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Pam Peebles discusses her first animal rescue story and her work at the Thomas J. O’Connor Animal Control & Adoption Center, which provides animal control services for the communities of Springfield, Chicopee, and Holyoke.

“Every single day since I was 17 or 17 and a half, I come home with so many stories. But I’d like to tell you my first. We received a call — it was about eight o’clock at night and was just getting dark, and it was a neighbor saying, ‘I’m worried about my neighbor’s dog. He’s very thin, very skinny, and I’m just not sure he’s right.’

So, we ran right out there and came across a 17-pound Doberman Pinscher. So this dog at nine months old weighed 17 pounds, and as you can imagine, he probably should have been 40 to 45. And while I was there — I think we were trying to fight, be professional, and keep back emotions —  a little girl came out from the next door neighbor’s home and said, ‘I’ve been bringing him my breakfast every morning, but please don’t tell my mom because she’ll get mad at me.’ And I realized how important our intervention was for that neighborhood to see something good come with it, come to this dog, and in a month be in a home of his own, and we sent a photo to that little girl so she knows that giving up her breakfast really mattered. He lived to be 13 years old and lived a full, wonderful life. He used to come to all our events, and he was our little ambassador for as long as he lived.

Animal shelters and animal control officers are lifesaving places and lifesaving people. While we have a law enforcement role, we’re not the big scary dog catchers. We love to put our hands on every one of the animals we get. We love to have the obligation and the opportunity of caring for them until they can get to their forever place. We really mean just help. We really want to help and be of assistance. And you may have the best city animal shelter sitting right in your backyard — and we’d love to have you visit.”

This post is part of our InCommon series, which spotlights the people and programs that support Massachusetts residents. Stay tuned for more stories from Commonwealth employees and residents, and tweet us yours @MassGov.

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