Don't Call Her A Dog Catcher: A FOX 28 Special Report - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Don't Call Her A Dog Catcher: A FOX 28 Special Report

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Over the past month and a half, there have been some horrific stories involving animals.  In March, 21 small animals, including neighborhood cats and other wild animals, were found dead in an alley in South Bend.

Last month, a house was discovered with more than 30 cats and dogs inside, some found dead. We're told more are still living inside.  St. Joe County Humane Officer Sarah Lutheringer is there to help when animals are in need.

She was there when a dog named Tubby was dragged down the street by his owner. She says “His pads were peeling off his feet. She [dragged] him about half a city block."

Her day starts at 8:30; never knowing what she's in for or what type of animal she'll run into.  Lutheringer says she's found “an alligator at the shelter. I was dealing with an emu before winter. We had a horse we found stray. We did find its owner. "

Before she hits the streets, she gears up, preparing for whatever may come her way. Listen to the gear she wears. Sarah says " I have my bullet-proof vest, we have our utility belt, we are not allowed to carry guns so we have a bite stick, pepper spray, and most of us carry a knife as well."

On the day I road along with her, our first stop involved serving a warrant. The case involved animal hoarding. Inside Sarah found one dog, 31 cats with three of them dead. Luthringer says it's the most disgusting house she's you've ever been in.

When we were done there, we loaded back up, and headed to a home quarantine. In a complete accident, the dog bit a family member over dropped food.  Sarah says "According to state law they have to be quarantined for 10 days."

The family was happy to have their dog, as Sarah puts it, ungrounded.  The dog owner says “he's a good baby he is. He likes to lay on the bed."

We're back in the van and on the road. Sarah says she drives about 300 miles a day all over the county.  A of of her day involves stopping and sticking notices in doors for people who have lost a pet.

Every now and then, the unusual happens. We got a call from Martin's so we made our way to the warehouse to pick up a donation of 13 cases of dog treats.

Once the treats were unloaded Sarah was back on the street to check on a dog she knows well. Sarah says there were reports of the dog living in a crate in the back yard. 

She knocked on the door, but the dog owner wasn't home.  Sarah says “We'll drive by. See if we can find him. He has to go potty sometime."

Luthringer's passion to help animals stems from the first puppy she rescued. It drives her as she knows her line of work takes a special type of person.

She says "You have to be tough. Someone who cries over seeing a squirrel get hit or something, this is not the job for you. That is not the worst you are going to see. Nothing compared to what you'll see out here.”

No matter what she's seen or been through, when Sarah clocks out, she leaves with a clean slate for her next shift.

Sarah says “I leave it at work when I leave work. There are a few things that you think about. When I go home, all I want to do is spend time with my dogs."


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