HomeTop StoriesBusy animal control officer Wellesley becomes temporary 'raccoon mother'

Busy animal control officer Wellesley becomes temporary ‘raccoon mother’

WELLESLEY – Every day is different for Wellesley Animal Control Officer Jenny Smith. And especially now, her days are busy. Given the large number of dogs in the city’s dog parks and the number of wildlife in need, it’s not unusual for Jenny to spend her entire shift on the road.

The breeding season for many wildlife is in April and May, and babies (including foxes, coyotes, deer and raccoons) are born in mid-June. Turtles are currently laying their eggs. Because many properties in Wellesley border the city’s conservation areas, it is not unusual for wildlife and people to encounter each other in the warmer months.

Wellesley Animal Control receives 4,000 calls a year

Jenny’s office receives approximately 4,000 calls per year, which in reality means that, as the only employee in the office, she receives 4,000 calls per year. About half of these calls involve wild animals. And many of the wildlife reports come in in late spring and summer.

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Jenny takes pride in helping animals and helping people with their animals. It’s hard to imagine anyone better qualified for the job, both in terms of skills and temperament. As a child, she went to a camp where she learned animal first aid. Before attending the Animal Control Academy and joining the City of Wellesley, she managed a dog shelter. She is a lifelong student of animal behavior. On her family’s farm she cares for goats, chickens, ducks, guinea fowl and dogs. Oh, and for a short period she also cared for two baby raccoons.

Due to the high volume of animal visits throughout Massachusetts, the rehabilitation experts who typically care for injured and orphaned animals are at full capacity. With no one able to care for the two baby raccoons found in Wellesley College’s science building, Jenny stepped in to become a temporary “raccoon mother.”

Baby raccoons
Baby raccoons found at Wellesley College.

CBS Boston

In an attempt to reunite them with their mother, she returned to campus twice in one day: once to set a trap for the mother and once to respond to a call made by a man using the bathroom heard running above his head. Because the babies learn all their survival skills from their parents, Jenny was eager to reunite the family as soon as possible. A search of the building did not result in finding the mother raccoon. But Jenny was not discouraged.

That week she had already helped a deer, saved a young hawk from a sprinkler and saved a young brown bat. As she was typing reports in her office, she looked at a stack of paperwork and explained, “I haven’t had a moment to catch up on this yet.” Every now and then a faint chirping would interrupt the sound of her fingers on her keyboard. Just around the corner, sharing her office, is a rescued parakeet named Lucy. Lucy, a beautiful bird who clearly loves Jenny, flew wildly until the weather turned cold. Then Jenny saved her. Asked about other birds, Jenny laughed about tackling one of the city geese before a vet appointment. When asked if the memory evoked a sense of satisfaction, she smiled: “Achievement and shame, like, ‘What did I just do?’ This is going on the internet!”

Jenny Smith
Wellesley Animal Control Officer Jenny Smith

CBS Boston

Jenny, a black lab and German Shepherd owner, helps dog owners whose pets get into trouble find trainers who can correct unwanted behavior. With so many “pandemic puppies,” Wellesley’s dog parks are often full. On a recent trip to Morse’s Pond, temperatures were so high that she saw many people near the beach, but no dogs. Earlier in the day she had responded to a call about a dog in a hot car. What she wants – for people and pets – is good results.

Raccoons reunited

As luck would have it, she didn’t have to wait long for a good outcome for the baby raccoons. The next morning she received a call that both the mother and another baby had been admitted to Wellesley College. She packed the travel kennel into her SUV, headed to Wellesley and – some distance from the Wellesley College campus – reunited the babies with their mother and sibling. A great way for an animal lover to – as was bound to happen – start another busy day at work.

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