Chatting up the dog catcher

Rance McEntyre has seen it all and then some in his 25 years with Kitsap Animal Rescue and Enforcement. He’s encountered dogs, cats, snakes, lizards and even monkeys and emus. McEntyre, now chief of Kitsap Animal Rescue and Enforcement, leads a team of seven animal control officers and enjoys helping the county’s furry, four-legged, and sometimes slithery, friends get off the streets and find loving owners. Chief McEntyre recently welcomed us into his office to chat about the wild world of animal control.

Question: How did you get involved with Kitsap Animal Rescue and Enforcement?

Answer: I was in the National Guard and a guy I knew, knew I was out of work and asked if I wanted a job. I’d lived here for a couple years already, but I didn’t even know we had a humane society.

Q: How did you end up in Kitsap County?

A: I came up here from Texas. My parents were semi-truck drivers and enjoyed the area, so we moved up here.

Q: When did you become chief of Kitsap Animal Rescue and Enforcement?

A: I was appointed as a lead in 2000. Then in 2001 I went to supervisor and it was pretty much a name change. I was named chief in 2007, but I’ve actually led the department since 2000.

Q: What do you like the most about your job? The least?

A: The most ... I think the saving of any animal. Doing and seeing rescues, the gratification, you can see the thankfulness in the eyes of the animals. Having well-trained officers and prosecuting people who do bad things to animals. The least ... paperwork is my least favorite thing. Everything has to be documented and kept as a matter of record whether it’s tracking officers or whatever. That’s the hardest part.

Q: Family, kids?

A: I have a 20-year-old daughter, Melissa, and a 3-year-old grandson, Austin Rance. They live with me. I really, really enjoy having them around. She’s starting to have more serious plans with her boyfriend, so they’re planning to move out this summer. I’ll miss that (having Melissa and Austin around).

Q: What is your favorite part of Silverdale?

A: It’s not a huge city life, but there’s a lot of diversity. From Poulsbo to Port Orchard it’s a different world. There’s lots of small businesses owned by different individuals. I’d rather support the community then a large conglomerate.

Q: Do you have a favorite hobby?

A: I just enjoy working in my home — taking advantage of little remodel home projects keeps me busy. I love working in the yard when the weather gives us the opportunity.

Q: Do you have pets?

A: A dog, Riley, and a cat, Laverne. I got both from here (Kitsap Humane Society).

Q: What type of training do animal control officers go through?

A: The state-certified training now that everyone completes is the State Animal Control Academy at the Criminal Justice Training Center. The requirements that I prefer are excellence in customer service, typing skills. The other things that come with the job can pretty much be taught here — animal handling ... I get e-mails a lot from people wanting to know more about the job. Now people look at it as more of a career than a job opportunity.

Q: What is the most common type of call animal control responds to?

A: It’s rather seasonal on calls, but our most common is animal noise. Dogs barking annoys a lot of folks and it’s not an easily resolved problem.

Q: How do you resolve dog barking issues?

A: Education first of all. We try to educate with good pet socialization, what’s causing it and then begin the process of elimination — bark training devices, like electronic dog collars, that we loan out as training devices.

Q: What are you duties as chief of animal control?

A: It’s typically the management of the officers, what areas they’re assigned to, taking citizen complainants, I’m a liaison to government officials, schedules, pretty much the day-to-day operations of the office.

Q: Do you still get to go out on calls as chief?

A: I don’t as much anymore, especially like today. I’m the supervisor for the entire shelter because their supervisor is off today. I get out once in a while and get a breath of fresh air I guess you’d say.

Q: How many animals does animal control come in contact with each year?

A: In 2007 we had 5,300 complaints. If things are kind of on the path this year I think we’re going to exceed 5,300 this year. Phone calls this year are up about a thousand more from last year.

Q: What is one thing you want to try in your lifetime?

A: Retirement (laughs). I can honestly say now more than ever that I think about that almost daily. People poke fun at me because I’m an extreme optimist when it comes to winning the lottery. So the lottery and retirement are two things I want to try. In my plan, I want to be here 35 years, so I have 14 years to go unless my other dream comes true and that’s winning the lottery, then I’ll go ahead and retire early.

Q: What is the strangest complaint you’ve ever handled?

A: My first strangest call was a report of a monkey loose on Bainbridge Island. I remember the call and thinking what were they drinking before they called. I went up there, couldn’t find it and left. They called back and said it was in the garage. I went up there and sure enough, there was a spider monkey up in the garage rafters.

Q: What’s your favorite movie?

A: I’m just a big fan of “Forrest Gump.” It’s got it all, the good times, bad times, he’s a down-to-earth guy and that’s all I got to say about that (in Forrest Gump’s voice). I just love Tom Hanks as an actor. It’s a good movie.

Q: Is it difficult to deal with the animal cruelty cases?

A: Yes, because people have so many rights but animals don’t. Sometimes we can get jail sentences or fines imposed (on people who abuse animals), but more often than not it’s probation and if they get the animals back it’s almost like a kick in the gut — you feel like you failed. We’re really well educated as a department and we can at least get the animals so even if they don’t get jail time or whatever they don’t get the animals back.

Q: What’s the most heart-wrenching case you’ve handled?

A: We’ve had some pretty severe ones. You know dogs that are left out on chains where their collars are imbedded in their necks sticks with you because you see the wound caused by the pure ignorance of a person. Dogs by nature are so kind, I don’t see how you can do that to an animal.

Q: What is the No. 1 tip you could give animal owners to keep their pets safe and out of the hands of animal control?

A: The biggest thing is to just always be sure where your animal is at all times. Just like your children, if they’re out of your sight they’re going to be mischievous, so keep them in sight or safe in the house or yard. And without fail, some sort of identification.

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