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Community service officers keep Ripon shelter going

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Community service officers keep Ripon shelter going

Two Ripon community service officers, who have been referred to as “Cagney and Lacey” offer a playful pup up for adoption at the Ripon Animal Shelter. Elizabeth Forks at left and holding the dog i...

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

POSTED January 21, 2012 2:29 a.m.

RIPON — The love of animals is apparent in the “Cagney and Lacey” gals that share the animal control duties for the City of Ripon.

Christina Caro and Elizabeth Forks are pretty much a fun-loving team compared to the police women of the same name from the late ‘80s.  But these two women are community service officers who signed on primarily to perform evidence investigations from taking fingerprints to photographing crime scenes.

 But, with the retirement of the animal control officer some two years ago, the young duo took on the animal control facility operation located on the south side of the city near the Stanislaus River.

A radio tower next to the pound serves as best landmark with its large red, vertical letters spelling out the name of the city that can be seen from Highway 99.

Christina said she actually applied for a dispatcher’s job when the opening for community service officer became available five years ago.  She said her best experience with her felines and canine charges comes when she adopts an animal out to a loving family and sees the happiness and excitement it brings.

Both women initially served as backup officers for the pound master when he was not available to respond to a call.

They both have a warm spot in their hearts for a dog named “Maci” that kept coming back to the shelter after being adopted by a Ripon resident. 

 “She came back to the shelter three or four times,” they said.  The two-year-old had been adopted out by the officers at Main Street Days in October, but her new home was within walking distance to the shelter and to her new friends Christina and Elizabeth.  They agreed that each animal they come in contact with has its own personality.

Christina said the most difficult part of the job is euthanizing the dogs that she often recognizes to have such great potential.  Often times these animals have been dropped off by their owners because of economic conditions that forced them to move to an apartment where pets are not welcomed.

The two officers said it is really a hard time for Chihuahuas and Pitt Bulls because there are so many of them and the rescue operations are full.

The Ripon shelter is heated with heated water running through copper tubing in the concrete floors.  Blankets have been added to the elevated beds for the dogs in their runs. Swamp coolers are the order during the hot summer days.

The Ripon Animal Shelter has had its variety of animal including rabbits, a snake and turtles, possums, a fox and an owl that was found recently hurt near the Ripona Market.  The owl was transported to the Stanislaus Wildlife Rescue in Modesto where it was treated and kept until it was well and released back into the wild. 

The city no longer rents out cat traps due to the lack resources, Caro said.  She noted that a low cost rabies clinic is slated for Feb. 8 at the shelter.

The two CSOs said they scan the strays they pick up in the community searching for microchips that might identify their owner and a pet’s address.  If the pet is licensed, the city computer will tell them where the dog belongs and every effort is made to return them to their owner as soon as possible.

Caro said during the next four months they expect to be overwhelmed with newborn kittens.  “We will get litters upon litters,” she said.  The owners will often include a nursing mother to care for the kittens, she added. 

“Every cage will get full.  They have to be at least three pounds and three to four months old before they are adoptable,” she said.   

The shelter is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 to 4:30 p.m. except for weekends and holidays. 

 “If the sign says closed between 8:30 and 4:30 time frame it is because we are not sitting here,  but if people call the number on the board by the front door we will definitely come down and assist them,” Caro said.“We are available We are just not sitting there because we are doing our other duties.”

The shelter is also available on its Facebook page. 

As a child Caro said she had a Rottweiler and a Pitt Bull mix.  She grew up in Anderson, California in the northern part of the state.

“I remember Brandi – she was the Pitt Bull mix – and she was with me from day one,” she recalled.  “We actually had to put her to sleep when she was seven.  I still have her records until this day.  She was a good dog.”

Shortly after that Caro said her family got their second dog – the Rottweiler – and she was a terror. 

“Of course I had to pick the orneriest one out of the whole litter.  She tore up the back yard and we had 2x4s in the back yard that were made into planters.  She tore those out of the ground.  When she got through the front door where we had one of those sectional couches – she didn’t care who was there – she would run you over like it was a NASCAR speedway.  Her name was Doogie.”

Caro said she ended up giving Doogie to a friend that lived on a farm so she would have more space to get that energy out.  “After that my dad told me I was never going to pick out the next dog.”

Her partner Liz Forks had a German Shepherd they named Pandufa.  They had quite a few dogs over the years living on a dairy in Escalon.   From that original pet, those that followed were named for their fur color, Blackie, Brownie or Snowball.

— Glenn Kahl

staff reporter

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