We are wrapping up Animal Care & Control Appreciation Week with a spotlight on Jamey Cantrell, President of the Texas Animal Control Association and Animal Services Director for the City of Plano.
Jamey testified in support of our humane tethering legislation last session. He is an amazing ally to THLN and to Texas animals, and we are fortunate to have him at the helm of this important association.
THLN: Why did you choose a career in animal control?
Cantrell:I didn’t. The career chose me. I was looking at going to school to become a veterinarian and one of the criteria vet students are evaluated on is their experience working with animals. This led me to get a job at the Humane Society of North Texas and after two years there, I was hooked and decided I wanted to work in a shelter instead of a veterinary clinic. I just felt like I could do more to truly impact animals’ lives on a daily basis here.
THLN: What is your favorite part of the job?
Cantrell:Just being able to help. It doesn’t matter if we’re helping people or animals, just being able to help is the reason we do this job. It is incredibly frustrating when we see a less than ideal situation but we can’t legally do anything about it because the laws are insufficient to address the problem. People often think we don’t care because of this, but the reality is we are often the ones who hate these situations the most because we only want to improve circumstances so that every animal has the best life possible.
THLN: What is the toughest part of your job?
Cantrell:We often see the worst side of humanity, whether it’s how a person mistreats their pets or how they respond to us while we’re doing our job. It can be very difficult to not allow this to affect your perception of how people collectively are. I’ve been cursed at, spit on, hit, and even compared to Hitler in a daily newspaper all because I was doing my job. It can be disheartening, but at the end of the day those who can’t say “thank you” are the ones that make it all worth it.
THLN: What are the biggest challenges and opportunities facing the ACO profession in the future?
Cantrell:The biggest challenge is the lack of understanding of what our core function is. The heart of all Animal Services programs is public safety. This means that we sometimes have to make decisions that we may not like simply because it is the safest thing to do for the community. Those who believe that we are heartless or without compassion couldn’t be more wrong but we have the opportunity to change the public’s perception of what an ACO is simply by being the caring professionals that we truly are.
THLN: Why does TACA support humane tethering legislation?
Cantrell:TACA supports the humane tethering legislation because inhumane tethering is one of the most frequently received complaints Animal Control Officers have to address. We want our members to have the tools they need to address these issues in a way that is best for the animals and their communities. Current state laws fail to do that and this legislation will help ACOs all over the state ensure tethered animals are treated humanely.