Animal control officer can’t always control her love for animals

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 20, 2003

When Sara Johnson was young she said she was not a fan of the dog catcher, fearful he or she would take her beloved pets away.

&uot;I didn’t like the dogcatcher. I never dreamed I’d be one. But I’m not. I’m an animal control officer,&uot; Johnson said.

Johnson, as an animal control officer for Albert Lea, battles the familiar stereotype of a dog-catcher as someone that doesn’t like animals. Johnson loves them.

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&uot;I don’t think you could do this job if you didn’t like animals.&uot;

She said being around so many kittens, cats and dogs &045; between 700 and 1,000 animals a year &045; is great. But she said choosing which ones to put down is the hardest part of the job, and a reason for burn-out on the job. Some just can’t be adopted because they can’t be house-trained, or aren’t 100 percent safe. Others have been there too long.

&uot;I try not to get attached,&uot; she said. But she can’t always help it. An orange kitten that roamed the animal shelter during a cleaning on Thursday became one of her favorites when he sneaked up on her and played with her hair.

She said that was it, she had to find him a home.

She wouldn’t have to make the decision if more pets were spayed and neutered. She said it’s something she recommends.

Johnson used to work in retail but wanted to work with animals. She became director of the Humane Society of Freeborn County.

She started part time three years ago as an animal control officer, and has been full time for about a month.

&uot;I had to weigh the pros and cons because it is a high burn-out job,&uot; she said.

But she figures she’ll be there until she retires, more than 20 years from now, she said.

(Contact Tim Sturrock at or 379-3438.)