There are many different aspects of saving animals, there’s medical, animal control, advocacy, volunteering and of course, adoption.
Perhaps one of the most difficult parts of it all, is working in animal control, they see the worst of the worst.
The challenges are never-ending and that’s especially true in Cheatham County. But the animal control offices, who operate more like a humane society, have a leader going above and beyond every day, with one goal: to save more lives.
Kristin Reid is the director of Cheatham County Animal Control, and her coworkers are always happy to see her. It’s as if they know, she is there solely to help them.
“It has been my life, it is not a job. For me it’s a passion, it’s a love,” said Reid. “For me there is just something so simple and important about the human animal bond.”
Her work isn’t always filled with tail wags and head-boops, cruelty investigations are an unfortunate reality.
The most common calls, Reid said, are for tethering outside in extremely cold or extremely hot temperatures without access to shelter, food or water.
There’s also extreme animal cruelty, like dog-fighting and cockfighting, both which have a long history in Cheatham County. Both, are illegal and heartbreaking.
“Those are hard to see. They are hard to watch. We know we are making a difference in that animal’s life,” said Reid. “Dog fighting is definitely in this county, those investigations take a lot of time and undercover work,” she said.
Reid is working with her team to stop cruelty and neglect, no matter how small.
Sometimes, it’s an easy fix with just a bit of education.
“People just don’t understand if you have a dog outside and it’s 100 degrees, they need a dog house. It’s also state law but most of the time it’s not people who are doing it because they don’t care. They don’t understand they need a dog house to protect them from the inclement weather, whether it’s really, really hot or really, really cold,” said Reid.
They also offer resources for people who need them, for example, if you can’t afford a dog house, they will provide you one. “So if it’s just a lack of resources and not a lack of love, we can provide what that animal needs,” said Reid.
None of this would be possible without the people of Cheatham County.
In a county of about 40,000 people and 307 square miles, they only have two animal control officers.
So they rely on people to call them if they see anything concerning, no matter how small it might seem.
“I always hear, ‘I don’t want to bother you or we don’t want to bother our neighbor or we feel bad for doing this,’ and what I always say is we can’t do our job if you don’t report it,” said Reid. “Without them being willing to be that voice and report it to us and let us do our job we wouldn’t be able to help as many animals as we could.”
Every day is different for Reid and her officers. Some days, are harder than others. But there’s one thing in particular that really makes it all worth it for her.
“When you take an animal from a bad situation and there is always that moment you see them take a deep breath, their eyes soften, and you can tell they are relaxed. That is such a special moment for me,” she said.
A lot of us feel helpless in this arena, and ‘compassion fatigue’ is a real thing, but there are things you can do.
First, you can adopt.
Reid wants to get as many people through their doors as possible, and hopefully that will result in adoptions.
“We have an open door policy. I invite everyone. this is your community. This is your home as well,” she said.
Next, you can foster. Fostering is a short-term commitment, but it undoubtedly saves lives.
“You are not only saving one life you are saving others,” said Reid.
Social media is an easy way to help, by ‘liking’ or sharing posts, you can help them spread their reach and get the word out about animals in need.
Another way to help is by donating your old towels, sheets or blankets. They will be put to good use to animals waiting on their forever homes.
And most of all, if you see something that doesn’t look right, give them a call.
Although Reid has only been at Cheatham County Animal control for less than threee months, her adoption rates are higher than ever.
“The average adoption rate before I came was about 9 or 12 a month,” she says. “When I started in June we were hitting an average of 30-40 adoptions. It’s still not enough because we have animals coming in every day but we can only thank our community for that.”
Visit Cheatham County Animal Control at: 2797 Sams Creek Road Pegram, TN 3714. They can be reached at 615-792-3647.