Animal services officers Dawn Morton and Ray Brown certainly deal with dogs and cats, but they also rescue wildlife all over the county.
by: Amy Carotenuto
Director of Philanthropy and Activism, Flagler Humane Society
Many local citizens may not realize that in addition to caring for homeless animals, providing a pet food bank and affordable veterinary services, Flagler Humane Society also oversees and dispatches Flagler Animal Services. Flagler Animal Services provides animal rescue, public safety and animal abuse investigations for the cities of Flagler Beach and Bunnell, and unincorporated Flagler County. Flagler Humane Society has provided or overseen these services since we became incorporated in 1980. We previously also handled Animal Services for the city of Palm Coast until the city took it over roughly a decade ago.
Flagler Animal Services consists of two officers who are on call 24/7 for animal rescue.
Our senior officer is Dawn Morton. Her expertise is in animal cruelty/neglect investigations, dangerous dog cases and assisting the sheriff’s department’s agricultural officer with livestock cases.
Ray Brown educates the public on TNR (trap/neuter return). He brings in feral cats each week for spay/neuter which is helping to decrease the number of homeless cats in Flagler County. He works socializing the young cats so that they can find loving homes.
While some Animal Services agencies just deal with dogs and cats, Flagler Animal Services also rescues wildlife. For instance, last month as a fisherman was casting out his line off the Flagler Beach pier, a pelican grabbed the bait and hook, pulling the pole from the man’s hand and into the surf.
Luckily, Flagler Animal Services was called immediately. Dispatcher MaryAnn Michaels sent help right away. Flagler Animal Service’s Ray Brown waded into the surf and grabbed the line. He then walked back to the beach and took the hook from the pelican’s mouth and untangled the line which was wrapped around its body. After freeing the pelican, he took her down to the water’s edge, released her and watched her fly away.
Our officers remove turtles from the roads, as well as snakes from kitchens. They help sick raccoons and injured bats. They bottle feed orphan rabbits and tiny possums. They catch runaway pigs on busy roads and bathe overheated horses. They have a duty and love for all creatures. That’s why they do what they do.
The image of a scary “dog catcher” with a big net and a paddy wagon like in cartoons is an outdated vision of Animal Services. Nothing could be further from the truth. Animal Services officers are skilled professionals with specialized training and more importantly a passion for what they do.
Reach out to Flagler Animal Services at 386-246-8612 if you’re in our area and you find a stray, lose your pet, know of an animal who is being abused or neglected or if you know of an animal who is a danger to the public. If you live in Palm Coast and have any issues with domestic animals call 386-986-2520 for their animal services department. After hours emergencies for both agencies call Flagler Sheriff’s Department at 313-4911. They will dispatch the proper agency to help.