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Diabolical Dog Catcher

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A Forgotten Trope, this trope describes animal control agents who enjoy their job a little too much. They get a sick thrill out of capturing stray dogs, imprisoning them and even putting the poor things down. A tag won't matter to these people, and they are likely to get rid of it so they can get the satisfaction their prisoners are not going to good homes and loving families.

In more comedic works, you'll often see them trying to capture dogs using giant butterfly nets rather than anything that could actually seem effective at capturing a dog. How this is supposed to work is never addressed. In some darker works, however, instead of capturing them, they may just try to kill the dogs on sight with, say, a gun.

Not a very popular trope among modern day dog catchers (more properly referred to as animal control officers), who are more concerned about taking good care of stray animals and finding them a good home. This may have been more Truth in Television in the past, however, due to Values Dissonance on animal welfare. This trope goes hand in hand with Pounds Are Animal Prisons, another relic of the bad old days. Contrast with Right-Hand Attack Dog and Angry Guard Dog, when the dog is actually the pet of the antagonist in its own right.

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Examples:

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    Films — Animated 
  • Zig-zagged in Lady and the Tramp. The dogcatchers seem more like a metaphor, moving stray dogs and other 'undesirables' out of the nice part of town, but on the other hand the Tramp is a mischief maker and is caught in the apparent act of attacking a baby. While guards in the Pounds Are Animal Prisons sequence lead a dog off to euthanasia as if taking a human to execution, they're also gentle with Lady and quickly contact her owners.
    • The dogcatcher featured in the sequel is far more mean-spirited. He places the puppy Scamp in the same cell as a particularly vicious dog, not caring a bit for the possible consequences. He also reacts with savage pleasure at encountering Tramp, seeing him as "the one who got away".
  • Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted features a Monaco-based animal control agent named Chantel DuBois. DuBois goes way beyond her jurisdiction hunting down the main characters, not so she can lock them up, but so she can mount Alex's head on her wall (The wall itself is covered in all kinds of animal heads, suggesting she does this with all her targets). Her dialogue even suggests that she's been killing animals and making trophies out of them since she was a child.
  • The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature: The pest control agents Mayor Muldoon hires go about their jobs with sadistic glee, greatly enjoying hunting down and capturing the park animals. Gunther is by far the worst, showing great joy when Muldoon orders him to utilize the most inhumane animal traps he can get.
  • The animal control agents in The Secret Life of Pets say things like "It's over for you!" and "I'll kill you!" to their targets. They also act pretty evil, relentlessly hunting down Duke and Max.
  • Chief Animal Containment Officer Trumper in Shaun the Sheep: The Movie, who taunts his charges and deliberately kicks over an "Adopt a Pet" sign his assistants have put up. Averted by the assistants, who are well-meaning animal lovers but unable to do anything to stop him. After his defeat, the ending credits show them replacing the Animal Containment Centre sign with one saying Animal Protection Centre.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 101 Dalmatians opens with an in-universe case as Roger, who's a video game developer, is working on a game where the player plays as a dog who's running from one of these. The tiredness of the trope is lampshaded as the other devs Roger works with really hate the idea (putting in Cruella to Animals works, though).
  • Downplayed for the dogcatcher in Annie. He wants to take Sandy to the pound, but there's no implication that he wanted to hurt Sandy or put him to sleep. However, he is a bit snarky (he says, "He's no more your dog than I am your father!") and Annie seems scared at the prospect of Sandy being taken to the pound, suggesting that she believes this trope is in play.
  • Hotel for Dogs: The dog catchers seen throughout the film go about their job with sadistic glee. At one point, one of them says "Who cares about a bunch of dumb dogs?"
  • In Santa Buddies, this is subverted for Mr. Grooge. The stray dogs all run from him and he comes off as intimidating, but he turns out to be nice and adopts Tiny.
  • In Skippy, Mr. Nubbins takes cruel delight in confiscating Sooky's dog, and later takes cruel pleasure in telling them that he shot the dog.
  • The villains of Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco are a pair of dogcatchers who are only too eager to take stray dogs to "the lab" for various medical horrors. They're even willing to steal a dog who already has an owner (fortunately, said owner catches them in the act and his dog is safe).
  • Craig's father in Friday is a dog-catcher, and suggests Craig get a job with him. When Craig protests that he doesn't even like dogs, his dad says, "That's the beauty of it! I grab a dog, and I choke him, and I kick the shit out of 'im! All day long, my foot up a dog's ass! Just bang-bang-bang, up his ass! That's my pleasure."

    Literature 
  • Subverted in Doglands. Dogs dislike dog catchers and call them "the Traps", but it's also mentioned that dog catchers and shelter workers genuinely love dogs more than most people.
  • Most of the animal control officers in A Dog's Way Home are genuinely nice people who want the best for dogs. Chuck is one of the exceptions. Even his co-workers dislike him. He specifically hates pit bulls, and tries to have any dog that even vaguely looks like one euthanized in accordance with the city's ban on them. Bella is likely a mongrel and is described as looking more like a mastiff or Rottweiler, but Chuck thinks she's a pit bull so, to him, she's a pit bull (even when his co-workers disagree). Bella's owner is given a lot of trouble after he's reported to Animal Control, with the only option being Bella leaves Denver or she gets put down. This is, unfortunately, Truth in Television, as many dogs that look like pits in real life are also often labeled as them even if they're a different breed, only deepening the stigma against them.
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    Live-Action TV 

    Web Original 
  • Zig-zagged with the Neopian Pound in Neopets:
    • Dr. Death is sinister-seeming with his lab coat, name, and the fact that his office is dark, full of spiders, and labelled "Abandon" with a disclaimer that leaving pets at the pound is what heartless owners do. Despite this, Dr. Death actually takes good care of the pets at the pound.
    • Inverted for the other pound worker, an unnamed pink Uni who's just as sweet as you'd expect a pink unicorn to be.
    • Rosie, the manager, is another inversion: she's a dinosaur, yes, but she's very sweet and affectionate.
    • The other other pound worker, a robot Hissi (essentially flying snake), doesn't really have any personality, so we don't really know if he (she?) qualifies.

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3: The episode "Life's Ruff" features a dog catcher dead set on catching a pair of dogs, who happen to be a transformed Luigi and King Windbag, and locking them away in his "Poochitentiary."
  • Classic Disney Shorts: Pete plays a cackling, evil dogcatcher roaming around to kidnap people's pets, stuff them in his wagon and take them to the pound in several shorts, such as The Mad Dog and The Worm Turns, in which Pluto winds up captured (or is threatened with capture) by Pete, who flat-out tries to murder the dog with a shotgun when he resists! Needless to say, such scenes are censored from modern-day showings of these cartoons.
  • Western Animation/44Cats: The Cat-Catchers are quite open with the fact that they hate cats, and enjoy locking them up.
  • The Jetsons: Downplayed for the dogcatcher in "Elroy Meets Orbitty", who's rude (calling Astro "Rover" even after he introduced himself) but otherwise seems harmless.
  • In The Little Rascals episode "Poached Pooch", the Rascals have to rescue Pete from the dog catcher after Butch steals Pete's collar and license.
  • The Loud House: "Pets Peeved" features two animal control agents Corinne and Schmitty. Though of the two of them, Corrinne is the more diabolical one, while Schmitty seems more like a Punch-Clock Villain.
  • Martha Speaks: Averted. Kazuo is a kind, gentle person who keeps the dogs comfortable and well fed, and does everything he can to get them adopted by loving families. He even adopts an old bulldog called "Pops" when no one else wants him.
  • ¡Mucha Lucha!: One episode has Masked Dog captured by one of these. When Buena Girl points out that he's only supposed to catch homeless dogs, he counters by pointing out that his job title is "Dog Catcher", not "''Homeless'' Dog Catcher".
  • Pound Puppies (1980s): The second season has the dog-hating Katrina Stoneheart owning her own pound, and constantly trying to lock the Pound Puppies up in it.
  • Rocko's Modern Life: One episode has Ed Bighead running for the election of dog catcher with the very express resolution of becoming one of these and Rocko running as a contender to try to prevent it. Ed gets help from a professional PR manager who creates a campaign that allows him to win (and sells Rocko as one of history's greatest monsters), but he doesn't gets to enjoy it at all because the very same election had people vote for a new law for a very highly liberal treatment of animals (including building them a specialized amusement park) that reduced Ed's role to that of a glorified poop-scooper.
    Ed Bighead: [sweeping dog poop, looks into the camera] I hate my life.
  • Rude Dog and the Dweebs: Rude Dog has to contend with evil dog catchers. The show even has an evil dog sidekick who thinks nothing of selling out his fellow mutts.
  • Scooby-Doo:
    • In one episode of A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, the Monster of the Week is said to be the ghost of a cruel dog catcher who loved nothing more than catching dogs. Turns out he's really a guy who made treats for the Doo Family trying to get a priceless collar from Scooby.
    • Curiously, Scooby is pursued by a very much alive, though just as sociopathic, dog catcher of the same name in a later short.
  • Tom and Jerry: Several shorts featured a diabolical dog catcher. One has Spike give up his collar and license to Tyke in order to go to the pound in his son's place. Another has Jerry save a dog from a dog catcher, creating an Androcles' Lion scenario.
  • The Woody Woodpecker short "The Big Bite" has Woody's dog being caught by one of these, despite the fact that he not only has a collar but was out getting the paper.
  • Droopy: The short The Three Little Pups has its iteration of The Big Bad Wolf start off like this, considering he was willing to trespass into someone's yard and knocks down the houses of two of the titular pups. However, when Droopy's house proves a bit too tough a nut to crack, he suddenly drops the act and immediately turns into a Mellow Fellow, which sticks throughout both this cartoon and others featuring the wolf. It's about as hilarious as it's jarring.

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