Working for Blue: KC animal control officer threatened with gun while on the job

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It started as a simple case of a dog running at large and quickly escalated.

An officer with KCMO Animal Control was threatened with a gun, and the only protection he had on him was a can of pepper spray.

According to the National Animal Care and Control Association, animal control officers are four times more likely to have contact with dangerous individuals than other law enforcement officers.

Unfortunately, animal control officers are typically not issued protective gear.

Investigator James Donovan typically receives 20-25 calls a day. On Saturday, he responded to a call near 24th and Chelsea.

"It was just a simple dog running at large case that snowballed very, very fast," Donovan said.

James Donovan

The discussion with the dog owner became much more serious when a second man approached him and reached for his gun on his waistband.

"I wanted to get as far away from this individual with a gun as possible. He then picked up the gun and pointed it at me and threatened to shoot me all over the piece of paper," Donovan said.

The man eventually grabbed Donovan's paper with his license plate information before running off.

"I have run through the scenarios -- what could I have done differently -- over 1,000 times in my head," he said.

Donovan said he did everything right and followed the protocol he learned in his training. However, without protective gear, he didn't feel safe or protected.

"It would have given me comfort knowing if I had been shot, the bullet may have been stopped," Donovan said.

Days before the incident, FOX4 shadowed Donovan to see firsthand the dangers he faces on the job. He said this wasn't the first time he has felt like he was in danger.

"Me personally, I've been shot at, had knives pulled on me, and we've actually been assaulted by citizens who want to fight over an animal," Donovan said.

KC's animal control officers are hoping you'll help protect them.

FOX4 is partnering with SHIELD 616 to raise money to purchase protective gear for our local law enforcement agencies, including KC animal control.

You can go online and make your pledge NOW. Then join FOX4 for an all-day telethon Thursday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. where we hope to raise even more.

Every dollar counts and will make a difference.