Animal Control Officer Resigns

BRUNSWICK, Maine — After the resignation of longtime animal control officer Heidi Nelson, the Brunswick Police Department is now working with Freeport police to hire someone to handle animal welfare cases in both towns.

After 13 years, Brunswick Animal Control Officer Heidi Nelson resigned near the end of August.

Brunswick saw more than its share of rabies-related incidents this summer.

On June 18, two residents of Woodland Drive were bitten by a gray fox, and earlier that week, two dogs on High Street were attacked by a skunk that was then quarantined; a 95-year-old Breckan Road man used a board to kill a rabid fox on June 25; and on June 29, a man gardening on Bouchard Drive was able to subdue an aggressive fox with a shovel without being exposed, police said at the time.

Then in July, three people including a 5-year-old girl were bitten by a fox on Moody Road in Brunswick. That fox tested positive for rabies.

The number of incidents prompted Nelson to pull together a public meeting about rabies including a panel of experts from the state.

According to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, as of Aug. 21 — the last date for which information was available — 48 cases of rabies have been confirmed statewide this year, compared with 61 in all of 2017.

Brunswick saw the most — six cases between mid-June and Aug. 21, with a handful in Kennebec County, three in Androscoggin County one or two cases elsewhere in Cumberland County as well as in most other counties in the state.

Fortunately, since Nelson’s resignation, the town has only taken two calls about raccoons acting “strangely,” and in both cases officers shot the raccoons, Brunswick police Cmdr. Mark Waltz said Thursday.

In the interim, Topsham Animal Control Officer Bill Collins has been available to help Brunswick fill the void, and Falmouth police have offered the services of their animal control officer as well, Waltz said.

But it’s been relatively quiet so far this month, with no more calls about rabies in the Brunswick area, Waltz said.

And progress has been made hiring a new animal control officer, with interviews conducted earlier this week.

“We’ve been working to quickly fill the vacant slot,” Waltz said in an email Thursday. “We had a number of great candidates apply, conducted interviews earlier in the week and have started the background check on the lead candidate. We hope to have our new [animal control officer] in place by early October.”

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