The start of July also marked the starting date for the city of Dunkirk's new animal control officer, Steven Purol.
Purol, a Fredonia resident, was appointed by Common Council after a lengthy review process which began with the presentation of Mayor Richard Frey's 2010 proposed budget last October. It was with his eighth budget proposal that Frey notified council that, according to the City Code, it was council's responsibility to set the guidelines and hire for the position. Purol takes over from long-serving city ACO Wally Baker.
Purol was asked Monday what his biggest surprise has been some five days into the job.
OBSERVER Photo by Gib Snyder
Pictured is the city of Dunkirk’s new animal control officer, Steven Purol, who took over from Wally Baker on July 1. Purol can be contacted through the city’s Police Department at 366-2266.
"The amount of calls. The first day I worked from 7:30 in the morning until 7:30 at night, yesterday I got done at 12:30 at night. And the variety of calls, but they're nice people. I'm surprised at the number of nice people I'm meeting," he replied. "I was a cop for over 20 years and it's almost like the same thing but a lower key. I'm going on call after call, but different kinds of calls.
"I caught a woodchuck in Memorial Park in front of a whole lot of people. They were clapping, little kids were coming over to see it. It's a good feeling because I get to return a lot of animals back to the owners and I can protect the public from some of the vicious animals.
"I think what I'm most surprised at seeing is the amount of pitbulls in the city. It really shocked me that there are so many in the city. Some dogs are great but some dogs are bred to be fighters and that's a concern for me."
Purol said he was given a good idea of recent problems with pitbulls.
"I know some cities pass ordinances concerning certain animals. If that's controversial, at least we have a dangerous dog ordinance that the judge can interpret whether a dog is dangerous or not and put certain restrictions on a dog to try and keep it safe," he said. "But some dogs are like people, there's good people and there's bad people and the bad people sometimes have to be confined."
Purol said calls about loose dogs and checking on unattended animals have kept him busy.
"Sometimes it's just a matter of a kid opening a door and the dog goes out. Jumping a fence, I've had a couple pitbulls jump fences and go bite other dogs," he explained. "That's the nature of the beast, animals are not really meant to be confined and they want to get out and run, they want to get out and play. Sometimes, they want to go out and fight other dogs."
Purol said his attempts to respond quickly to calls comes from his police background.
"You've got to get there," he stated, "generally the people are pretty good. You get to return (their dogs) and that always makes you feel good because they're like children to their owners. You're able to bring the dog back and educate the person on how to prevent it again. If the dog runs out and gets hit by a car, there goes the family pet."
Purol said he varies the hours he checks various city venues after his day starts with taking care of any animals in the city's pound.
"I start checking out the parks, the playgrounds, the schools, areas where I've had complaints before. If I checked on a dog yesterday I'll go back again to make sure it had food and water," he said. "And then I start getting calls and I go from call to call and it's a lot of fun, a lot busier than I anticipated. But that's OK, I'd rather stay busy than bored."
Purol is also a New York state-licensed trapper and trapping instructor.
"I can catch some of the animals that couldn't be caught before, not that the city wants me to go out and catch every raccoon, but something specific, like a sick raccoon or an aggressive woodchuck or something, a skunk trapped in a lady's house or something, I can take care of those kinds of problems for them," he explained.
Purol said there is variety of wildlife living in the city. People providing food, intentionally or otherwise, does not help either residents or wild animals in the long run.
"This city is inundated with a lot of animals, raccoons, possums, skunks, and we've got quite a feral cat problem," he explained. "It's a lot easier living in town than it is out in the woods because there's more predators out in the woods. The amount of people feeding animals is a real problem and actually, it's against the law to feed wild animals like that, but a lot of people do.
"I understand bird feeders, my grandmother had one all the time and she had hundreds of birds and that's pretty but it attracts every other animal underneath there, and it attracts all the squirrels. A lot of these animals carry diseases and they can do a lot of damage to your house. ... They'll over populate and they don't just come on your property when they're pretty to watch. They expand and Mother Nature is very, very cruel. If we have too many animals, she'll reduce the population through disease or starvation.
"In the summertime when it's real pretty and you see all the animals, they're fine, you're feeding them. Come wintertime and you don't want to go outside, then these animals are starving and that's a terrible death for an animal."
As part of his duties, Purol will be writing parking tickets as his predecessor did. He said he is just trying to help out a little bit.
"I think we have a very good city council, they're behind me 100 percent and they have great ideas on how to make things better. I have some pretty big shoes to fill with Wally (Baker) being gone, a heck of a guy and I've heard a lot of good things about him," he stated. "I guess I'm just here to help out a little bit and see what I can do to make the city a little safer. ... The police department has been great, the dispatchers and the guys on the street, they're the real heroes in the city. ... It's nice working with cops again after all these years."
Purol can be reached by calling the police department at 366-2266.
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