Wallingford dog pound deals with sudden vacancies

Wallingford dog pound deals with sudden vacancies


Assistant Animal Control Officer Rachel Amenta pets George, a pitbull recently adopted from the shelter, after feeding him a treat. Amenta has led the department since Animal Control Officer Lisa Seyler was fired on July 29. | (Andrew Ragali/ Record-Journal Staff).

WALLINGFORD — Assistant Animal Control Officer Rachel Amenta talked about the successful adoption of George, a pit bull who used to call the town’s animal shelter home.

Before George was given to the Pent Road shelter, he lived on a porch for six years. George had an owner, but was neglected, Amenta said. After the neglect was reported to the Animal Control Department, the owner was convinced to surrender George to the shelter. A Facebook page Amenta started drew interest from families as far away as Texas, but the dog eventually found a good home in Wallingford.

Amenta, who has worked full-time with the department for eight years, stroked the pit bull and fed him a treat on Thursday. The next day his new family picked him up. Placing animals in a new home is the most rewarding part of the job, Amenta said.

“Especially when they’ve come from a rough situation or they’ve been here for awhile,” she said.

The adoptions are encouraging, but the last month hasn’t been the easy. Until late July Amenta was one of four employees in the department and then suddenly she was the only one left.

Former Animal Control Officer Lisa Seyler, the department head, was fired July 29 after being arrested by Wallingford police several days earlier. Seyler was charged with assaulting Dean Rizzo, a part-time employee with the animal shelter. Rizzo and his wife, Marci, resigned their part-time positions with the animal control department on July 24.

“It’s a lot of work,” Amenta said.

The town was able to hire a part-time employee on Aug. 8 to help Amenta, but the department is still down a full and part-time employee.

Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. said late last month that losing three of four employees so suddenly would make it difficult to provide the same services for the immediate future.

“We haven’t heard of problems yet,” Dickinson said Wednesday. “You just have to go day by day.”

Personnel Director Terrence Sullivan said the town will look to hire a new animal control officer in the coming weeks. Amenta is qualified for the position, he said, but didn’t apply.

Amenta could not be reached for comment on why she is not a candidate for the job.

As a self-proclaimed animal lover, taking care of animals is “something I always wanted to do,” Amenta said. Prior to working with the town, Amenta worked at a veterinarian’s office.

With the department shorthanded, Amenta has been busy. There are countless cats and kittens she must care for, along with a dozen dogs. Most of the animals are found roaming, she said. Amenta must also respond to any reports of dangerous wildlife.

Finding homes for animals in the shelter is the biggest challenge, Amenta said. Amenta recently started a Facebook page, titled “Wallingford Animal Control.”

“It’s a good way to get the animals exposure for adoption,” Amenta said. “It’s been pretty successful.”

As of Thursday, the page already had 1,016 followers, even though it was started only one month ago. Amenta’s posts are positive and tell the stories of animals currently housed in the shelter, or of those animals who have found permanent homes with families. The site also provides Amenta a way to communicate the shelter’s needs.

“Lately, so many of you have asked what you can donate to the animals at the shelter,” Amenta posted on Aug. 27. “Since our cat and kitten explosion began we are in dire need of wet and dry food for these sweet souls. Anything you can contribute would be greatly appreciated.”

To adopt a pet from the shelter, an application must be filled out, Amenta said. Just because an application is filed doesn’t mean the adoption automatically goes through. It’s important to make sure the pet will be a good fit with its new owners, Amenta said. Sometimes, dogs come from a bad home and can’t socialize with other dogs, or don’t fit well with children.

But when there is a perfect fit: “It makes all the bad stuff you see worth it,” Amenta said.

aragali@record-journal.com (203) 317-2224 Twitter: @Andyragz

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