Friday was a normal day at Glynn County Animal Control for Kali Boatwright, who fielded calls, dealt with walk-ins and answered questions from a reporter while bottle-feeding three kittens.
“I just like animals, honestly. I like taking care of animals,” Boatwright said.
While she — a newly-minted animal control officer barely a week on the job — fed one, the other two waddled their way around the small reception area, still unsure on their feet.
At the time of writing, all three kittens were two weeks old or younger. Cats that old pose their own sets of challenges. They weren’t even old enough to clean themselves.
“When they use the bathroom, that just kind of sticks to them, they’re so young,” Boatwright said.
None of them had names yet. Boatwright said it was a little too early for both her and them.
“When you have bottle babies, you never know what might be wrong with them. When you’re feeding them, you’re like their mama. If you name them, it makes it harder,” she explained.
If they’re properly taken care of, there’s little to worry about outside of disease, Boatwright said, but it always pays to be cautious.
“When they’re so little, you can’t tell. If you take them to a vet, they’ll say ‘They’re too small,’” she said.
As a new hire, Boatwright’s duties include a little bit of everything. Cleaning the cat cages, taking care of their food and water, occasionally cleaning the dog kennels, answering the phone and processing adoptions is just the beginning of it.
“On some days I handle baby kittens, like today,” she said. “It’s just wherever you’re needed.”
A Brantley County native, Boatwright said she gladly makes the 35-minute drive into work. Taking care of pets isn’t exactly something she’s new to.
“Where I live, everyone knows me and my mom as the people who take care of animals,” Boatwright said.
Her mother was an emergency medical technician for Brantley County who learned how to take care of animals out of necessity. After a while of nursing animals back to health, she earned something of a reputation locally.
“If they didn’t know how to get ahold of us, they would drop them off,” Boatwright said. “It just happened, because we’re such animal-lovers.”
Growing up in that environment, Boatwright said she learned just about everything she needed to know about pet care.
“I learned a lot from her,” she said.
When she got the job at animal control, she expected she’d like it. She was surprised by how much she liked it, though.
“Everyone was like, ‘Well, you found the perfect job for you,’” Boatwright said.
The shelter is still down one person, but Boatwright said the work is manageable.
“It helps that I really like the work,” she added.
So far, she’s popular with the rest of the staff as well.
“She’s great,” said Animal Control Manager Tiffani Hill. “A hard worker and self-motivated, and she brings a high level of customer service that’s important to our work.”
The county is still looking for a new shelter technician. Hill said she’s had some good interviews but wants to put a lot of thought into the decision.
“We’re building a real team here,” Hill said. “Hopefully, this is a group that will stick together for a while.”