Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Those of you who enjoyed the wilder stories of animal control days will be pleased to know that there is a growing circle of emergency medical response teams who blog and that they enjoy the same kind of exposure to the ridiculous and the deadly as animal control officers. If you start with “,” you’ll find links to others and can lilypad your way through extraordinary tales told with pride, anguish and sometimes tongue in cheek.

I first came to this circle though because of a story “ambulance driver” told about responding to a desperate call regarding an elderly couple living out in the country who had been attacked in a deadly way. When the EMTs arrived, the old people were on the ground

I found myself kneeling on blood-soaked ground, tending an elderly woman who did not yet realize she was dead. Her husband already was, ripped from stem to stern like a victim from a slasher movie. I'll spare you the gory details, but suffice it to say that it appeared their assailant had wielded something like a cross between a machete and a potato masher. In dry medical prose, their injuries were Inconsistent With Life.

He goes on to describe the assailant: an irate male ostrich. When I went to interview Los Angeles Animal Control, their Special Officer, a former Marine who had intended to mark time until a police position came open but got too fascinated to leave, told me that the animal they all feared the most was an ostrich. When the theory was proposed that birds were the last of the dinosaurs, all it took was one look at the work of an ostrich to deduce that the theory was absolute fact.

This whole ostrich story is amazing, though the EMT’s missed the main action when the deputy sheriffs were surrounded and advanced upon by the ostrich, which they shot. This technique won’t work in populated areas. The LAAC guy told me they finally located someone who could use bolas, those Argentinian three balls on strings, and he gave them some lessons plus his phone number. That’s LA: you can find any talent in that town. In fact, in the early days the animal control officers -- at least in the winter --tended to be rodeo cowboys looking for work in a warm climate.

Here’s a second animal control story that isn’t about formal AC officers.

Officers Use Taser to Free Tangled Deer

CANBY, Ore. - Confronted with a deer whose antlers were tangled in a rope swing at a rural home, two officers saw no good choices. They weren't about to try to free the animal themselves. It weighed several hundred pounds and was thrashing wildly. A bullet in the skull seemed the alternative.

"They thought they were going to have to kill it out of compassion," Lt. Jim Strovink of the Clackamas County sheriff's office said Wednesday. "It was going to die a slow, agonizing death."

Then Deputy Jeff Miller thought of the stun gun, commonly called a Taser, after its maker, used to immobilize out-of-control prisoners or suspects.


The deer stopped moving. The officers, one a sheriff's deputy, the other a state trooper, untangled the rope, which was dangling from a tree limb, and freed the buck.

Not long after, the deer "took off happy as a clam," Strovink said. "That was pretty good thinking."

I’m on the list for National Animal Control Association inquiries about various techniques, equipment, and so on. The most common questions seem to be about tasers, pepper spray, and even guns. When I was an officer, we had to qualify on a rifle range, but we rarely used guns and never carried them except for some special reason. Didn’t carry spray and hadn’t heard of Tasers. In the city there was generally a police officer or deputy close enough to do any shooting necessary, but deadly force is no joke and even sprays and Tasers have the potential to turn into emergency EMT calls, maybe on behalf of the person wielding the spray or stun gun. Conditions need to be right -- the wind not blowing in one’s own face -- and one must be in total control. Anyway, there’s always the chance that when you use the Taser to stop a knothead, you might stop his or her heart forever.

Still, that worked pretty slick on the deer and it might work on an ostrich in case you’ve never had any bola lessons or don’t happen to be carrying bolas under your car seat.

The bottom line on these stories, to my mind, is that emergency responders need to be cooperators and quick thinkers, no matter what the problem is. One of Ambulance Driver’s latest posts is about an emergency in a strip club, where there was probably a lot more response than the emergency called for. I never did get a call to a strip club, but I did go pick up a dog at a massage parlor once. It was a little fluffy white poodle. The girl in the leopard print negligee told me they found it in the rain, all muddy and forlorn. The girl in the flame red babydolls said they gave it a nice bubble bath. And the girl in the black lace bra and panty set told me they blew it dry. There was a pause. Then we all laughed.

I’m not sure whether the dog was happy as a clam. I’ve always wondered how one knows when a clam is happy. When it’s escaped, I guess.

1 comment:

AnimalControlEnthusiast said...

WOW! These are some great stories. Thanks for sharing them.