of the litter: Rocky Taylor honored by Hyde Park as best
of Utah animal control officers
By Brad Plothow
February 10, 2006 | HYDE PARK -- North Park Police
Chief Kim Hawkes presented Rocky Taylor with the highest
state award for animal control officers during the opening
minutes of Hyde Park's City Council meeting Wednesday.
"I'll give you a speech," Taylor told Mayor Dave Kooyman
after accepting Utah's 2005 Animal Control Officer of
the Year award. "It's too bad that I have to take your
money for doing something I enjoy so much."
That zeal is what distinguished Taylor, a five-year
veteran of Tri-City Animal Control, from award candidates
from all over the state, Kooyman said. "We appreciate
what you've done," the mayor said. "After having you,
we've gotten more positive response (from the community)."
Hawkes nominated Taylor for the award, which is presented
annually by the Utah Animal Control Officers Association.
Wednesday's presentation lasted only a few minutes,
and it was the last stop for Taylor's award -- a gold-lettered
plaque -- before he took it home. In the past week,
Hawkes has announced Taylor's accolade at council meetings
in North Logan and Smithfield, which along with Hyde
Park make up Tri-City Animal Control's jurisdiction.
In his final remarks to the council, Taylor refuted
Kooyman's rumor of his impending retirement. He said
he has contemplated ending his career -- which included
20 years as a probation parole officer in Ogden and
five years as a credit bureau manager in Brigham City
-- but he said he isn't ready to slow down yet.
"He has to keep supporting me in the way I've become
accustomed," said Valoy Taylor, Rocky's wife.
In the chamber, the council discussed amending chapters
16, 17 and 18 of the city's zoning ordinance. In the
foyer outside the chamber, Rocky recounted dog bites,
skunk attacks and other animal run-ins during his career.
Rocky said he donated a rare spotted skunk to Utah
State University after one of his many encounters with
the notoriously stinky things. He trapped the critter
after responding to a call that a badger had made a
home in the wheel well of someone's car.
"It wasn't a badger," Rocky said of the skunk, which
he tranquilized to prevent a repeat of the smelly, and
painful, encounter he had while trying to free a skunk
from a trap. "I got sprayed once, and that was once
too many. That skunk (in the trap) was trigger-happy.
He was in a bad mood."
Rocky said he learned how potent skunks' foul-smelling
spray can be while still a child. "You can milk a skunk.
I milked the musk into a squirt gun, and it was so strong
that it fused the plastic firing mechanism," Rocky said.
Rocky said he was never afraid to deal with animals,
including the one that left a scar on his left leg.
"I think it was a poodle," Rocky said of the little,
white dog that bit him. "It just pinched me. It didn't
The little dog was not the animal Rocky was concerned
with at the time. He was responding to a call that a
stray had wandered into a residential yard that housed
two domestic dogs -- the little, white one and a 3-foot-tall
"They had a system worked out," Valoy said of the
pair. The schnauzer distracted Rocky while the smaller
dog snuck up from behind and nipped, he said.
Rocky said he responded to an average of 126 calls
each month in 2005. On he received his award, Rocky
said he had two calls to collect stray dogs, a barking
complaint and a report of a dead deer.
Valoy said her husband edged out competitors for the
award due to his compassion for animals and his knack
for dealing with the public.
"He's a very unusual animal control officer," Valoy
said. "His goal is to save animals, to find them a home
if he can't find the owner."
Rocky said his job is as much about people as it is
about animals. He said he had worked to soothe tensions
between neighbors over loud pets, and even literally
helped mend a fence that a neighbor's animal ruined.
"I've been able to reconcile neighbors who haven't
spoken to each other for years," Rocky said.
"And he's humble, too," Valoy said jokingly of her