Emerald City Emergency Clinic on Wednesday, October 9, 2019.
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Emerald City Emergency Clinic on Wednesday, October 9, 2019.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Here's where your dog goes if you're arrested in Seattle

I stood outside the Emerald City Emergency Clinic at a smidge past 1 a.m.

To Macy Ellison, I looked suspicious.

"A lot of unsavory characters come out at night and try to come into the clinic without their pets,” Ellison said.

Some of those “unsavory characters” may have been arrested earlier, she explained, their dogs confiscated by police. Those dogs wind up at the emergency clinic, which doubles as a sort of doggy foster care.

“That's why,” Ellison continued, “when you came to the door we were like, who is this guy? He doesn't have a pet with him."

Macy Ellison stands for a portrait at Emerald City Emergency Clinic in Seattle.
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Macy Ellison stands for a portrait at Emerald City Emergency Clinic in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Casey Martin

Ellison has worked here for almost a year. She works the night shift, 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.

"We can have upwards of 10 to 15 patients” — animals — “come in and we're only staffed at night with one doctor and two technicians so it can be pretty busy," she said.

The night I dropped in was unusually warm. Six dogs slept, five of them there for dehydration.

[Read more from KUOW's Night Shift series.]

When Ellison started working here, she was surprised by how many cops came by, dropping off dogs.

“Lots of police here," she said. "Either because they arrested the owners or because the animals were abandoned somewhere, that kind of thing. You don't really get that as much during the day.”

Once out of police “custody,” the dogs stay at the animal clinic for a brief time, then move to the city animal shelter. Ellison couldn’t say how often they’re reunited with their owners.

For Ellison, working these hours means making compromises.

Tight staffing at the clinic means they don’t get breaks.

"The delivery apps have been our savior,” she said. “We just have to eat whenever we can."

Her significant other, a vet tech at a different clinic, works an opposite schedule. They have one day a week to spend together.

“Our schedules totally overlap, and it's just a little difficult," Ellison said.

The night shift also means drinking your after-work beer in the morning.

"Usually, when I get off work at 6 a.m., I will go and buy a six-pack of beer and some snacks,” Ellison said. “I get home, play with the dog, go to bed."

But she loves her job, partly because the cases at night aren't ones she'd see during the day. "It's just more interesting work,” she said.