All In A Day's Work For Animal Control Officers

This is a unusally slow day for Biloxi Animal Control Officer Jessie Walker. He has only a few calls to answer.

"Hello, this is Biloxi Animal Control. I'm here on a complaint about a stray dog."

Walker wishes he could count how many times he has heard that in the last three years. He is constantly on the road, helping all creatures, from raccoons to alligators to armadillos.

"On this job every day is different, so you never know what you're going to come up against. When I wake up and put on my uniform, I just go out and see what's going to happen," he says.

Gulfport Animal Control Officer Jim Beland's day was a little more hectic.

"This morning I had 19 calls."

Those didn't include the call about a dog on 20th Street that got away from its owners.

"The owners were trying to catch it and were chasing it down the road and it ran out in front of a car and got hit. It died on the scene."

Picking up dead animals on the road side is another duty animal control officers juggle.

"I never cease to be amazed with what I see out here. From people living in filth with their animals with large numbers of animals in a small confined area... or you see people starve animals to death or don't provide for 'em properly," Beland says.

Beland and Walker agree this is not a job for everyone.

"Somebody that really loves animals and is conscientious and concerned," says Walker.

Even so, it's sometimes hard to avoid getting burned out.

"Well, it's my job, you know, I have to, I just have to keep it together," Breland says.

Animal control officers have full law enforcement powers. They can charge and arrest people who violate animal ordinances.