Community remembers ‘master of animal law’


Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office Animal Control Officer Doug Sanford of Sheridan died March 29 at age 48 after battling an illness. Sanford was the HCSO animal control officer since 2015.

“He has been a staple in this community since his swearing in and has done a fantastic job working with the citizens of this county, several animal organizations, assisting other law enforcement agencies and educating the public on animal laws and ordinances,” a press release from HCSO stated. “We thank you for your service and we will miss you dearly.”

Humane Society for Hamilton County Executive Director Rebecca Stevens often worked closely with Sanford and said she was heartbroken to hear of his death. She recalled a fond memory when he brought in a neglected dog in 2018.

“The photos show how seriously Doug took his job in advocating for the animals who need us the most,” said Stevens, who took photos of the dog. “He was a master of animal law and fiercely dedicated to ensuring that not only animals were treated humanely, but also that irresponsible and neglectful pet owners were held accountable.”

During the 2018 incident, she watched Sanford exit his truck with a frail dog who was “skin and bones.”
“He held her so lovingly and gently. I was so moved by how he comforted her that I started shooting pics of them,” Stevens said. “I remember thinking she looked at him like he was wearing a superhero cape. After all, he had saved her. He certainly wore a cape in my eyes and for so many other animal welfare advocates. His loss leaves an enormous hole in so many hearts. Words cannot express how deeply myself and the team at HSHC will miss him.”

Sanford was born in Grand Rapids, Mich. He is survived by his wife Heather; his two children, Holdan and Brittney; his mother, Sharon; his sister, Jan; his best friend, Jon Stollings; and his hunting dog, Deke.

“My prayers are with the Sanford family and with everyone who knew and loved Doug,” Sheriff Dennis Quakenbush stated. “As an expert in his field, he did so much to look out for animals in the community and to advance ‘Humane Law Enforcement.’ He was a great husband, father, personal friend and a servant leader and will be sorely missed.”

In his free time, Sanford enjoyed shooting guns and hunting pheasant and deer with his friends. He also enjoyed spending time on Bois Blanc Island with his family.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations to the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office Community Foundation, 18100 Cumberland Rd., Noblesville. Donate online at


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