It’s National Animal Control Officer Appreciation Week

Gila County Animal Control Officers rescue dogs, cats – even javelina

Contributed Article/Courtesy Carol Broeder

GILA COUNTY – What would you do in this situation: a Six Shooter Canyon caller reports a hapless javelina tumbled down into a sinkhole about 20 feet deep and was unable to escape. Fortunately for the scruffy creature, Gila County Animal Care & Control officers arrived on the scene – and got an assist from partners in the Arizona Game & Fish Department to rescue the javelina – a process that took three hours to safely, and carefully, complete.

“A scared javelina stuck at the bottom of a sinkhole – as you’d imagine, that presented a variety of obstacles to overcome,” explained Animal Control Officer Manuel Riddle. “The perimeter of the hole itself was one, and the sinkhole was lined with boulders, concrete foundation, pipes, and tree roots–which all complicated our retrieval. Arizona Game & Fish Department tranquilized the javelina for its own safety–and ours as well–and we were able to tie together paracord with a snare that we use to apprehend timid animals–using a secure pulley system, we hoisted the javelina up, out, and relocated it to safety–staying for a while, monitoring at a safe distance while the tranquilizer wore off and it regained consciousness.”

Another day in the life of our dedicated team of officers and staff with Gila County Animal Care & Control; a job that can be challenging – but also brings a daily share of satisfaction and rewards with rescuing stray dogs, reuniting them with anxious owners – or helping find a new loving home for an adoptable animal.

April 9-15: National Animal Control Officer Appreciation Week

One of Gila County’s most popular and growing communities on social media is where 3,800 followers have helped reunite lost pets with anxious owners and find new forever homes for adoptable dogs and cats.

Contributed Photo/Courtesy Gila County Animal Care and Control: Animal Control Officer Manuel Riddle assists a javelina.

Here’s another good reason to like and follow that page, posts during April will spotlight each of our dedicated officers during the nationwide observance of National Animal Control Officer Appreciation Week and learn more about these officers and their work: Manuel Riddle, Anthony Puskaric, Tina Cummings, Jered Garcia, and Erich Kenney.

Could the job lead to a career?

Yes, just ask John Castaneda, Animal Care, and Control’s Program Manager, with 28 years on the job – and honored last year as Arizona’s Animal Control Officer of the Year!

Nearly three decades ago, JC started as a temporary officer, earning a promotion to manager. “Without a doubt, my favorite part of the job is when lost animals are reunited with their owners, and when the efforts of our staff are successful and stray dogs find new homes,” said Castaneda, a lifelong Globe resident.

“The job offers a good mix of indoor work at our office and animal shelter, balanced with opportunities to be out patrolling all the unincorporated areas of Gila County – investigating reports of stray or injured dogs, helping neighbors resolve nuisance animal issues – enforcing county laws. On any given day, our staff might investigate reports of animal neglect or cruelty, barking dogs, and nuisance complaints. We need job applicants who can competently interview residents when they call us with a report – and should have basic ‘people skills’ to talk with dog owners and help amicably resolve neighbor disputes. Animal Control Officers also write reports, issue citations and prepare court documents. Less frequently we need to collect specimens to be submitted to the state lab for rabies tests. And yes, there’s office work too: selling annual dog licenses, renting traps, and cleaning and disinfecting vehicles, kennels, and equipment.” 

Interested in joining this team? Gila County Animal Care and Control’s starting salary for an officer was boosted last year to $41,955 – and staff works from the new, state-of-the-art compound near the Gila County Fairgrounds. The minimum education required? Your high school diploma or GED will suffice. Read job descriptions and apply for Gila County Government jobs online at