Support local journalism. Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club.

Holiday Guide 2009: Animal service officer 

When there are only 27 people in the entire county who do your job, and your job is to protect animals all over the county 24/7, it's inevitable that you are going to work a few holidays. So when Laura Tuttle, an animal services officer for Orange County, pulled a Christmas shift last year, it was no big deal, really.

"We didn't have any big, horrible calls on Christmas," recalls Tuttle. "That was a gift n itself."

Not to say Tuttle wasn't busy; she handled 14 calls in an eight-hour shift from 3 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. That's a lot more than usual.

The county's Animal Services Division operates on a skeleton crew on holidays, with one officer at the shelter and one officer out on the road. On a normal shift there are two officers on the road — one in the northern part of the county and one in the south — at any given time.

On holidays, officers only respond to emergency calls, like sick or injured animals, police who need help getting an animal out of a house, bites, etc. There are a lot of things that happen on a normal shift that Tuttle, at least, will overlook on Christmas. She'll probably be a little more lenient when it comes to ticketing dog owners who let their animals run loose or don't have rabies ID tags, for example. That's the county's little gift to you, the irresponsible pet owner.

After a relatively quiet Christmas, it was back to the usual for Tuttle. You'd be surprised how often that includes kids who shoot her the finger when she drives by in her truck, adults who swear at her and unknown people who chuck rocks.

"I thought it was going to break the windshield of my truck," she says, recalling that last incident. She even had someone pull a gun on her once. Animal control officers in Orange County are not deputized, and they aren't armed, so driving around can get dangerous. It didn't for Tuttle last year, but the potential is always there.

"It's not everybody's dream to work on Christmas, but it's fair because we get to rotate. It's not too bad."


We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 12, 2022

View more issues


© 2022 Orlando Weekly

Website powered by Foundation