Local man’s work with animals earns award

Published 8:24 am Monday, May 18, 2015

Citizens often view animal control officers as the bad guys — people who take stray dogs to the pound to be put down just for the fun of it.

Bogalusa Animal Control Officer David Kellis is not cut from that same cloth. He works hand in hand with animal rescue groups to help the animals find adoptive homes.

The Magnolia Chapter of the Humane Society of Louisiana, in conjunction with the Feral Cat Consortium in Madisonville, recently named Kellis the recipient of the 2014 Golden Paw Award. It is an award for the person who goes above and beyond in his or her efforts to save animals.

Magnolia Chapter of the Humane Society of Louisiana Secretary/Treasurer Kaye Grantham said Kellis was a perfect fit for the honor when the award was initially discussed with the Consortium.

“The first person who came to my mind was David Kellis,” Grantham said. “David is kind of rare. He has always been willing to work with us. His first thought is ‘How can I make this the best outcome for any dog while staying within my job?’ He is extremely easy to work with. If David sees a litter of puppies beside the road, the first thing he does is call us.”

Kellis has been worked in his capacity with the city since 2006. Kellis was unable to attend the recent awards ceremony last month in Mandeville because of surgery.

“I was surprised.” Kellis said. “I didn’t know what to say when I was told of the award. It’s an honor to be recognized. Animal Control Officers don’t often get recognized for the things they do.”

Kellis said he averages picking up 300 to 400 stray dogs in Bogalusa per year. The Magnolia Chapter takes dogs to the vet to get them in shape and ready for adoption.

“The Magnolia Chapter get the dogs 100 percent ready for adoption. State law requires adopted dogs must be spayed or neutered. They get their worm treatment and treated for parasites.”

Kellis said he enjoys most aspects of his job.

“It’s a good job. It’s got the good parts as well as the bad parts,” Kellis said. “The bad part is when I have to write a ticket to somebody who is not caring for their dog. When we’re overloaded like we are now, we have to set up the euthanasia bay. It’s part of the job, but it’s not pleasant.”

Kellis estimated he puts down roughly half of the dogs he catches each year. The Magnolia Chapter takes care of the rest.

“That is pretty good for a recuse group to be able to move that many dogs,” Kellis said. “There is not a lot of demand for mixed pits. They are hard to get adopted out.”

Strays are held for seven days before they can become legally adopted.

“I know euthanizing some dogs has to be done,” Kellis said. “You can’t build a big enough kennel for the number of dogs that come through here from the city and parish. Every dog the Magnolia Chapter gets out the pound, does help save the city some money.”

Kellis said he is glad to assist the Magnolia Chapter.

“There is a lot of satisfaction, especially working with the Magnolia Chapter group. It gives a dog a second chance to live their life out.”

The work never ends, according to Kellis.

“There are 10 square of miles of dogs, and it’s more than a one man job,” Kellis said. “But I get to get out and meet a lot of people.”

Despite his ample time on the job, Kellis said every day is a learning experience.

“You’ve got to know what you’re doing, especially if it’s a big dog. Pit bulls have the worst bite, but any dog bite is bad. You have to test the waters whenever you go get a dog,” Kellis said.