Animal Control Officer Combines Police Work with a Love of Animals

November 7, 2014

by Bob Gibbs

Salem Animal Control Officer Corey Bliss never thought that a career with the police lay ahead for her, but she now combines her work on the force with her love for animals.

Having grown up in 4H and FFA, Officer Bliss has spent much of her life involved with animals. Attending Alvirne High School with its agricultural opportunities enabled her to exhibit dairy cattle and to participate in sheep shearing, and she is now teaching her 10-year-old daughter how to spin wool.

Since high school, she has worked in an animal hospital, from customer service to veterinary technician, assisting in general practice and emergency critical care, and even an overnight emergency room technician. Vast and varied, her experiences have benefited her greatly during her tenure as Salem’s ACO.

She took the job in 2011, when she answered an ad in the newspaper. At that time, it was part of the highway department, but shortly afterward, the position was moved under the jurisdiction of the police department, requiring her to attend the 260th Part Time Police Academy. Graduating Nov. 18, 2011, she is now a sworn police officer for the Town of Salem. “(I) never saw myself getting out of veterinary medicine,” she said. “I loved it. I never considered being a police officer. Everything just led me here.”

From dogs and cats to raccoons, foxes, skunks and birds of prey, Officer Bliss deals with all kinds of animals, although there have not been many cases in town, she has been vaccinated for rabies. She has suffered only minor nips and scratches from some of the animals she has worked with. “I’m pretty good at reading dog behavior.”

At this time she is the only female on Salem’s police force, a second female officer is currently at the Police Academy. “Being the only female of the force is fine. They are like family here. They treat me great. When it comes to my co-workers or my supervisors, they have been wonderful. They direct me in the right direction when needed.” In her job as ACO, Officer Bliss works alone most of the time, but her fellow officers are only a call away. If she has a question or needs helps, she knows they would be there in a heartbeat.

When asked if there was any advantage in being a female ACO, Officer Bliss stated that she feels it “comes down to people skills, communication, and you need to be able to work with the public. Although, some people may be a little shocked when they see me capture some of these sickly wild animals.” She says that technical skills, knowledge of the animals and communication are most important. She also has set up a good network of animal shelters, veterinarians and animal hospitals, and she has a close working relationship with New Hampshire Fish and Game.

One of the most unusual animals that she has had to deal with was a Peahen (a female Peacock) that kept showing up at a local apartment building and resting on a balcony. It flew away whenever Officer Bliss would try to capture it, until about a week later, when it was finally secured. Another time she got to administer anesthesia while a veterinarian fixed a hawk’s broken wing.

Wildlife nuisance calls are educational calls for an animal control officer. When Officer Bliss gets a call about an animal in a resident’s yard or in a dumpster, she captures it, and then teaches the person about the importance of not leaving food, or water or shelter in the area. In other words, removing whatever it is that is attracting the animals so they do not keep coming back.

When the police department gets a call regarding a stray dog or cat, Officer Bliss is dispatched to the area of the animal’s sighting. Often a resident will have picked it up, and once located, the animal is scanned for an implanted microchip, identifying the dog or cat’s owner. If there isn’t one, she will search through the neighborhood that the animal was discovered in, but if its owner is not found, it is then brought to the town’s kennel, located at the Salem Animal Rescue League. Officer Bliss will wait a few days and then, if it is a dog, will post it on the Granite State Dog Recovery web site. She recommends that people use this site to locate or post lost dogs.

Above all, Animal Control Officer Corey Bliss wants to get the word out that it is most important to take good care of your pets, and to keep them properly controlled, using leashes and good fencing around your yard. Have them wear tags and identity microchips, and be sure to get them their shots when needed.