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home : features : community news June 28, 2016

3/12/2013 11:21:00 AM
Slice of life Q&A: Walking on the wild side with Leah Payne
The News talks with Williams' Animla Control Officer
Animal Control Officer Leah Payne stands next to her new truck. Ryan Williams/WGCN
Animal Control Officer Leah Payne stands next to her new truck. Ryan Williams/WGCN
Williams-Grand Canyon News

How many years have you lived in Williams?

I've lived in Williams for 12 years.

How long have you worked for animal control?

Seven years.

How did you get started in that line of work?

I started off as a 911 dispatcher for the police department, then the person that was animal control moved on to become our community services officer and I took over animal control.

What's a typical day for you like?

A lot of driving around, most of my calls are self-initiated because I do a lot of driving around. Then I do follow-ups from calls that happen overnight from officers. It's a lot of driving. During the summertime I'm a lot busier because I have the campgrounds to patrol and other areas like that. During the winter I find my extra projects to be re-writing ordinances and working on a policy and procedure manual for animal control.

What's the best part of your job?

Playing with the dogs and the cats. I absolutely love it. Sometimes I get to play with an occasional skunk. I've had some very strange calls, I've done a porcupine in front of the ambulance; they had a porcupine that wouldn't leave their front door. I had to teach myself how to go ahead and remove a porcupine. You can't use your catchpole because they have no neck, but I just used the wire on the end of the catchpole to scoot him along, and he went up a tree and went to sleep. I've had some herons that I've had to relocate that have been in the residential areas; take them back up to Buckskinner Park. I've had lots and lots of skunk calls. I get squirrel calls in attics too.

What's the worst part of your job?

There are only a couple of things, and that's people not taking care of their animals appropriately would absolutely be the worst. People who just dump their dogs off instead of taking them to a shelter or people not licensing their dogs so I don't know who to return the dog to. I don't like it when people yell at me either because I'm just doing my job.

What is the most memorable experience of the job?

Every dog that I return or adopt out to a home is a great experience because then I know that it's going to a good home and I know that's it's going to be well taken care of, and I don't have to worry as much when I have to take them to the shelter.

What is the most unusual part of your job?

Definitely the wildlife calls. They come with the territory but it's all a learning process because I'm not really trained on how to handle a lot of the wildlife issues. And they're wild animals so it's hard to predict how they're going to react so it's just kind of hit or miss with them. I can call the county's animal management if I need to, and they'll give me some tips or send someone over to help me. We work hand in hand with them really well.

Is there anything new to animal control?

We have new ordinances, one is a dog-barking ordinance. I do have copies of the ordinances with me that I can give out to people if they have questions and I can explain it to them. We also have a pick up after your dog ordinance, if people are out walking their animals on any city property, whether it is an open field or a city street or somebody's yard they need to pick up after their dog. That's the one I'm going to work on a lot this summer because I notice there's a lot of areas where there are some problems. I just really enjoy doing animal control. I like all the people I work with I like everybody I interact with, it's a little frustrating sometimes but for the most part it's a great job. I also have a new truck for work, it's a 2006 Toyota Tundra, 4-door and a backseat.

What are you future plans in life and in your career?

I plan to stay here for a while with animal control, probably another 7-10 years I would imagine if they'll keep me that long. And then go from there.

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