Animal Control Officer stays busy
By Robin Scott
Joe Hockaday, the City of Dalhart’s Animal Control Officer responds to calls from city residents regarding any animal that is out within the city limits of Dalhart. Calls include anything from a lost dog, loose cattle, snakes, mischievous raccoons, stray cats and horses out of their pins to visiting travelers whose pet has become lost.
Averaging 25 to 35 calls for service each week, Hockaday stays very busy. He generally is available during regular business hours, but often finds himself trying to round up a stray dog after hours. Hockaday has been Dalhart’s Certified Animal Control Officer for nearly three years. He took the required classroom training shortly after being hired by the city. He noted, “The class I took was very interesting, and I learned so much. I had to learn all about rabies, restraining and catching animals, and even different types of breeds of animals.”
As the Animal Control Officer, Hockaday wears Dalhart Police Department Badge number 240. Central dispatch located at the Dallam/Hartley County Jail receives calls through the 911 system and then dispatches Hockaday out to locations that need his help. Many of the calls he responds to are to pick up stray dogs or dogs that have gotten out of their owner’s yards. He commented on one incident that has always haunted him by saying, “A man traveling through town from Colorado lost his dog. It was so sad because his wife had just passed away, and we were not able to locate his dog.”
Hockaday shows a great deal of compassion for owners of lost animals. Animals that he picks up are taken to the city’s pound. He noted, “Unfortunately, we are not a no kill facility, and if an owner does not pick up their animals after three days, they must be euthanized.” Hockaday noted that people in the area may be under a mistaken belief that if they dump off a pet in town it will be placed in a no-kill shelter. He stated, “One does exist in Dalhart, but it is not the city pound.”
Dalhart has been Hockaday’s home for several years. He was born in Dumas and raised in Amarillo. He lives here with his wife and their two daughters. He commented, “The people in Dalhart are very good about calling if they see an animal has gotten loose. I try to make sure to get to them as quickly as possible, so that they don’t pose a hazard to people or drivers.” He also noted, “Residents in Dalhart should register their animals by purchasing the city license, and even consider a locating chip. Some people also put their information on a dog or cat tag for their pets to insure that if they do get loose, they may be returned safely.” He also urges pet owners to have them spayed or neutered and vaccinated as prescribed by their veterinarian. He commented, “Animals on the loose that are not spayed or neutered will only lead to more animals on the loose.”
For more information on licensing and other requirements for pets, please contact Hockaday at 244.5546.