Please share this article by copy and pasting the link
by Jim Campbell
Saturday 4th September 2021 – Vol 001 Edition 00013
Dog Wardens or animal control workers ensure that laws about dogs and other animals are enforced, which encompasses various activities. To begin with, dog wardens see that there are no stray dogs on the streets when they conduct regular patrols in their jurisdictions.
These patrols are an essential part of their responsibility since some strays can be fierce and end up attacking people. In this regard, Dog Wardens perform the two-fold responsibility of protecting both dogs and people.
It is unusual for me to interview two people in one occupation
I recently met with dog wardens Cabrini Desmond and John Colfer in the Wexford County Council headquarters to discuss ‘A Day in the Life of a Dog Warden’.
‘It is unusual for me to interview two people in the one occupation, but as John and Cabrini work together, I thought it would be great to hear from both of them.
From a young age, Cabrini was always interested in animals. Her first love was horses, going horse riding from a young age. She has spent her whole life looking after animals. Cabrini worked as an Inspector with Animal Welfare before becoming a Dog Warden.
John, from a young age, wanted to join the Gardai. After spending many years in Schoepp Velours, he worked briefly as a Community Warden before becoming a Dog Warden.
Even though it is not a twenty-four-hour job, there are times when they may be called out outside of work hours. For instance, if the Gardai (Irish Police Force) are called to a severe animal welfare case, both John and Cabrini may be contacted to attend.
“The moment we get into the van, we start work.”
Both of them start work at nine in the morning. Cabrini pointed out that they are on duty the second they step inside their van. “We start work straight away; we have the vans at home. The moment we get into the van, we start work.” John added, “The moment the phone is switched on, we are working. The phone starts ringing.”
In fact, the morning I met the two wardens, I received a text saying that they were running late due to a problem with two dogs in the New Ross area. John commented, “We could never make promises, even our appointment with you today. Our day could change at a moment’s notice.”
A Dog’s Warden day is subject to change depending on the calls that they will receive. It’s is not like other jobs where people know where they are going and what they are going to. The wardens don’t know what they will witness once they arrive at a particular call.
“We try and find the owners and have a chat with them”
Every day is different. The wardens work on the *‘Control of Dogs Act 1986-92.’ “The control of dogs. Dogs must be in control at all times. Then we deal with all the rules and regulations. For instance, dangerous dogs must be on leads at all times and wear muzzles. Every dog must be licenced. We deal with the legal aspects of things. Then we go to where sheep may have been attacked, dogs becoming loose, anything to do with dogs”, says John. “They are the normal ones, people ringing about dogs on the road: ‘I can’t walk down the road, I cant cycle my bike’. We try and find the owners and have a chat with them. Most people don’t mind, and some do,” Added Cabrini
“We have a day’s work without the phone ringing again,”
On the day I spoke with the two wardens, they called out to investigate about a German Shepherd loose in the New Ross area. After our chat, they were heading to another German Shepherd loose in the Enniscorthy area. After that, they will be following up on a case where two dogs attacked a female cyclist. And then they are off to deal with the killing of a cat in a public place. “That’s the day’s work now, more or less laid out, unless something more urgent comes in. We have a day’s work without the phone ringing again,” says John.
There is only one van covering the whole county of Wexford. “With a county the size of Wexford, there is always something going on. In the summertime, it’s the beaches, and dogs are not under control on the beaches. In the wintertime, you will be investigating attacks on sheep,” John said. “Then you have the sensitive cases where someone has passed away, and the family want the dog taken away, so you have to show a sensitivity to those cases as well,” added Cabrini.
John explained that it’s not all bad. “People come to us looking to rehome a dog.” The dog pound that the wardens work with is a modern building, privately owned. There is a qualified vet there twenty-four-seven who lives on site.
Both John and Cabrini love animals and people
“I love animals, and always love working with dogs. A lot of the work is dealing with people. You need to like dealing with people. Dealing with people is the most difficult part of it. You would have to be people-friendly. The two things I like dealing with are dogs and people,” says John.
“Every day is slightly different; you never know what you are going to get”
“Since leaving school, I have worked with animals my whole life, so I couldn’t imagine not working with them. I also love the fact that it is different every day. Every day is slightly different; you never know what you are going to get”. Cabrini adds “I like dealing with people as well; you are dealing with people expressing a range of emotions”.
Courses would stand to anyone but, hands-on experience is best
Advice from the two wardens to people wishing to become a dog warden? For young people, Cabrini would advise them to become volunteers with the local SPCA or veterinarian centres to get experience. “You can do animal welfare courses. They would stand to anyone but, hands-on experience is best—volunteer with a groomer from a young age for a few hours in the evening or at weekends”.
John’s advice is that if you love animals, go into a voluntary situation and see if you are suited for that career.
* “Control of Dogs Act 1986 (as amended)”. The Regulations refer to restricted dog breeds that must be kept on a strong lead or chain not longer than 2 metres, muzzled and led by someone over 16 when it public. There are 11 restricted breeds including German Shepherd, Doberman, Rottweiller, Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Akita, Japanese Tosa, Rhodesian Ridgeback etc.
All dogs must be licenced, microchipped & registered, kept under control when in public and the owner must clean up after their dog if it fouls in public.
My sincere thanks to Dog Warden John Colfer and Cabrini Desmond, Hugh Maguire (Environment Officer, Wexford County Council), Rev Conor O’Reilly for their contribution to this blog. Very much appreciated. JC
All Images and Original Text © All Rights Reserved-Jim Campbell 2021
About the author
Jim Campbell is an Irish photographer, freelancer and photojournalist. Campbell has being contemporary photographer for more than two decades.
A native of Wexford town in the south-east of Ireland, Campbell studied photography in the Dublin Institute of Technology before going to work with a newspaper.
Since 1998 he has been working with local and national papers in Ireland and the UK. His work has appeared in publications globally including newspapers, magazines and online publications.
In 2013 Campbell made his first of what would become many trips to the conflict areas of the world. To observe more on Jim’s work vist the link to his website below.