WOODFORD COUNTY, Ky (LEX 18) Potentially vicious animals aren’t the only danger that comes with being an animal control officer. Some counties are making bulletproof vests mandatory because officers have been shot at by angry pet owners.
"More and more animal control officers, are being assaulted and killed in the line of duty," said Elizabeth Cecil with the Woodford County Animal Control.
Just five months ago, Shaun Pfeiffer was accused of assault of an animal control officer. More and more of them are wearing ballistic vests. Elizabeth Cecil has made it her mission to make them mandatory across the Commonwealth and Woodford County’s Judge Executive is on board.
"John Coyle said ‘I’d rather you have it and not need it, than need it and not have it’," she said.
That is easier said than done, because ballistic vests aren’t cheap. In Kentucky, only the cities of Lexington and Danville have their vests subsidized as part of a National Grant.
While the vests are offered but not mandatory in Woodford County, it is a different story in Fayette County, where the death of firefighter Brenda Cowan years ago, changed policy.
"We don’t know what could be going on. and when we get there something that tragic could happen," said Timothy Brown with Fayette County Animal Control.
Brown said that vests are mandatory at all times. Cecil, in a written report, noted that only 52% of the agencies she sampled are providing vests for their officers. That’s even less in Kentucky.
"I think we need to step up a little bit," she said.