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A dog catcher whose compassion moved a town

David R. Horn, who died suddenly on his job as a town dog catcher, left behind a lasting impression for how he cared for animals.
David R. Horn, who died suddenly on his job as a town dog catcher, left behind a lasting impression for how he cared for animals.
The Buffalo News

This dog catcher was a keeper.

David R. Horn is being remembered in the community of Lancaster, NY not just as someone who picked up the neighborhood strays, but who cared for them deeply, The Buffalo News reported.

On Jan. 7, with a blizzard pelting the area, Horn came to the Town of Lancaster shelter just to check on the animals. The 63-year-old died suddenly while on the job. He was found slumped over his desk at the shelter, where he had worked for almost two decades.

Over the years, Horn’s kind treatment of the neighborhood strays and canine escape artists - and even some of its wayward wildlife - created quite an impression on the town.

He would sometimes bring the homeless dogs from the shelter into his own home. Dozer, a female pit bull terrier, and Willow, also a female pit bull, were just two of the “pet” projects he welcomed into his life.

Willow, a stray found on the streets, always rode with Horn in his truck, accompanying him during work and during ice cream runs to McDonald’s. While he wasn't on the job, Horn enjoyed doing presentations at local schools and teaching kids how to care for pets.

He was a gentle soul with a soft spot for all animals, community members told The Buffalo News. He once managed to get a leash on a woodchuck so he could walk the critter out of a resident’s yard.

Some of the comments residents, town employees and co-workers said about Horn in the story:

  • “He was very passionate about animals and an overall great guy.” - Lancaster Police Officer James R. Muench Jr, a former assistant dog catcher who later joined the police force.
  • “He cared so much for all the animals. I know he was the best dog warden we ever had. Any time that truck moved, Dozer was in the front seat. It was hilarious. He’d said that she was such a sweetheart that he kept her. She was the assistant dog warden in Lancaster.” - Police dispatcher Carolanne Kerl.
  • “He just loved animals.” - Terrence D. McCracken, town crew chief for parks, recreation and forestry.
  • “St. Francis can take a coffee break now, because Dave Horn is on duty now. He was not just lip service; he was the real deal.” - Penny Prestia, an assistant dog-control officer.
  • “He’d come and laugh, knock on the door, and say, ‘I got them’ and have them in the truck,” - resident Ronald Zglinicki, who had two escape artist dogs, Bubba, a Komondor, and Camille, a Doberman pinscher.

Although it wasn’t included, Horn’s story brings another quote to mind:

“A righteous person cares about the life of his animals,” – Proverbs, 12:10.

Well done, Mr. Horn, in a world where so many people have no regard for each other, let alone the lives of animals that would have been otherwise cast aside.

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