A Looks at the City's Animal Control Office

6d32f40ba742665cd426_bbab3852bb3cbf98fa224a51fd664bf5imag0162.jpg
From Paterson's Animal Control Case Files: A Raging Bull, An Alligator and An Elephant
fe428786730489a083ac_215129185b7d1f44dd950d8645f776afimag0161.jpg
From Paterson's Animal Control Case Files: A Raging Bull, An Alligator and An Elephant
7ea67ba9476587f47f33_a7a1c39e2a4645628fa89eefbcb63279imag0159.jpg
From Paterson's Animal Control Case Files: A Raging Bull, An Alligator and An Elephant
42f270541ce11f0e53de_6b39780af67859a732100f29faf983b9imag0155.jpg
From Paterson's Animal Control Case Files: A Raging Bull, An Alligator and An Elephant
72e5165e1fbc3863161c_0980c86cd71319167103cb340378d15cimag0160.jpg
From Paterson's Animal Control Case Files: A Raging Bull, An Alligator and An Elephant
6d32f40ba742665cd426_bbab3852bb3cbf98fa224a51fd664bf5imag0162.jpg

PATERSON, NJ - How many people actually know what animal control officers do on a day-to-day basis?

Well, for starters, contrary to popular belief, animal control units are not responsible for removing dead animals from the side of the road. That job is actually reserved for the Department of Public Works.

John DeCando, who has been head of Paterson’s Animal Control office  since 1975, said his primary job is to protect and rescue animals.

Sign Up for E-News

House pets, like dogs and cats, are the sorts of animals DeCando usually encounters, but over the years he has definitely encountered some pretty unique cases during his 37 years on the job. For example, one time he had to rescue an 18-foot snake that someone had been keeping as a pet. The snake escaped and was slithering its way towards the Great Falls.

Another case involved an alligator that was found in an upstairs bathtub during a house fire. As wild as those stories are, that’s just scraping the tip of the iceberg in terms of the tales DeCando has to offer.

“One time, I think it was about 1995 or ’96, Paterson hosted a carnival.  Long story short, an elephant got loose on 11th Ave and East 34th Street,” DeCando recalled. 

“We got a call that an elephant was roaming down the street, so of course we’re dumfounded,’’ he continued.  “Thankfully, the elephant’s trainer quickly made it to the scene.  He grabbed the elephant by the ear, and just walked him back to the truck.”

In about the same year, DeCando recalled, a 1,400-pound bull escaped from the slaughterhouse.

“This was a situation too big for Animal Control to handle on our own,” DeCando explained.  “So we got the help of the Paterson Police Department.  After following the bull briefly, two police cars cornered him in a “V” formation.”

But the bull wasn’t ready to let a couple police cars slow him down.

“The bull just muscled his way right through the police cars,’’ DeCando said. “Thankfully, we managed to get him down after using some heavy duty tranquilizers.”

DeCando’s favorite tale is that of Champ the dog. Champ was just three months old when he was found in Paterson on October 15, 2007, the animal control officer said.  The puppy had suffered burns on 90 percent of his body. 

DeCando’s had to decide whether to put the dog out of its misery. DeCando was unsure of what to do, that is, until one day when he visited Champ’s dog pound cage. 

“When I saw him that day, he had a ton of energy,’’ he recalled. “When he licked my hand and looked at me affectionately with those eyes, I knew this was a dog that needed to live.”

As it turns out, DeCando’s instincts were right. Champ is now a top-notch therapy dog in New Jersey, visiting schools and hospitals to inspire and entertain injured and disabled children.

In recent years, DeCando said his office’s caseload has gradually gone up. Why?

“In this economy, people can’t feed themselves. How can they feed animals?” he said.

Many times, DeCando has dealt with cases in which people have tried to unceremoniously get rid of their pets.  Just recently, for example, animal control rescued a handful of dogs from the Great Falls with the help of the Paterson Police Force.

Donations, including $15,000 contributed by Mike’s Feed Farm last year, help the animal control office feed the animals at its pound.

DeCando said his department’s budget is about $250,000, there are just six employees on staff.  Needless to say, they are animal lovers.

“Watching those kids come in and get their dogs, that expression on their faces, that’s just happy.  You can’t beat that feeling,” said Animal Control Officer Angel Martinez, a 12-year veteran.

DeCando and his staff patrol the streets in addition to responding to calls from the public.

In a given week, DeCando estimated that city animal control officer  rescue “100 to 125 dogs and 60 to 70 cats.”

“There’s not such thing as bad animals in the world, only bad people.  That’s one of my favorite quotes,” DeCando said.

Martinez shared that sentiment.  “You love the people you work with; you have a great time with each other, and you get to help animals,’’ he said. “What else could you ask for?”     

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Paterson

‘We Must Not Be Enemies’

May 9, 2018

Dear Editor

I want to take opportunity to congratulate Mayor Elect Andre Sayegh on his awesome election night victory and for running a campaign to unite all Patersonians. His message of “One Paterson” resonated with the electorate. I believe that Paterson's best days are ahead. He will govern the city the same way he campaigned, always putting Paterson and ...

Five Former Salesmen For Morris County Clinical Lab Sentenced For Bribing Doctors In $100 Million Test Referral Scheme

May 18, 2018

NEWARK, N.J. – Five individuals were sentenced today for bribing doctors in exchange for test referrals as part of a long-running and elaborate scheme operated by Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services LLC (BLS), of Parsippany, New Jersey, its president and numerous associates, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Doug Hurley, 38, of Hillsborough, New Jersey, and Kevin Kerekes, 52, of ...

Pascrell Signs Bipartisan Discharge Petition to Force a Vote to Protect Dreamers

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) signed a bipartisan discharge petition to force a long-overdue vote on the House Floor to protect America’s Dreamers.

“Thanks to a cruel act by Donald Trump and inaction by this Republican Congress, Dreamers have been living under a cloud of fear and uncertainty,” said Rep. Pascrell.  “I ...

TAPinto Featured Franchisee: Steve Lenox of TAPinto Paterson

This week's feature will focus on TAPinto Paterson's franchisee, Steve Lenox. Find out how the current owner of a public affairs firm went from a former State Director for Senator Frank Lautenberg to a proud TAPinto franchisee for New Jersey's third largest city.

 

Q. When did you join TAPinto.net?

I joined TAPinto.net in September, ...

Passaic County CASA Recognizes Volunteer Child Advocates at Annual Event

May 11, 2018

WAYNE, NJ- More than 50 staff members, volunteers, and board members from Passaic County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) celebrated the impact of CASA volunteers at the organization's Volunteer Appreciation Brunch on April 28, 2018, at Laurelwood Arboretum in Wayne. This annual event recognizes Passaic County CASA volunteer advocates and the difference they make in the lives of ...

PayPal CEO says Rutgers grads need to "Help Repair the World"

May 14, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Dan Schulman, president and CEO of PayPal, called on the Class of 2018 to take a stand for social justice as they graduate during a time of unprecedented technological and social change.

He talked about the decision at PayPal to rescind plans to build a global operations center in North Carolina following legislation many considered discriminatory against the ...

Murphy Signs Legislation Championed by Paterson Senator Nellie Pou to Give DREAMers In-state Financial Aid

NEWARK, NJ - Legislation co-sponsored by Paterson's Senator Nellie Pou (D-35) allowing students to apply for state financial aid assistance, joining nine other states nationally to make both tuition and financial aid available to DREAMers, was signed into law on Wednesday by Governor Phil Murphy.

The DREAM Act was a bill created by Congress to allow undocumented immigrants ...

Brownie Troop Donates Cookies to Paterson Military Food Pantry. Joint Effort by Great Falls Rotary and Passaic County Board of Realtors Continues to Thrive

May 19, 2018

Today was such a momentous day in the life of a Rotarian/Realtor and the perfect example of community service and partnerships.

Roger Fields, a fellow realtor and current President of the VFW post in Butler and his wife Joan, when approached by Brownie Troop 96521 Butler-Bloomingdale Service Unit regarding the donation of Girl Scouts cookies immediately provided them with my contact ...