After 30 years as the Des Moines Police Department’s Animal Care and Control Officer, Jan Magnuson is finally hanging up her leash and retiring.

Her final day will be June 15, 2019.

Jan started as the head animal wrangler for the Des Moines Police Department on Sept. 12, 1988, and has been working with all sorts of critters ever since.

“I have always been an animal-lover – I grew up with dogs, cats, pocket pets, and horses (my parents were very patient!),” Jan told The Waterland Blog.

Jan was the City of Des Moines Employee of the Year in 1991, she received the Des Moines Police Exemplary Performance Award in 2000, was awarded the title of Master Animal Control Officer in March 2006, and she received the Wet Nose Award for being an animal champion from the Auburn Valley Humane Society in 2018.

And she’s been involved with more than just animals – she is past president of the Washington Animal Control Association, is an active member of the Rotary Club of Des Moines and Normandy Park, Puget Sound K9’s UKC Club, and the Des Moines Police Guild. She is a certified Peer Counselor, and is on the Peer Support Team for DMPD.

Over her career in Des Moines, Jan has dealt mostly with dogs, but also with (deep breath) ostriches, emus, llamas, alpacas, snakes, lizards, kangaroos, a monkey, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, rats and mice, hedgehogs, sugar gliders, ferrets, horses, cattle, donkeys, sheep, goats, pigs, peafowl, chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, eagles, hawks, owls, otters, a bobcat, a fox, raccoons, opossums, squirrels, coyotes, seals, a sea lion, and even a bear!

And what does she think about dealing with all these animals?

“I feel that wildlife was here first – we moved into THEIR home territory, so we should try to co-exist with them as long as it is safe,” she said.

And Jan’s dealt with her share of difficult dogs too.

“If a person understands canine behavior and can assess why the dog is doing what it is doing, then we can act/react humanely and accordingly,” she said. “I can handle any dog, but it can be the dog OWNERS that can be a challenge – it is not ever really a dog’s fault when something bad happens – we as their owners have the responsibility to take proper care of our dogs and make sure they are healthy and safe, and that they are not a danger to others.”

Jan has owned a pet supply and grooming shop, and has managed a boarding, training, and grooming kennel. She has worked with veterinarians, other dog trainers, U.S. Customs narcotic detection canine officers, and Port of Seattle Police explosive detection canine officers.

She has worked and trained dogs in Rally Obedience, Advanced Obedience, Conformation, Agility, Tracking, Herding, Personal Protection, Schutzhund/K9, and Therapy Dog.

Jan has attained on her dogs:

  • 28 Obedience/Performance titles
  • 6 Therapy Dog certifications
  • 13 Champion titles
  • 8 Best-In-Show awards
  • 8 Reserve Best-In-Show awards
  • 5 Altered Best-In-Show awards
  • 11 Altered Reserve Best-In-Show awards
  • One High-In-Trial

“It has been an honor to be your Animal Care and Control Officer for all these years, and to be working with an awesome group of folks at DMPD, and in our other city departments as well,” she said. “And I have also enjoyed working will all the wonderful law enforcement, fire staff, dispatch, records, and others, in agencies all over Washington and beyond!”

One she officially retires, Jan will assist in the transition for a new Animal Control Officer.

“I will certainly miss seeing you all on a daily basis, but as mentioned, I am sure I will see you around town soon…in my tank top, shorts and flip flops!”