Hometown Helpers: Animal Control Officer helps dogs, cats, and community

REXBURG — Every week, EastIdahoNews.com is introducing you to Hometown Helpers in our community. We want to spotlight firefighters, police officers, city workers, snowplow drivers and others who quietly keep our cities and counties running.

This week, we are featuring Earlene Outlaw, an animal control officer at the Rexburg Animal Shelter. Officer Outlaw has been working at the shelter for three and a half years.

“Our main goal here, is we are here to help,” said Outlaw.

She is living her childhood dream by working at the shelter.

“I volunteered at a local shelter in my hometown growing up and I just loved working with animals. We dealt with animals from all different walks of life. Ever since then, I was like, this is something that I want to do for the rest of my life because I have always been an animal lover,” Outlaw said.

Some of her primary tasks are caring for the animals and facility maintenance.

The Rexburg Animal Shelter is a division of the Rexburg Police Department. Outlaw explained there’s a common misconception about animal control officers.

“That we are out to kill people’s fun and that we are here to take people’s animals away and that’s absolutely not what we are out here to do. Our goal is actually the exact opposite. Our number one priority is to ensure the safety of the community and we do that by trying to educate everyone about safe pet ownership,” said Outlaw. “Our other goal is trying to keep pets with their families as much as possible.”

There are times too when her job can be dangerous, working with animals she’s never seen before.

“There have been close calls. Sometimes you can sustain injuries. It’s really important to remain vigilant of your surroundings,” she said. “I have been bitten before by dogs and cats and let me tell you, it’s not the most fun experience and I try to avoid it when I can!”

She explained the most common animals that come through the shelter are strays, particularly cats and then owner surrenders.

“So when an owner feels they can no longer provide care for their pet, then they bring them to us. We provide that service for the citizens of the city of Rexburg,” she said.

One of her favorite things about her job is reuniting lost pets with their families.

“I had one case where a family came in and they were missing their cat for like five years and they get reunited with their pet and sometimes there are tears from them and us and they are just overjoyed to see their pet. Seeing those animals get so excited when they see their owners is so rewarding and heartwarming,” said Outlaw.

Outlaw shows every day that she’s a Hometown Helper by keeping animals safe and caring for the community.

If you know a Hometown Helper that we should feature, please email andrea.olson@eastidahonews.com.

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