16 The old-fashioned images of the town dogcatcher, armed with a net and chasing down neighborhood strays, do not reflect the extensive scope of services performed each day by the animal services bureau of the County of Monterey Health Department to keep animals and the public healthy and safe. In the United States, 66 percent of homes include a pet, says Cindy Burnham, Animal Services Administrator at Hitchcock Road Animal Services. This means animal services address a huge and sprawling need throughout Monterey County – a service area 1.5 times the state of Delaware, said Burnham. Calls for animal bites, aggressive animals, stray dogs, or sick and injured animals are handled by Hitchcock Road, alongside daily care for the stray and homeless animals residing in the shelter itself. This bureau remains the lead rabies control agency in Monterey County, the role it has historically played in the community for many decades. “I think the biggest misconception really is that we don’t care or don’t want to do anything for our community. Our community can be proud and trust that we will do what we can for the animals as we can,” said Burnham. “The staff here care so much and work so hard every day to go above and beyond to help the animals in the community and in the shelter.” Located at 160 Hitchcock Road in Salinas, Hitchcock Road Animal Services is a recent merger between Monterey County and City of Salinas animal service departments, forming an entity that can now be more proactive to face the needs of local companion animals and their owners. Hitchcock Road employs 28 staff and operates a budget of nearly $5.2 million. “(The merger) has taken many years, including during a pandemic, to work through but we’re excited to be a place to start to build an Animal Services agency that can really work for our community,” Burnham said. The gradual evolution of animal services shows an effort to offer proactive resources for scores of animal owners, as well as reactive support for animal aggression or to save and adopt an abandoned animal. “Now we’re working to be proactive with our community and support them to help keep their pets. Then our resources can be best used for the animals that don’t have a home to stay in,” Burnham said. “We want to support pet owners in the home as well as be there for the ones that really need us.” Animal Services 2010 2005 After E. coli outbreaks, former Environmental Health Director John Ramirez created an inspection program for agricultural field toilets, which became the industry standard for leafy green vegetable growers and shippers