Hoonah volunteer catches dogs, fights neglect

Woman pushes for paid city position picking up stray dogs

Posted: Wednesday, March 08, 2000

Chasing stray dogs is Ingrid Boettcher's idea of a perfect job.

At the moment, Boettcher, a permanent resident of Hoonah since 1994, has three volunteer jobs: EMT, pet EMT and parent of a two-year-old. But she'd like to be a paid dog officer.

Boettcher has been angling for the position for seven months.

``I made an offer to the city that I would work for free for a month so they could see how much money could actually be raised by someone picking up neglected or stray or problem dogs,'' Boettcher said. ``They said, `We don't want you to do it for free; we want to hire you.'''

However, a change in city manager has delayed an actual contract. Boettcher estimates she could handle the job in 15 or 20 hours a week, on call with a pager. In the meantime, she's doing her best in a town of about 1,000 humans and 300 canines.

Georgina Glover, Hoonah's city clerk, confirmed Boettcher has the job.

``It's in the process,'' Glover said. ``The contract goes up for recommendation before the council on March 14. It's a pretty sure thing.''

Boettcher's avocation has also gained her the respect of Hoonah Police, who call her an average of three times a month to identify a stray or injured dog.

Since October, she has spotted three dogs with ropes grown into their necks. She sees this as symptomatic of some residents' laissez-faire attitude toward pets, which she describes as ``Tie it up and throw some food out.''

One dog could no longer swallow. Another was flown to Juneau for surgery, said Jan Gordon, executive director of the Gastineau Humane Society. She anticipates it will be ``really adoptable'' when healed.

Boettcher said she is trying to educate pet owners to use harnesses rather than ropes, ``but, as far as cruelty, I am not making a dent.''

She has also been setting up spay/neuter clinics every four months, and the visiting veterinary surgeon spays about a dozen dogs per visit. She is also vaccinating local animals herself at cost.

``I think I have made a difference,'' she said. And, if she gets the job, her goal would be eventually to ``put myself out of a job.''

Gordon is amazed at what Boettcher is able to do out of kindness and out of pocket.

``She has been doing all of this on her own,'' Gordon said.

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