Alamo Heights Dogcatcher Angela “Angie” Marzec
Challenges the Stereotype.
Google the word “dogcatcher,” and more than 6.5 million links are found.
Angela “Angie” Marzec, the animal control representative for Alamo Heights, is a dog (and cat) catcher. But she is so much more. She says when folks call her the city’s dogcatcher, it gives her an opportunity to explain what she does: “I fulfill all the traditional roles of a state-certified animal control officer, like dog catching, bite cases, animal complaint investigations, tracking down owners to return the animals to, and more.
“But,” says Marzec, “I also do the rescue side of things, like taking photos of rescued dogs and cats, writing bios on them, holding adoption events, fundraising, humane education, shelter enrichment for the impounded animals and more.” And she does all that on her own. She is the Alamo Heights animal control department.
Marzec was born in Los Angeles in October 1986, but moved with her family to San Antonio when she turned 5 years old. She graduated from the ISA (International School of the Americas), a magnet school housed at Lee High School, where she was very active in ISA Leadership and many other activities. When she looks back to her high school days, she laughs and says, “Animal welfare was one of the only issues that I really didn’t do any volunteer work on. Where I lived in San Antonio there really weren’t any strays. So animal rescue wasn’t on my radar.”
But it is now!
“I was managing the Sonic Restaurant on Huebner and Stone Oak in 2006. One of the senior staff at the Animal Defense League was a regular customer of mine. One day she approached me about working for ADL,” says Marzec. To this day she vividly remembers her first rescue. “She was a pit bull, and I named her Olive. I knew nothing about dog breeds then. I knew nothing about the issues some people have with pit bulls. She was so sweet. She’d been hanging around our dumpster for days, and I knew she needed help.
“I locked her in the bathroom at my restaurant and put an out-of-order sign on the door. After work I took her home. Later, when I learned some people are afraid of pits, I got to thinking about how that breed was misunderstood and treated. It was the beginning of my career in animal rescue.”
Marzec joined ADL in 2006 as the foster and hospital programs coordinator. She quickly learned to love the work. In January 2012, she accepted the position as Alamo Heights animal care representative. “That first year in Alamo Heights we doubled the number of rescued animals,” she says. “We went from 25 dogs to 50. And so far in fiscal year 2016, we’ve adopted out 56 dogs and 30 cats and kittens. We also did TNR (trap, neuter, return) on 24 cats.”
She is proud to note, “We are a no-kill city. The only animals euthanized in Alamo Heights are done so because they are suffering so much and have no prospect of recovery.”
No two days are alike for Marzec. She goes from responding to requests to rescue strays to talking in schools and to community groups about animal rescue, to meeting with folks interested in adopting one of the strays she’s rescued, She told 78209 Magazine, “I love my job. And there are opportunities for animal lovers to help out. We need fosters, individuals and families, who are willing to take a dog or cat into their home while we look to adopt them out to a forever home. Fosters are a huge help, and they save the city money for boarding. And it is much more enjoyable for the pet to be in a home. Fosters do not have to live in Alamo Heights to participate in the program. In addition, anyone can also adopt from the city no matter where they live.
“Dog lovers can also help out by walking dogs or taking them on a Saturday to the Pearl Farmer’s Market to showcase them as adoptable. Taking them out of the kennel also helps socialize our dogs, which is so important,” she adds.
When there are not enough fosters to place a rescued animal into a home, Alamo Heights pays to board dogs at the Alamo Heights Kennel Club on West Sunset Road. Every dog picked up by Marzec is given distemper, parvo and Bordetella vaccinations. They also receive a broad-spectrum intestinal deformer. And they are all scanned for microchips.
To donate to the program, make checks out to Alamo Heights ACS. Checks can be mailed to Alamo Heights ACS, 6116 Broadway, San Antonio, TX 78209.
Supply donations can be dropped off at the police department or Pet Supplies Plus, 1248 Austin Highway. Most needed items: cat litter, cat food, dog beds, dog treats, dog and cat crates and carriers, dog and cat toys.
BY RON AARON EISENBERG