If you’ve lived in Council Bluffs for more than a few years, I’m guessing you have encountered Dadie File. Most likely it’s because of her long career helping animals and their owners in the city, but she claims it’s due to her stint working at Mortensen’s Grocery Store. Looking back fondly on her days there, she credits that job for meeting some great people. And while she’s been known to forget someone’s name, she rarely forgets a face. She also possesses an uncanny ability to remember locations, homes, the spot with the best Chinese food in town and animals; a skill very useful as an animal control officer. Her name is tricky, and most people get it wrong. It’s pronounced like “Dottie”, but she’ll answer to ‘Dog Catcher Lady’ and, if in the right mood, even ‘Hey you” will work.
Time travel back to the 1960s, would have you meet a young Ms. File. She shared the limelight with three sisters and four brothers and, yes, Dadie was the baby of the family. It was obvious she’d end up with a career working with animals. She fondly remembers a childhood where every stray dog and cat was ‘HERS’ and recalls hiding behind a tree with her pet goose as the animal catcher drove by so she wouldn’t lose her beloved bird. With encouragement from her sister Kathy and her own persistence, she graduated in 1984 as a veterinary technician from the Omaha College of Health Careers.
Unfortunately, at the time of her graduation, the field was thick with vet techs. Sometimes, however, fate puts you in the right place at the right time. Luckily for Dadie, the simple act of helping an animal control officer load a neighborhood dog into their truck, landed her a new career where she could utilize her newly learned animal skills. So, that same year, she became an employee with the City of Council Bluffs as ACO No. 2. A fan of practical jokes, she’s been involved in her share of tricking fellow employees. Without getting into too much detail, her favorites involve calls reporting a lost baby bear in the city, injured frogs on the interstate and a distress call for a dog who wasn’t moving and may be suffering from heat stroke. Come to find out that the dog in question was a concrete dog statue in someone’s yard.
A few readers may wonder how one could joke over a topic as serious as the care of animals in need. To Dadie, a sense of humor is critical when the days get long, the incidents of neglect keep coming, and the tears flow freely at yet another call to retrieve the remains of a deceased cat along the highway or help a dog left out in the freezing cold. The satisfaction of saving an animal’s life is at the forefront of what animal control officers do every day, so, frankly, she says, “You do what you need to do to keep going.”
On the flip side, a story that had the makings of a great practical joke turned out to be quite the opposite. Many years back, animal control got wind of a cougar being kept near Wilson School. Dadie answered the call and assumed she’d approach to find a very large, angry house cat. It turned out, indeed, to be a real cougar. With a little backup, the cougar (which was unlawfully being kept by its owner) was captured and released to a safe location.
Her goal for rescued animals is simple: Make sure they get the care and love they deserve and treat them as if they are not disposable. If she could shout one message from the rooftop, it would be for owners to spay and neuter their pets. She sees, firsthand, the problems when they’re not, with too many babies in shelters and rescues needing homes. Drawn to animals that no one else wants, she often fosters animals covered in fleas and ringworm or suffering from one illness or another. She even tries to tame the feral ones, which takes time and patience, along with her secret ingredients: rotisserie chicken and hot dogs. Dadie has been involved in private rescues for decades, particularly SOLAS, where animals are cared for in rescuer’s homes until a permanent home is found.
So what does Dadie enjoy in her free time? She loves camping and can chop wood with the best of them, due to her incredibly strong right arm thanks to years and years of scooping cat litter. She also enjoys writing and, spoiler alert, a book is in the making, but it’s probably at least five years out so be patient.
When asked her favorite vacation spot, it didn’t take her long to reply with, “Anything up north.” Summer heat is not Dadie’s cup of tea. She prefers the crisp, cool fall air and even the respite that winter provides, so it’s not surprising that a favorite vacation area is northern Michigan. When asked if she’d retire there, she laughed and joked that she’ll probably never leave Council Bluffs. After all, she has the perfect set-up for her backyard wildlife sanctuary where numerous abandoned baby squirrels and birds have gained new leashes on life. After several weeks of feasting on fruit and nuts under her watchful eye, they are released to the wild. Her own animal menagerie is made up of four cats and two dogs. If she could own something a little more exotic, Dadie would pick a mini goat.
To conclude, if Dadie was a candy bar, I’d suggest something that’s a combination of sweet and salty, with a soft interior that contains a few nuts. Maybe a Snickers bar? After all, this sometimes-stern animal control officer has been known to frequently move moths in order to mow the grass and would cry as a child when someone stepped on an ant. You could say a career with animals came naturally.
Don’t forget, our second annual Wags & Wheels Car Show is set for Sunday, Sept. 8 at Thunderbowl, 1900 Madison Avenue. Sponsorships are currently being sought and registrations can be acquired at Midlands Humane Society, 1020 Railroad Avenue.
MHS Pets of the Week, brought to you by Sherry Bills-Taylor: Beans is a 1-year-old spayed female who arrived as a stray. She is very affectionate & loves to play. We think she’ll be a great fit for almost anyone.
Beautiful Juliet is a 3-year-old spayed female with medium hair who arrived as a stray back in February. She is playful and just a little ornery, so you know she’ll keep you entertained at home.
Lanky Luigi is very proud of his mittens. This handsome polydactyl cat is a 1-year-old neutered male with medium length locks. He is quite playful and loves to get into trouble. He gets along with other cats and will be a good fit for someone who can play with him regularly.
Rambo is our longest dog resident after arriving in January. He is a 3-year-old Lab/Australian Shepherd mix who is SO ready to get out of the shelter! Rambo is looking for a home that can provide a laid-back lifestyle with low traffic and a yard where he can play. We recommend kids who are in their teens or no kids in the home and he would enjoy another playful dog. He takes treats in the gentlest manner and is a volunteer favorite. He just needs time to warm up to you and then will show you his playful personality and huge heart.
All cats over 1 year can be adopted for just $25.00 and kittens up to 11 months are half price off their adoption. Come see us today at Petsmart in Council Bluffs from noon to 3 p.m. or at MHS from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.