For John Douglass, working in animal control offers all kinds of adventure.
Some days he’s safely impounding homeless cats and dogs.
Other days, he’s investigating animal cruelty complaints or conducting animal welfare checks.
The nonstop variety helps explain why he relishes his duties as a Pasco County Animal Services field training officer.
“I definitely enjoy it. You see something new every day,” said Douglass, a 14-year veteran of local animal services agency.
The job takes Douglass to every corner of the county as he responds to thousands of citizen calls every year.
He likes the fact his work doesn’t tether him to an office indoors.
“My day is sunshine or rain or whatever it is — there’s a different view every day,” Douglass said. “It’s never the same cubicle or the same desk or anything like that, so I would say what keeps me coming back every day is it’s always different. I’m not stuck someplace.”
Douglass’s passion for animal control hasn’t gone unnoticed.
He recently was awarded Florida Animal Control Association’s (FACA) Officer of the Year. He was recognized “for his outstanding achievement and strong commitment to providing excellent customer service to the citizens and pets of Pasco County.”
Douglass was recommended as a finalist for the statewide award by Pasco Animal Services supervisors. He received the honor at FACA’s annual training conference and awards banquet in Orlando in March, beating out other several animal control officers from other counties.
It’s not the first time Douglass has won the award. He also earned the statewide designation in 2010.
“You know, I just come in every day and do the best I can, so I don’t look for recognition and stuff. I just do whatever I can do every day,” Douglass said, following his latest honor.
“We’re all out there, we all do it because we enjoy it, or we wouldn’t be here,” he said.
Interestingly enough, Douglass’s entrance into the animal control profession was merely by happenstance. He came across a posting while searching for jobs online many years ago.
“It was just something that I saw and applied for. It looked interesting; we’ve all seen it on TV before,” Douglass said.
In earning the state’s animal control officer of the year award, the 44-year-old Douglass was noted for taking the lead on many special field services projects this past year.
One of those projects involved the outfitting and use of a new Specialized Mobile Animal Response Team (SMART) trailer to respond and assist in multiple hoarding cases and animal seizures.
The trailer is fully equipped with air-conditioning, electricity, lights and a generator. And, it has reduced the need for on-scene resources while increasing safety for the housing of animals during transport.
The trailer has been used to transport pets to nearby veterinarians for emergency surgeries. It’s even been used to deliver hurricane supplies to the community.
“I spent a long time working on that, getting people to agree to it until they finally realized the need for it,” Douglass said, noting it has been used several times.
And, it’s versatile, he added.
Douglass was also acknowledged for aggressively pursuing and permitting pet dealers, breeders and large kennels throughout Pasco. His efforts increased permit revenue and compliance in the county by more than 20 percent in 2018.
Additionally, Douglass trained two new animal control officers and impounded more than 400 homeless pets last year.
Simply put, the field training officer wears many hats in the department, whether it’s filling in where needed, ensuring the veracity of fellow officers’ service reports, or maintaining equipment.
“I guess you’d call me the handyman guy. There’s nothing I don’t do,” Douglass said.
Despite his recent recognition, Douglass isn’t resting on his laurels. He’s got other initiatives in the pipeline at the local animal services agency.
For instance, he’s working to develop a team of animal control officers willing to travel statewide to assist other communities in the case of a disaster, such as a hurricane — providing similar assistance response as the Pasco Sheriff’s Office.
And, yes, in case you were wondering, Douglass is a pet owner.
He owns cats, and dogs.
Published May 08, 2019
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