Cass County celebrates Animal Care, Control Week

Published 9:11 am Thursday, April 18, 2019

CASSOPOLIS — The energetic sound of barking dogs fills the air like white noise to 27-year Cass County Animal Control veteran Ronald Butts. The director, at ease in the otherwise chaotic scene, shares the many ways animal care and control is important to Cass County.

National Animal Care and Control Week is April 14 through April 20, and Cass County officers are doing their part to bring awareness to the importance of their job.

“Animal care and control is important because it is a health and safety issue. We are here for the benefit of the public, enforcing the laws, promoting healthy pets,” Butts said.

Part of what makes the Cass County Animal Control officers so successful is their direct connection with the sheriff’s office, according to Sherriff Richard Behnke. While it is not common for animal control to fall under the guise of the sheriff’s department, in Cass County it does, and it works well for them.

“We find that works well. We work so close together when officers find these situations and they can easily connect with animal control,” Behnke said. “To have those experts [in animal control] working closely with law enforcement is important.”

Hundreds of animals come into the shelter each year. Many are reunited with their families, some find new local families and others find their forever homes outside of Cass County. Thanks to a partnership with other shelters and rescues in the state of Michigan, Butts said they are able to find homes for un-adopted pets with other families in Michigan.

“Nearly 30 years ago when I started we were ‘dog catchers.’ Now, our animal control officers are helping animals [by] removing them from abusive situations, finding them forever homes, reuniting them with their families, or just helping to find resources to get pets spayed or neutered,” Butts said.

Behnke and Butts agree that it is in the best interest of the pet to get them spayed or neutered and properly licensed.

“We’re not the bad guy. We want to help reunite lost pets with their families and help to decrease the pet population by encouraging spaying and neutering,” Butts said.

One of the ways the animal control department is helping families keep their pets safe is a new website feature that allows owners to register their pets with photos and also post them as lost, should the occasion ever arise.

Butts explained that when pet owners register their pets with a photo on the animal control site, those photos are available to officers in the field. When officers are called to a situation where there is a loose pet, the first thing they are able to do is check their own website and see if they can find a match.

“The goal is to reunite families with pets,” Behnke said.

Another way pets can be reunited with their families is to have them micro-chipped, something both Behnke and Butts have done on their own personal pets.

“Officers are able to easily scan for the chip, get the data and reunite pets,” Butts said.

Along with keeping pets safe, Butts would like to encourage all pet owners to get their pets spayed or neutered. To help with the costs, the Animal Control Center offers any county resident a $50 voucher to use towards the spaying and neutering at the Cass County vet of their choice.

“We offer an assistance program where any resident of Cass County can apply for a $50 coupon to use at nearly all the veterinarians to get their pet spayed or neutered,” Butts said.

Cass County residents can print off the application from Animal Control’s website,, or by stopping by their office, 323 M-62, Cassopolis.

“Animals have been a major part of my life, all my life,” Butts said. “After a long day at work, there’s nothing better than giving the dog a good scratch behind the ear. It’s therapeutic.”