At first, dispatchers thought they had a standard break-in because of the papers scattered all over the floor of a downtown Kansas City law office.
There was an intruder, but a much more interesting one.
When James Donovan, a special investigator for Kansas City animal control, arrived on the scene, he discovered that a wild turkey — misdirected after a bad storm the night before — had crashed through a third-floor window.
“We just don’t get turkeys calls in the middle of downtown Kansas City,” Donovan said of the April 2015 incident.
Donovan was eventually able to calm the bird down and remove it by wrapping it in a spare tablecloth. The bird had received a minor scratch, so it was taken to Lakeside Nature Center and then released into the wild.
Animal control rescues plenty of lost pets and eliminates many nuisance pests, but the officers have handled a lot more than kittens stuck in a tree.
Such as a deer recently rescued after getting stuck in a swimming pool.
Chris Harriman, who has been with Kansas City animal control for two years, remembers removing a hawk from a man’s bedroom after it crashed through his window. The story (and the photo of Harriman with the hawk) eventually made the online front page of Reddit and other national media.
“There’s my party story,” Harriman said. “The Washington Post called me ‘an animal control expert.’ ”
The officers go through extensive training to learn how to handle nearly every type of case.
Eron Dawkins said one of his oddest assignments came on Christmas Day. A woman in suburban Kansas City called in because a stray horse was standing in her yard.
He didn’t believe the woman until he showed up on the property.
He said the horse was just peacefully standing in the yard and seemed completely unaware that it had wound up in the suburbs. The horse eventually was returned to its owner.
Dawkins also recalled a time a family of raccoons was stuck in a fireplace of a house. One of them managed to get out of the fireplace, which resulted in a game of hide-and-seek between the officer and the raccoon.
“Raccoons are a worthy adversary,” Harriman added with a laugh.
The funny cases are a welcome relief from a job that is usually more serious. The officers said the summer months always have a higher volume of calls, mostly cases of dogs stuck in cars and animal cruelty investigations.
The officers agreed that their interactions with the public can sometimes be tense. They hope people understand that they aren’t trying to take away animals but just to do what’s best for them.
“We would always like to take a dog back home to its owner rather than take it to the shelter,” Dawkins said.
One of Dawkins’ fondest memories wasn’t an exotic or wild animal. He said animal control received a call from a woman who saw a dog run off into a nearby forest. According to the woman, the dog belonged to her neighbor.
Dawkins had a light day, so he went looking for the dog and, sure enough, found her tangled in the forest. The dog was happy to see him.
“There was no way she would have gotten free on her own,” Dawkins said.
Dawkins retrieved the dog and brought her back to her owner, who broke down in tears when Dawkins arrived. She told him she had adopted the dog from the shelter that animal control operates with the city.
A picture of Dawkins with the dog still hangs on the wall of his cubicle.
Miranda Davis: 816-234-4166, firstname.lastname@example.org
Need help from Kansas City animal control?
During business hours: dial 311
During non-business hours: dial 911
Animal control officers are on call 24 hours a day and are available on holidays