Meet one-woman animal control department
by Wes Mayer
Last week was National Animal Control Officer Appreciation Week, so it is a good time to learn more about Newnan’s one-person animal control department, Cyndi Hoffman.
Hoffman has worked for the city for almost eight years, working Monday through Friday and on call 24/7, she said. On an average week, she responds to around 50 calls. Some weeks, she responds to nearly 150. Her regular duties include rescuing lost or hurt pets and wild animals, returning pets to their owners or to a shelter, protecting neighborhoods against nuisance animals and enforcing city ordinances. But she also does much more, including educating offenders about the city’s laws.
“I do not want to have to take away anybody’s pet,” Hoffman said. “I try to work out everything with education, and then, if I have to, issue citations.”
Hoffman said it is surprising how many people in the city will work with her to meet the city’s standard for keeping pets sheltered and vaccinated. She said if money is an issue, she always tries to point the pet owners in the direction of the inexpensive solutions such as rabies clinics.
When Hoffman rescues an animal, the first thing she checks for is a microchip – she has a scanner she uses. Animals lose their collars and their tags all the time, but they can’t lose a microchip.
“I can’t speak enough for microchipping your pets,” Hoffman said. “I strongly recommend it.”
With a microchip, Hoffman can learn where the animal’s home is, how to contact the owners and, hopefully, take it directly home, she said. If not, she takes all rescued animals to the Coweta County Animal Shelter on 91 Selt Road. She said anyone who microchips their pets can see if their animal was rescued by visiting petharbor.com, and those wanting to adopt through the Coweta County shelter can also visit its website at shelterrescueinc.org.
Hoffman said she has rescued a dog from storm drains, rescued a deer stuck in a fence, has rescued hawks and removed squirrels from homes. The only animals she does not rescue are armadillos or dangerous wild animals like coyotes, or animals which could be considered infestations like rats, bats or bees.
Although she is a one-person department, Hoffman said she always gets the help from the public safety departments whenever she needs it. If she ever needs assistance with disorderly animals or people, the Newnan Police Department is always available. The same with the Newnan Fire Department – if she ever needs help rescuing an animal that is far out of reach, they respond with ladders or whatever other equipment is needed.
“I work in the most awesome city,” Hoffman said. “It is a great place to work.”
In 2012, Hoffman received an Exceptional Employee Award from the Southeastern Animal Control Association for her eradication of a pack of dogs which were attacking cats in the SummerGrove neighborhood in Newnan. Now she is working to rid the neighborhood of stray cats that are also attacking residents’ cats.
Hoffman said she is always telling people to spay and neuter their cats and dogs. Along with many medical benefits, such as the prevention of diseases and infections, the process helps reduce the population of cats and dogs.
Now, Hoffman is on the board of directors for the Southeastern Animal Control Association, and she is working on bringing the association’s annual conference to Newnan this August. The plans are for the conference to be held at the Newnan Centre on Lower Fayetteville Road.
On top of everything, Hoffman keeps up with her training. She regularly attends training courses to learn new ways to rescue different kinds of animals, which is very diversified. She has also trained to become nationally certified as an emergency first responder, and she can go into any state and assist in any kind of disaster. She also has a disaster plan for Newnan and Coweta County for how she can focus on rescuing and sheltering animals during a major emergency situation.
Even though she is only a one-person department, Hoffman tries to respond to every call she receives from concerned residents and complainants. She says as soon as anyone sees a loose animal, an animal being mistreated or whatever the situation is, give her a call at the Newnan Police Department, and she will do her best to rectify the situation. Her number at the department is 770-254-2355 ext. 163.