Thanks to a puppy’s hero

Kathryn SwanJ-C Correspondent
Thanks to a puppy’s hero

Kindness and professionalism never go out of style. This was reflected in a simple post by Tamara Walker on Facebook’s Pawhuska Community Watch page. Tamara asked who she could call to praise Pawhuska’s Animal Control Officer, more commonly referred to as Dog Catcher.

“This man went above and beyond for my puppy and my boys,” she said. “Then, today, he dropped by to check on the dog! He is a GEM!!!”

That “Gem” is Jesse Valentine, acting Animal Control Officer for the Pawhuska Police Department. Tamara was delighted when I asked if could write about her experience. She especially wanted people to know how lucky Pawhuska is to have someone like Mr. Valentine looking after lost, abused and abandoned pets.

Shortly after seeing Tamara’s post, I ran into Jesse. He explained that he was actually filling in for the current Animal Control Officer who was recuperating from surgery. Before his retirement in 2012, Valentine had worked for the City for about 7.5 years. His first stint with Animal Control was from January 2007 until February 2012. He began his second stint on Oct. 28.

“I forgot how much I enjoyed this job,” said Valentine. “I love this work. Even though it is supposed to be for 4-6 months, I’d stay if asked.

“When I responded to Mrs. Walker’s call, she and her children were pretty distraught. Mrs. Walker explained her family was new to Pawhuska and had installed a chain-link fence for their 6-8 month-old puppy that looked like a miniature husky. Somehow the pup managed to get fence wires tangled up in his teeth and piercing the inside of his mouth. He was hanging from the fence. Using my wire pliers, I was able to release him.”

The next day Valentine dropped by to be sure the puppy and family were okay.

“That’s the way I am,” said Valentine. “I also try to find homes for strays. I have three rescued dogs of my own. Each one has been spayed, receives annual vaccinations and City dog tags. (Chuckling) I buy the first three dog tags of the year. I have to set an example.”

Valentine noted that when many dogs are scared and trying to protect themselves they will show aggression. Sadly, several Pawhuska residents have sustained injuries from such aggressiveness. He also said several townspeople’s attitudes about his work changed for the better when he was able to abort a potential attack or find a missing pet.

“Even dogs with bad raps, such as Pit Bulls and Rottweiler’s, can be gentle,” continued Valentine. “It all depends on how they are raised and how much love they get. There was a time when Doberman and German Shepherds had bad reputations.

“My biggest concern is that people want dogs but not the responsibility. If folks would take ownership and responsibility, we wouldn’t have the overpopulation we have today in the United States. The SPCA, pet rescue groups and numerous humane centers are overflowing with unwanted pets looking for that forever home. I have had people come up and say they don’t want to pay any fees (for shots and spaying) when they can go to Bartlesville and pick one up for free on a street corner. Of course, that free pet is not spayed and there is no guarantee it has been vaccinated. That’s the attitude some people have.”

Pawhuska has an 8-stall pound. Sometimes 2-3 strays share one pen. Once impounded, dogs and/or cats have three days to be claimed or adopted. Working closely with the Oklahoma Rescue Rangers, Valentine was able to obtain outside runs for the city’s small pound.

“We never had this before. The Rescue Rangers donated the fencing materials. Another person donated most of the pipe and the Boy Scouts are volunteering their labor,” he said.

Founded in 2010, the nonprofit 501(c)3 Oklahoma Rescue Rangers is based out of Cleveland, Okla. This organization is not a shelter or facility. Its mission is to save abandoned, abused or neglected pets, placing them in approved foster homes until permanent homes can be found. For more information, visit their website at http://www.adoptapet.com.