Got potentially dangerous strays in your neighborhood? Metro Animal Control may not be there for you. Seven control officers are available to patrol and to catch strays across the entire Metro Nashville region. Even fewer operators are standing by to take your calls. I can testify to the latter fact based on my own frustrating experiences with them.
Flash back with me to February 2005 (I have not posted this on Enclave until now): I called Animal Control. When an operator answered she asked if I could hold. My mistake was saying, "Yes." She put me on hold. And I held. Boy, did I hold. I held for a solid 45 minutes before she came back on and said, "Animal Control, may I help you?" (in a halting manner that indicated to me she was surprised to find someone on hold). I told her that I wanted to speak to a supervisor about being put on hold for 45 minutes. She told me that she would have to put me on hold to find one. I interrupted her and got her to promise that she would only put me on hold long enough to find a supervisor. She promised and she came back on in a couple of minutes and told me that she could not find a supervisor. Long story short: on my own, I eventually found a supervisor in the Health Department to deal with the problem.
Flash to the present: on Sunday I called the Metro Police Nonemergency line to report a stray pit bull at my backyard fence menacing my dog; I asked dispatch to page one of the Animal Control officers because of his aggressiveness. Dispatch offered to send a police officer saying, usually Animal Control will not respond unless someone has been attacked by a dog. I told dispatch not to bother to send a police officer, since there was very little he or she could do without dog-catching equipment. However, I asked, "Are you saying that the only way that Animal Control will respond is if a pit bull bites me or my wife or one of my children?" After a few seconds of silence, the dispatcher said to me, "I'll try and page someone from Animal Control to see if they can respond today. But please call Animal Control on Monday to report the stray to them directly."
The only problem with that referral is that one cannot call Animal Control on Monday. They are closed on Mondays. All aggressive stray dog behavior is suspended on Mondays, I guess.
I saw the pit at the fence again this morning, so, I called Animal Control at 11:10. Their line rang; and then it rang and it rang; and then it rang and rang with no answer. It occurred to me that I had been through something like this with them before, so I let the phone ring and ring and ring and ring.
Their line rang for 5 minutes before someone finally picked up. They asked me if they could put me on hold without any other word. I obviously do not learn from past mistakes very well, because I responded, "Yes." Twice fooled, shame on me. So, I held. Boy, did I hold. I held until nearly 11:30 before someone else picked up and said "Animal Control, May I help you?" My first response was to ask why I had been put on hold for 15 minutes after waiting 5 minutes for an answer. She said, "Is there something I can help you with?" I replied, "Yes, but I think I deserve an answer as to why I have been waiting 20 minutes to report a stray animal to Animal Control." She responded that she had no idea why I had waited so long. She told me that she had just walked by the room and noticed telephones were ringing and no one else was around to pick them up, so she did. I thought, "Lucky her."
Allow me to sum the problem up: "No one was around to pick up telephone calls at Animal Control for long periods of time during their operating hours." Do you sense the gravity of this lapse? Thank God I did not call in order to report a dog attack because, between the February and December calls, a total of almost 70 minutes were wasted on me sitting and waiting for an operator. (Although I hasten to add that I did learn something from past mistakes, because the second time around I called on a cell phone, which allowed me to do some Christmas shopping while I waited on hold). How many other unanswered phone rings were from someone reporting a dog attack? How many more called in but gave up because of long waits with no answer or because of long waits on hold?
If you need help from Animal Control, you're not likely to get it. At least, not unless you are willing to patiently wait for operators who are not standing by.