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Katie Kirk

  • Katie Kirk

    Katie Kirk

    Animal Law Enforcement Officer

    Please tell us a little about yourself. (e.g., Background, education, hobbies, interests, etc.)

    I was born and raised in Colorado Springs. I always loved animals, and I even talked about going to vet school “when I grew up”. We got our first dog, a German Shorthaired Pointer, when I was in elementary school. We ended up having several over the years. I remember walking the fields with my dad watching the dogs hunt for pheasant, and I still can’t find a more beautiful thing to watch. After graduating high school, I moved a few hours north to pursue my Bachelor’s degree in biology at CSU Fort Collins (Go Rams!). During my time in college, my family switched to owning small dogs and rescued a small terrier mix, Kipper, who stole our hearts. I graduated in 2012, and I was gifted a very small chihuahua/dachshund mix who I named Lincoln. I moved back to Colorado Springs and became an Animal Law Enforcement Officer for El Paso County. Colorado is where I have been my entire life, but I love to travel to other places, try new food, explore areas you can’t get to with a vehicle, and cheer on the best teams there are: Chicago Cubs during the summer and the New England Patriots during the winter. Lincoln comes with me everywhere dogs are allowed, but really we prefer to just eat chips and salsa and watch Netflix.

    Why did you choose the online Veterinary Forensic Sciences Program?

    My supervisor in El Paso County suggested some of the classes as some training. When I started looking at the program, I couldn’t see myself trying to just take a few, I wanted to take them all! So I scheduled my GRE and enrolled in the Master’s program. During my time investigating cases, I had noticed a gap in forensic type training. The public is beginning to expect forensics in “dog cases”. This program was a great solution. I struck out to be better educated in the area of forensics as it applies to animal cases.

    What surprised you most about the program?

    I expected a majority of classes to apply to my work, but I also expected some to be more "veterinarian" oriented. While the latter was certainly true, the classes still applied to my work. When speaking with veterinarians now, I have more confidence to ask questions because I know what I am looking for when we are viewing radiographs. It was a pleasant surprise to have every class teach me something that I could bring back to work.

    What was your favorite part of the online learning experience?

    I just got done with an in-class, on-campus learning experience. It was great to be able to work full-time and schedule school around it. While there are due dates and the program is demanding, it never felt impossible. It would have been impossible for me to do this program in a classroom setting. My work schedule is not a regular 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday type of schedule. I work 10 hour shifts (sometimes longer) with on call nights where I have the potential to be out all night. It is impossible to plan on anything on my work days. The online experience allowed me flexibility, which is exactly what I needed.

    What has been the most useful takeaway that you have applied to your day-to-day responsibilities?

    There are so many! I could probably name one for each class I took. I think I found a renewed sense of responsibility after looking in-depth at the connection between human violence and animal abuse. While we tend to focus on the animals, the truth is that we could be helping a person who is suffering at the same hands.

    How has furthering your forensic sciences education affected your current work?

    Overall the program has made me a more professional and educated investigator. I approach cases with a different mindset. I try to preserve evidence better and work a crime scene in a more professional manner.

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