By TARA HAWKINS for Smart
Have you always wanted to work with animals?
Yes. I used to go to work with my mom at a veterinarian’s office. I couldn’t touch the animals, but they would let me help out around the office with filing. I always wanted to be a vet.
Why did you choose to become a humane police officer?
When I was 18, I answered an ad to be a volunteer at the SPCA. After being there about three months, I began working as an adoption counselor. Later, I started school in Maryland to become a veterinary technician. While there, I realized that people who take their animals to the vet already care for them. I wanted to help those animals that nobody cared about. At 19, I took over the job of humane police officer at the York County SPCA. I’ve been doing it ever since.
What does a humane officer do?
I investigate and prosecute cases of cruelty to animals. It might be something as simple as an animal not being fed each day. Other times, an animal might be starving to death.
Is the job what you thought it would be?
I did think that I would be working with animals, but it turned out to be a lot more about dealing with humans. I get to know a lot of people. I really try to be helpful rather than coming down too hard on them. I see a lot of horrifying things. When you are doing this work, your heart is always involved. I try to put myself in their shoes and try to convince them of what is best for their animals. But, I have to abide by the law. I can only do what a police officer can do. Sometimes, that means that I need to get search warrants. It has personally made me change. I see many harsh things that have made me a different person. I really try to keep a good sense of humor.
What is the worst situation that you have witnessed?
Wow, I’ve seen a lot. But the worst was when a dog was abandoned in her home. The owners separated and left the house. Two dogs were left behind. The only way she survived was by eating the other dog when it died. Thankfully, she is now living a beautiful life.
Do things like that make it hard to keep doing your job?
I love my job. It is nice when these animals get a chance at a new life. A lot of times animals come in very thin. They attach themselves to you because you are now feeding them. Once they regain weight, many become overly aggressive and need to be euthanized. I don’t check up on the animals anymore. It is too hard, but the good stories do help.
ABOUT NICOLE BOYER
Occupation: Humane Officer for the York County SPCA
Education: Attended the Community College of Baltimore County Essex, received Humane Officer Certification from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2000
Family: Daughter Taydem, 4
Lives in: West Manchester Township
Hobbies: Horses, staying active, spending time with daughter, Cookie Lee jewelry consultant
Community involvement: Volunteer for CART, the County Animal Response Team in York County