Maddy Eckel, Animal Control Officer

When we interviewed Maddy and asked to take her photo, she immediately turned to get Charlie, the first dog she ever seized due to starvation and neglect. Maddy was the person who released him from the chain he was on for ten years, and ever since, she’s shared a special bond with Charlie.

Read on to learn more about the woman who drives the Animal Control van!

What inspired you to become an Animal Control Officer?

“I’ve been working in the animal care field for most of my working life. I started by walking dogs and cleaning kennels in boarding facilities. I soon grew an interest in animal behavior and worked with a behaviorist in a dog daycare and training center. In my free time, I fostered pit bulls through a variety of rescues and volunteered with a trap-neuter-release group for feral cats. Animal Control seemed like the perfect next step and feels like what I need to be doing now.”

What is the best part of your work?

“Watching an animal I seized from a neglectful situation walk out the door in the arms of a loving, new owner is by far the most rewarding part. It lights up my heart to know they will finally experience the care and love they deserve.”

What is the hardest part?

“I struggle with leaving an animal in a situation that I don’t personally feel is a good quality of life for the pet. All I can do in my role is enforce the Kent County Ordinance to its fullest. I try my best to educate animal owners beyond the ordinance, and many do make changes to better the quality of life for the animals.”

Do you have any pets?

“My boyfriend, Matt, and I have a 13-year-old American Pit Bull Terrier named Ashes: she has been my rock for many years. We also have an eight-year-old German Pointer mix who was adopted through HSKC. We have four cats–two were rescued and rehabbed strays and one I found in an abandoned warehouse. Our most recent addition was a little kitten I fostered from HSKC after his mother was hit and killed by a car. I quickly fell in love and he became a “foster failure.” We also have five Chickens (two of which came from HSKC), five rescued Pigeons and a tank of Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches.”

What is your favorite thing about the HSKC?

“I love how hard our staff work as a team for the shelter animals. Whether we’re rehabbing a fearful dog or socializing a semi-feral cat, we do everything in our power to help the animals.”

Do you have a favorite animal story?

“My partner and I received a call one day last summer that a goose was tangled in fishing wire. We spent over an hour chasing this goose around along the river in the heat, doing our best to lure her close. After a while, our goose chase attracted a bit of a crowd. The goose did everything in her power to her evade us, including swimming under nets.

We had nearly exhausted every resource when I sat down, tired, wet and hot, and on a whim threw pieces of dog kibble in the water. Amazingly, the goose started to swim up to me! I knew I had one chance to catch her; when she started to eat from my hand, I was able to grab her. I hoisted her out of the water, and the crowd actually rushed to assist us! The fishing wire had cut into her legs, and she surely would have died if left alone. We were able to remove the wire and release her back into the water. I still see the goose from time to time, and I love knowing we saved her.”