After years of vacancy, Nome has an Animal Control Officer

Nome’s new Animal Control Officer holding a freshly bathed puppy at the City’s animal shelter. (Photo by Davis Hovey, KNOM)

For the first time in almost five years, the City of Nome has an active Animal Control Officer (ACO).

Dawn Ubelaker had her first day as ACO on May 1st, which she said turned out to be quite eventful.

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“This orange pup in here, he was also a surrender here in town. He was taken to the airport, he was given to Everts or NAC, and then he escaped from his kennel and went rogue on the runway. So I got called and chased this little guy all over town,” Ubelaker exclaimed. “Finally, a very very helpful, kind citizen snagged him, so we were able to get him back here.”

According to Ubelaker, her position is on-call only, and within two hours of starting the job, she received her first call. After only two days into the position on Wednesday (May 3rd), she had already exceeded her hours for the week.

“When this job was explained to me, it was explained as possibly a 10-hour-a week, on-call position. An animal control officer is needed, but it was the expectation of the City that it was not going to be very intensive.” Ubelaker chuckled as she said, “I’ve been here for two days and a few hours, and I’ve worked more than 10 hours.”

Besides responding to calls from community members, Ubelaker’s duties also include providing care for animals in the shelter, performing welfare checks on animals in Nome, and filling out paperwork.

“So this chunk in the morning, these first few hours of the morning, is the time I’ve dedicated to come into the shelter, take care of the animals that are here, and clean as needed. I have a lot of paperwork. I did not expect the paperwork, and I didn’t realize that when I took this on, but luckily, I’m good at paperwork, so it’s an okay part,” Ubelaker said.

Inside the shelter, where Ubelaker takes care of the necessary files, is a single desk, seven large cages for animals, and an assortment of toys and crates. The new ACO says People for Animal Welfare and Safety, also known as PAWS, owns most of the materials in the shelter, including the desk.

“Most of the room in here right now is being used by PAWS,” Ubelaker said. “This is all of their paperwork and their food, so most of this stuff is theirs. I’m kind of slowly moving in and trying to reclaim a little bit of space so I have room to do my paperwork and whatnot.”

According to the latest City of Nome budget for this fiscal year, Ubelaker has just over $40,000 to operate with for FY17. In addition, the contracted ACO plans to ask for specific donated items from the community.

“We don’t have any bedding for our kennels,” Ubelaker stated. “We were able to get some food yesterday, and that was important and good, but we don’t have any shampoo or towels or bedding, so that’s something I’m going to be working on immediately, is trying to get some supplies like that. And donations are always appreciated.”

Besides looking for donations, Ubelaker said she plans on attending a euthanasia training in June. If she completes that training, she will be the only person certified in Nome, other than a veterinarian, who can put down suffering animals.

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Davis Hovey is a news reporter at KNOM - Nome. Hovey was born and raised in Virginia. He spent most of his childhood in Greene County 20 minutes outside of Charlottesville where University of Virginia is located. Hovis was drawn in by the opportunity to work for a radio station in a remote, unique place like Nome Alaska. Hovis went to Syracuse University, where he graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Broadcast Digital Journalism.

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