New animal control officer takes reins in Wendell

By DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer

Published: 01-13-2021 3:50 PM

WENDELL — Leverett Police Officer Meghan Gallo has been sworn in as Wendell’s new animal control officer.

Gallo, 26, takes over for longtime animal control officer Maggie Houghton, who recently stepped down after moving up her planned retirement date. Gallo had agreed to take the position immediately in exchange for the remaining half of Houghton’s annual $800 stipend. Gallo will be paid $400 for her animal control work from now until the next fiscal year begins on July 1.

Gallo, who also handles regular policing duties, said she is looking forward to the new job. She has previously handled a few animal control calls in Wendell.

“I get a lot of loose-dog calls,” she said about the job that she also handles in Leverett. “I also investigate dog bites and animal complaints.”

Wendell is in an inter-municipal agreement with Leverett for that town to provide its policing services. A short-term agreement that started in October was extended last week until July 1 by a unanimous vote of the Wendell Selectboard. A long-term agreement is being discussed.

Wendell Selectboard Chair Dan Keller said he is thrilled that Gallo agreed to accept the job with its modest stipend. He said Houghton is “more than happy to turn it over to a youngster like Meghan.”

Keller mentioned Gallo had requested an expense line, which was recently granted and bestowed $300, for certain equipment. Keller said the money will be used to replace a pair of leather gloves with ones made of Kevlar. Small animals can slip through the grip of leather gloves, which also don’t adequately protect against animal bites or scratches. Kevlar is a synthetic fiber also used as a component in bulletproof vests.

Gallo said she joined the Leverett Police Department in October 2019. She previously worked as a veterinary technician for a year and has been a farmer, garnering experience with large animals.

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“We get a good amount of loose sheep in Leverett,” Gallo added.

According to the Wendell town website, anyone who needs to contact Gallo regarding an animal control issue can contact Shelburne Control at 413-625-8200.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.

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