Andrew McKee is a licensed dog rescuer with a heart of gold

Andrew McKee with Papi the chihuahua who is up for adoption. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Andrew McKee is not only the Town of Lloyd’s Dog Control enforcer; he is also an electrician, a father, a soon-to-be husband and a licensed dog rescuer with a heart of gold. He was hired by the Town of Lloyd in January of 2012 after its veteran dogcatcher Jim Meyer retired. “Jim has taught me so much,” says McKee. “Without him, I could never have done this job.”

The two got to know one another when Meyer, who was only allowed to keep dogs a certain amount of time, would bring them to McKee and his fiancée Beth O’Dell’s rescue shelter. When Meyer said that he was thinking of retiring (although he still works for Marlboro, as does McKee part-time), he suggested that McKee consider applying for the part-time post — something that made perfect sense to McKee, who had been running the dog rescue shelter for three years.

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“I had to study Article 7 of the New York State Agriculture and Markets code, had to take classes; but while all of that has been helpful, I’ve learned more doing the job than any class could teach me. I’ve also learned a lot from Jim and Beth,” who recently signed on to be the deputy Dog Control officer for the Town of Lloyd free of charge.

So what’s the day in the life of a municipal dog control officer? “My main business had always been as a licensed electrician, and it’s still a big part of my life,” he admits. “But when I took on the job of being the town’s Dog Control officer, I’m honest with my clients: I tell them that if I get a phone call from the police about a dog-related situation I’m going to have to leave, but I will come back.”

Unlike most part-time jobs, McKee has to be available 24/7. “If I get a call at 3 a.m., I’m going,” he says, as he pets Big Mama, a pit bull that they rescued who had been badly abused and who little by little is warming up to people. “She would never bite you; she’d run from you! She was in terrible condition when we got her,” said Beth. “But she’s made great strides. She’s a total love.”

In his short tenure on the job, McKee has had to answer three dog-bite calls, five “dangerous” dog calls, 18 calls for loose dogs and somewhere between ten and 20 dog noise complaint calls.

Here’s how it works: Someone with a complaint or concern calls the Town of Lloyd Police. If they’re not too busy and it’s not a “dangerous” dog situation, they will respond, as they have the same authority regarding canines as McKee does. “But if they’re busy, or it’s a dog-bite or dangerous dog situation, then they’ll call me, as I’m equipped to deal with those issues.”

With a dog-bite complaint, McKee said that he first “insists that the person and/or canine that has been bitten seek medical attention, no matter how minor the injury may appear. He then finds out if the dog has had its rabies shot. “And I don’t just take someone’s word for it,” he says. “Rabies is deadly serious. We [he and Beth and their volunteer rescue dog worker, 14-year-old Alicia Lee, who wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up] have all had rabies shots because we had a rabid raccoon bite one of our dogs.” McKee then calls the vet where the person claims that the rabies shot was taken to confirm or deny. Once that is established, he talks to the victim or the victim’s owner and the owner of the dog that allegedly did the biting, and attempts to “mediate between the two. If I think it’s a ‘dangerous’ dog situation, then I can either commence a ‘dangerous dog’ proceeding or come up with some steps the dog-owner could take to ensure that the dog is contained. But all of this I run by the Town’s attorney first, as my job is to protect the Town’s liability.”

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