pets. The unit uses the Chameleon database to track all
registered pets and rabies certificates in the county.
Something else the sheriff ’s office brought in when
it took over the unit was an investigative eye. Deputies
more acquainted with high-risk crimes and criminals
soon found themselves focusing on calls revolving
around four-legged friends.
“By tapping into that, we’ve been able to increase the
quality of life for pets and people as it relates to animal
services,” Wilson says.
Lt. C.D. Grindstaff transferred from vice and narcot-ics
to animal services. He works under Wilson to super-vise
the day-to-day operations of the unit.
“I’m a huge animal lover, always been who I am, so
much so I’m a vegetarian,” he says. “Kids and animals,
they can’t tell you what’s wrong. It’s up to us to actually
do our due diligence and do our investigations to bring
some sort of voice to the animals.”
Grindstaff works as the “thinking cap” behind the
unit. While a typical day involves emails, backend
databases, and a mountain of paperwork, he also strives
to constantly come up with new ways to improve. He
hopes to implement new projects like an online portal
for veterinary hospitals as well as a feline area at the
front of the shelter where cats can play and be socialized.
The unit is also tasked with making sure pets are safe
and well cared for. That means investigating all animal-related
“We receive complaints about anything from a dog
being left unattended, to animal cruelty, to puppy mill
operations,” Wilson says.
In 2012, six civilians handled all complaints. The
sheriff ’s office began to transition the staff to officers
under the command of Sgt. Steve Blissett, who trans-ferred
from the detective division.
“He’s investigated murders, kidnappings, some of the
most serious crimes in the traditional law-enforcement
sense,” Wilson says. “We wanted to focus more attention
on investigative-style enforcement.”
Through attrition and an existing investigator’s com-pletion
of deputy training, the unit now consists of four
officers and two civilians. It’s all an effort to go beyond
animal control and become animal investigators.
“Sometimes you get a call that doesn’t, on its face,
seem to be anything more serious,” Wilson says. “Maybe
it’s a dog that’s not having its cage cleaned out properly.
But, you go and investigate and you find out, well it’s a
puppy mill and now it’s a more serious offense. I want
them to be investigators, not just dog catchers.”
While animal control and investigations are the
“boots on the ground” element of the animal unit, the
public-facing component is the “hearts in the shelter.”
One of those belongs to Nancy Reason, shelter supervi-sor
for 22 years. She also serves on the state board that
deals with shelters throughout North Carolina.
Left to right:
chews a toy.
Breck Price pets
Riley, a 1-year-
cat. Erica Peter-son