false. I believe the caller was a real estate agent and wanted to sell her home but since the neighbor had three pit bulls in the backyard, it decreased her potential value, I guess. She called 40 times over two months. We ended up saying one more time and she would be arrested. She stopped, but that was an incredible waste of resources until that point. We normally will answer the call and be on our way, until we can't take it any longer. As for being the target of false reports, you can go to your local magistrate and file a harassment charge.

hangry_lady1 karma

Our county protects the anonymity of the person making the complaint which is incredibly frustrating as our neighbors don't like our exotics business because they feel that it brings down the value of their property. The local officer has been nice about things most of the time as he knows we don't have issues most of the time and that we are more closely monitored by the USDA. It is incredibly frustrating to watch the public's money and the time and resources of an officer being wasted on a petty issue.

youranimalcop3 karma

As long as you're following proper permits and/or licensing, let them call all they want, maybe they'll move. Anonymous callers don't feel any pity from me, unless its an elderly woman living next a crack head. Your county may be able to put a 'do not respond' on your address if it is always unfounded, check into it.

Laserdollarz8 karma

Have you ever had to deal with fish/aquaria?

youranimalcop12 karma

yea, I had a guy who committed suicide that had several hundred fish in tanks all around the house. I picked the dog up inside and had his family remove some of the fish the next day. The ones they did not want were signed over to the city and I imagine they were sold. Mostly exotic Japanese fish if I remember correctly. I think they loaded the tanks on a flatbed truck, I don't remember how they transported the fish, it was done on my day off.

youranimalcop11 karma

I have only impounded fish on two or three occasions so its rare for animal control to deal with fish.

Laserdollarz2 karma

Do you know where the tanks/fish ended up? Auctioned off somewhere, maybe? r/aquariums nerd here, just curious to see if this is a common occurrence

youranimalcop10 karma

Haha, i figured since you used the term aquaria. I am not the type but I know that there were at least 40 names in line to get the tanks. There were three tanks in particular that were pretty expensive i guess. There is a legal process for 'acquired' equipment going to auction but there were definitely employees and volunteers from our agency at the auction that day. The fish were adopted out a very cheap price. We don't have much space at our facility to house a large number of fish. We only have 15 tanks, and usually lizards take up half of them, so we are creative in processing large groups of animals we deal rarely with.

Laserdollarz7 karma

I figured that a normal department wouldn't have the space/ability to deal with a large number of acquired fish, reptiles and amphibians are much easier to deal with.

I'm sure you've never had a specific case for this, but did the guy you mentioned have a coral reef tank (or two,... or five?)

Since corals are (technically) animals, what do you do in that situation?

Thanks for the answers dude

youranimalcop5 karma

yes there were, they went to an officer who has multiple tanks. I guess they are pretty delicate so they had him take them or I believe they would have likely been destroyed.

youranimalcop9 karma

He said they were pretty advanced but that does not mean much to me. He thought it was his birthday

uraniumsquack8 karma

Do you have any animals?

youranimalcop14 karma


youranimalcop59 karma

My wife doesn't like it when I bring work home. It tends to poop on the carpet.

ArchMichael74 karma

So that gets me curious.

You seem to genuinely care about the welfare of the animals (breaking protocol to ensure that you don't have to put down a deer, etc.) yet you don't have any animals of your own.

What's up with that? Have you ever given that any thought?

youranimalcop2 karma

IDK, maybe I care for other people's animals enough that I feel that that part of me is satisfied.

WTXRed7 karma

Ever had to rescue the same animal from different people?

youranimalcop23 karma

I have picked up the same beagle from three different people over the course of 3 months. Each time, I brought it home.

sparklepopper7 karma

Kidnapped, wandering, or repeatedly surrendered?

youranimalcop28 karma

Wandering. The owner's would let it run loose to use the bathroom and it would run away. I told them a neighbor told me they were going to shoot it the next time it ran on their property. Fictitious threats are cheaper than tickets...never went out there again.

WTXRed6 karma

Did you adopt them?

youranimalcop6 karma

Sorry, not to my home. I brought it the owner's address. It was funny because I pick up so many animals that I rarely recognize them. But when I pull up to the owner's address, I remember immediately. The dog had a microchip so it was easy to locate the owner.

KrazYKinetiK5 karma

As a licensed vet tech in an emergency hospital... I need to ask you.. How do you control yourself around abuse cases? We've had multiple animals come in in terrible shape that we've had in hospital for a few weeks on some occasions to get them to a state where one of the shelters we work with would consider taking them on themselves. Also, thank you for what you do, because I know I would not be able to handle myself out there. Helping the animals that have become aggressive because of their situations? No problem.. Handling the people that caused it... not so much.

youranimalcop11 karma

Being emotional is unproductive while in the field. You get used to it and treat it as a problem to be solved. The worst part of it actually is that people tend to treat their animals much like their children...we can fix a cruelly treated animal with relative ease compared to issues the child will face. We can only fix what we can. I also firmly believe people will get what they deserve, in this life or the next...

RicRoc5 karma

do you have any raccoon stories?

youranimalcop11 karma

They are like crazy monkeys and they have thumbs. What a waste of thumbs. See my website for the raccoon story.

randomtwinkie5 karma

Do they have special handcuffs (paw cuffs?) for the animals, or do the normal ones still work

youranimalcop16 karma

Nope, most animals carry a hair pin in their bras, making cuffs obsolete

susubgugu5 karma

Hi there! Thanks for the AMA!

Have you ever dealt with chinchillas? I have two rescues and know they are really easy to mistreat just by lack of knowledge

youranimalcop6 karma

No i haven't. I have seen a few come in but they are rare. Neat critters

katklub5 karma

My neighbors on both sides have dogs that are loudly barking from noon to four in the morning every single day. Anything I can do about it?

Chantottie4 karma

Do you have any stories you would like to share concerning bad owners that you felt bad for?

Or any repeat offender stories?

Thanks for the AMA!

youranimalcop59 karma

On Christmas Eve a few years ago, we had a pretty cold week, it was below 25 degrees and a little snow on the ground. I had a cruelty call for two chihuahuas outside 'about to freeze' to death, according to the caller. I generally don't appreciate doing calls on major Holidays, mostly because I rarely bring good news.
I was about to lay into this guy for having his two chihuahuas tied to a porch when his little daughter came out and asked for dinner and he told her she would have to wait until tomorrow. I went to Walmart and bought two doghouses, doggie sweaters (normally I make fun of people who dress their animals), I had a large bag of dog food already on my vehicle, and a few sandwiches from the deli. I went back to his house and set the doghouses up and made sure everything was good. My bad attitude was instantly changed and it was nice to feel some compassion for a change.

squattmunki2 karma

"Wait until tomorrow" ?? You should've called child services. They could have at least pointed the family in the right direction for food assistance.

youranimalcop5 karma

Child services tend to lead to more problems...right resource for neglect, wrong resource for poverty.

GayTheDayAwayWithMe3 karma

Do you find your belt wearing out often due to the huge strain it must have holding such a vast amount of calls? Leather or nylon webbing?

youranimalcop3 karma

The trick is in having extra long legs

hatchettrydar3 karma

I've worked in dog rescue for several years, specializing in pit bulls and puppy mill situations. Shows like the Dog Whisperer, Pit Boss, and Pit Bulls and Parolees has done a lot to educate the public about ownership responsibility, BSL, and breed profiling, but what do you think should be done to cut down on backyard breeders, puppy mills, and the like? Obviously as long as people are silly enough to fork over $400 for a "designer" breed, there will be people churning them out. Does your city have any kind of spay/neuter requirements?

youranimalcop8 karma

We dont have any special requirements. The problem with some of the shows are now people think they know how to fix every aggressive dog by socializing it...oops it just attacked a dog at the dog park. I digress.

Puppy mills work solely off supply and demand. Between our office and the humane society offering cheap, vaccinated, healthy dogs, we are enough to meet the demand for most of the city. Puppy mills is a loose definition but I assume you mean people selling as many puppies as they can...this normally creates unhealthy dogs, either through line breeding or physical living environments. People don't like paying $400+ for sick pups. They normally put themselves out of business. The occasional breeder normally does not rise to the attention of animal control.

animalcoptrainee3 karma


I am glad too see a new animal cop IAMA. I am 30yrs old and have worked in production industry since 2000. I went back to get my criminal justice degree a few years back and just accepted a job with animal control that is part of my city's police dept, I start in 2 weeks. What can I do to prepare?

EDIT: I have experience with dogs and cats as a humane society volunteer. I have done 3 ride-alongs with animal control for a total of 26hrs.

youranimalcop3 karma

There isn't really one thing I can advise to prepare for other than watch how different officers deal with people. Learn what works and what doesn't. Training is more about learning what not to do than what to do. My best piece of advice: give people respect and they will respect you, your life will go easier in all aspects, not just work and not just working with animal control.

whereamitho2 karma

How did you become an animal cop? It is my dream job!

youranimalcop3 karma

Smoke too much marijuana in high school, tell the truth on your application for police officer, and take the job they offer you when you are denied. In the end, it's been a much better decision for me.

gunguolf2 karma

Ouch, I came here thinking you would be a k-9 dog master who would be answering questions as his dog. Anyway, what's the strangest thing that has happenned to you?

youranimalcop3 karma

Puppy peed in my mouth

youranimalcop2 karma

Taking a break, I'll answer back in a few hours. Thanks y'all

TheEthiopianPrince2 karma

How do feel about the increase in police brutality? I don't know the exact statistics but it seems like every few weeks, a new video emerges showing such violence. Also, what do you think of required cameras on all police officers?

youranimalcop8 karma

I think cameras keep both the officer and ciziten safer, the ACLU has filed a lawsuit against body cam use due privacy concerns, but it will likely be shot down.

As far as police brutality, I've seen most of the newer videos. I don't like to second guess officers usually but each party involved has the ability to escalate or de-escalate the situation. Not knowing when to use each tactic puts both parties in unreasonable risk. Police would find themselves in much less hot water if they tried a slightly more relaxed approach. Don't bark orders when you exit your vehicle. This creates a tension that can quickly result in unwanted behavior. Each situation is different and sometimes screaming is necessary. I don't think brutality per capita is increasing, the coverage of it is, whether good or bad.

ihoptdk2 karma

How do you contain yourself with some of the horrible things you see? I'm an animal lover and a former wildlife rehabilitator and I can't fathom keeping my cool with some of the people you must encounter.

youranimalcop2 karma

I don't get emotional while on calls, deal with the problem, solve what you can solve. People get what they deserve, in this life, or the next.

ThaGreek63742 karma

How many did you take home? I'm a sucker for cute and furry animals and feel as though I'd be tempted to be a save and give the ones without a chance a home.

youranimalcop3 karma

I don't have any....once you pop, you can't stop

kavindaweerakoon3212 karma

what was the saddest incident you've come across?

youranimalcop2 karma

See below

MildManneredJanitor1 karma

I've newly moved and live alone with only my beloved dog. I have always wondered: Say I end up in the hospital after a serious car accident. Do cities/counties have programs where they'd step in and foster care for my dog while I'm hospitalized?

youranimalcop0 karma

it certainly wouldn't hurt to ask. Most shelters have volunteers that foster animals for them so it could be a good resource. Also check with Red Cross. Good luck and I hope you have a quick recovery.

lunescence1 karma

You are an amazing person!

I have a minature pig. He is 40lbs (size of a 25lb dog) and I have had him for a year. He is house trained, walks on a leash daily. What is your opinion of this new mini pig fad?

youranimalcop2 karma

I think it's neat. I am not sure what is exactly involved in owning a pet pig but seems like it may be better than a dog for some people's situations.

360Marquez1 karma

In your opinon, based off what you have seen in the field of people caring for animals, what is the best breed of cat or dog for a college student? Factors such as limited time to train, a great destressers, easy to entertain, less money used in grooming or things like that. Also I seen that you vare really involved in this post thank you very much for your time!

youranimalcop6 karma

Go to a friend's house and de-stress by petting their dog or cat. College has its own responsibilities, adding a pet to the mix is likely to increase stress, not decrease...I pick up a lot of unwanted animals from eager college students that want to 'rescue' an animal but don't realize that that is a roughly 10-14 year commitment. But since you asked, cats are much more independent than dogs, so they require less of your active attention. I honestly don't know much about the difference between cat breed (stray cats don't come with paperwork), perhaps someone more informed can answer that for you. Small breed dogs would be better in a small environment. It's hard to say any one breed is better.

happystamps1 karma

What do you know about bird law?

youranimalcop1 karma

It depends on what kind of bird and where you live.

Faaip-De-Oiad1 karma

How do you become an animal cop? Is there a school you have to go to? Expensive? Was it hard?

Sorry if these have already been asked.

youranimalcop2 karma

No formal education required. Check your county or city website to see if they have any positions or stop by your local office to see if they are hiring officers. Training will be different but mine was 2 months in the office, learning the processing of animals and computer systems, then 4 months in the field with a training officer. Good Luck!

reckless_faggotry0 karma

What kind of animal are you and how does it help in apprehending the crims? Also, have you seen The Animal with Rob Schneider, and if yes how accurate a portrayal of your life is it?

youranimalcop3 karma

Close to spot on

thc42-24 karma

This animal police should be called "Cute animals Police". Why don't you go and rescue chickens from being massacred, aren't they animals?

youranimalcop7 karma

They are, until they are food

youranimalcop20 karma

I did seize 88 chickens/roosters in a Vietnamese cock fighting sting.

PlasticGirl1 karma

Where does one put 88 chickens/roosters?

youranimalcop6 karma

They each had their own carrying cases on the property we seized them, many of the cases were leather and quite ornate. We euthanized the roosters because they were bred to fight and could not be placed in general population. The most of the hens had parasites which we treated and we held them until a judge decided we could either adopt them out(we use the term adopt out for livestock but it just means sell) or euthanize them if their medical condition was severe.

youranimalcop4 karma

We kept pictures of all the roosters and fighting paraphernalia as evidence...There were rooster wings hung around the entire roof from previous 'champions'. There were 45 people on the property when we arrived. While searching the property, I went into an open shed were there was one guy hiding. I told him to go to the front of the property and I found a .40 caliber pistol behind where he was sitting...people...Although it's probably my fault for not asking if he had hid any weapons, my Vietnamese is a bit rusty.

lickmybrains1 karma

Do you carry a gun whilst you are on duty?

youranimalcop2 karma

no, I am not a sworn officer. Another reason why I rely on my ability to de-escalate situations. I don't have a partner and I work fourth shift (until 4am).

lickmybrains2 karma

It's impressive that you undertake such a dangerous job without a gun, do you carry a knife?

Do you find that working so late has a negative impact on you? I used to work till a similar time at a deli and it started to fuck with me after a while.

youranimalcop3 karma

I carry a knife, extendable baton, pepper spray. I haven't had any physical altercations with people. Others have been it's not common.

PlasticGirl1 karma

Haha, I'm surprised you answered this. Thanks!

...Did you eat the roosters?

youranimalcop4 karma

No, we euthanize with drugs so you couldn't eat them. Plus, it would just be weird, if not unethical, if not illegal. The bodies are then incinerated.