Marie-Louise Corkhill is the 2017 ACT Woman of the Year for her outstanding leadership and…
When Zoe Roberts tells people she is a dog ranger, it’s often met with a chilly response.
“It’s not the most popular job in the world to be honest, it’s about as popular as a police officer or a parking inspector,” she laughs.
Funnily enough, the Macarthur resident was in fact a parking inspector before she took up the job as ranger at Domestic Animal Services, Licensing and Compliance, Parks and City Services five years ago.
Zoe says she chose to go from handing out tickets to handling dogs because she’s always had a love for animals.
“It comes from my mum, she’s got what could be a zoo at her house with all these animals and I’m pretty much the same – I own a Jack Russell cross, two chickens, two turtles and two fish,” she says.
As the domestic animals dog ranger, Zoe deals with all types of dog complaints, from stray dogs, attacks, injured dogs and reuniting lost dogs with their owners.
She admits it’s a job that often “tugs at the heartstrings.”
“Because we deal with dog attacks and have to take dogs and hold them at the [Mugga Lane] shelter while there is an investigation, it’s like we’re taking a member of the family,” she says.
“For reasons out of our control such as dog aggression or health issues, we also have to at times assist in the euthanasia of the dogs, which is emotional. However I can always be pleased by the fact that we care for these dogs and show them love that some of them may have never had. We’ve also got one of the best re-homing rates in Australia, meaning we are able to find loving homes for many of these dogs who often come to us in very poor condition.”
Zoe received on-the-job training, completing courses in handling dangerous dogs and dealing with aggressive dog-owners.
“It takes a lot of confidence to do what I do, particularly when you are dealing with dangerous dogs, there is really an art to it,” she says.
Despite the difficulties involved, Zoe reveals she has only been bitten once. Is she the modern day version of a dog whisperer?
“I think so –you learn what dogs like, what they don’t like, how they will come to you, that sort of thing,” she says.
“It’s funny though, my own dog at home is the only dog that won’t come when I call.”
Zoe says being the only female ranger in her department doesn’t bother her at all.
“To be honest I’ve always been one of the guys, so I can’t say I really notice that,” she laughs.
“There’s a really great working environment and everyone is very supportive of each other.”
Despite it being perceived as an “unpopular” job, Zoe says being a dog ranger is, for the most part, extremely rewarding.
“For me, the best part of my job is helping find surrendered or stray dogs new homes or when they go to one of the great Dog Rescue Organisations we have in Canberra,” Zoe says.
“Seeing a dog being brought in who has gone through a very tough life then leave to go to a loving home is the best part of the job.”
To find out more about adopting a dog from the Mugga Lane shelter, visit the TAMS website.