Former Carson dogcatcher ‘Critter Capers’ now in print |

Former Carson dogcatcher ‘Critter Capers’ now in print

Sam Bauman, Appeal Staff Writer

For those who have wondered what an animal control officer — or dogcatcher — does, the late Lee Wittek has told all about it in a soon-to-be released book.

Before he died in 1999, Wittek wrote “Critter Capers,” edited by Maggie Mitchell.

Veterinarian Gary L. Ailes says of Wittek, “Lee was a fine gentleman, ready to be your best friend or lock horns to the end, depending on you. The true size of his heart comes through in this short rendition of his life.”

Wittek’s full name was Everett Lee Wittek. For 20 years, he was Carson City’s “dogcatcher.”

He kept a journal of his experiences in dealing with animals and people and kept meaning to put it into book form. But like many amateur writers, he just didn’t get around to translating those notes into a book. Then he met Carson City newcomer Maggie Mitchell, a professional writer and editor.

“These tales would make a good book,” Mitchell said. So she made them into “Critter Capers.”

The G-rated book is stories about Wittek’s animal experiences. It’s warm and personal, and obviously not the product of a major publishing house. Carson City readers will be able to identify with many of the sites and events that are retold.

In the chapter “Down the Well,” Wittek recounts his adventures in trying to hoist a horse out of a concrete well. Seems the owner rode the horse over a well covered with aging boards, which couldn’t sustain the horse’s weight.

Quarters were tight, but Wittek and another man finally got nylon web slings under the horse and used a backhoe to hoist it. When the horse was freed, the crowd yelled its approval. No praise rose for the two men who had to make their way out of the well without the help of the backhoe.

A veterinarian came up to Wittek after the rescue and praised the effort. “But why didn’t you just hook him up by the tail and lift him up?” the vet asked. Didn’t seem like a good idea, but the vet insisted it was possible to lift the full weight of a horse by the tail, which could take the strain.

Wittek didn’t believe him and later asked other vets. “I wouldn’t want to be below the horse,” said one horse doctor.

Wittek died March 18, 1999. Before then, he reviewed the galley proofs of his book. It must have brought a smile or two to the one-time accountant, law student and gentle man with a love for animals unprotected in modern urban environments.

An unusual aspect of the book is that in its e-book form, available at, it interacts with the reader, giving off real sounds appropriate to the photo or highlighted words.

— To order the paper version of the book, call (800) 247-6533 or try or The book is designed by Syd Brown (BBM Press) and retails for $15.95.