Dogs’ (and cats’) best friend

Lois Pantel

Photo By shannon rooney

Lois Pantel received a Lifetime Achievement Award for her dedication to animals at Butte Humane Society’s October Heroes for Animals Recognition Dinner, where participants gave her a standing ovation. Serving as Butte County’s only humane officer for 19 years, she volunteered her services, money, and heart 24 hours a day, seven days a week until retiring in 1987. She addressed complaints, gave advice, counseled pet owners, investigated cruelty and neglect cases, and rescued and re-homed hundreds of animals. Residing in Chico since 1962, she raised two children and has one grandson. She enjoys her quaintly decorated home near Lower Bidwell Park, where she walks daily with her Chow mix, Teddi.

What was most difficult in your work as a humane officer?

What disturbs me is that sometimes people don’t understand animals—they don’t even try. So often, it’s just neglect. Many people don’t intentionally hurt animals, but to me it’s abuse when animals don’t get any attention.

What was the worst abuse or neglect case you ever encountered?

It was 42 poodles and Maltese in a house with their mouths taped shut. The person who had them was an unlicensed breeder. We got a warrant (for the police to search the property), which was very hard to do.

What did you look for when you were re-homing animals?

I thought the people should be happy and the animal should be happy. I would see that it went both ways.

What challenges does the current Butte Humane Society face?

To get anything done, you have to shout it! You have to be on top of it. We need to be out in the public, and people need to feel we have the need to get something done. We need to bring the Humane Society into people’s focus again.

What are the greatest needs?

They definitely need a humane officer—right now they just have Animal Control. We need a [low-cost] spay clinic here in Chico in the worst way. The board is working on that. And we need a new shelter—the current shelter is inadequate.

What advice do you have for those currently involved with animal welfare locally?

You can’t quit, because the problem just goes on, so you have to stay in and do the best you can. And don’t look back.

What was the best pet you ever had?

There were three of them—three dogs. Heidi, Spider and Candy. They were so intelligent, so human in their personalities.