By Noah Johnson
LANSING, Ill. (September 7, 2021) – The Lansing Police Department hired a new animal control officer in July, and recognized her at the Lansing Village Board meeting on Tuesday, September 7.
Vanessa Kincaid started her full-time role on July 2. Before her, there was only one other animal control officer (ACO) in the village’s history, John Witvoet, who was with the village for about 30 years and retired in March.
“[Vanessa] has big shoes to fill. Everybody knows John Witvoet, who’s been in our village for more years than anybody can count. …Vanessa is ready to step in and fill his shoes,” Phillips said during Tuesday night’s Village Board meeting.
Now Kincaid is responsible for answering calls about stray or loose animals in addition to patrolling the community for them. She also offers support to the police department in other ways, such as burning CDs as evidence and performing maintenance work.
Keeping animal control local
Kincaid said she applied for the position to make a difference and to be there for the domestic and wildlife animals in the community.
“This position allows me to assist the animals and also community members when assistance is needed,” she wrote in an email. “Also it allows me to keep the values the (village) has maintained with a long standing tradition of providing this valuable service of animal control to the community, while other communities have resorted to relying upon independent contractors.”
Kincaid has years of experience rescuing and dealing with animals. She worked at Morraine Valley College for four years, worked briefly with the Cook County Animal Control Department, and is a nationally certified ACO through an online course.
During her two months on the job, she’s reunited a few dogs with their owners and has also come across some strays, which she takes to the South Suburban Humane Society, she said. And she has responded to calls about raccoons that needed to be humanely trapped. Some were sick from canine distemper, which affects the gastrointestinal, respiratory, skin, immune, and central nervous systems, according to WebMD.
Passion and compassion
Kincaid, who said she enjoys being around animals more than people, is enjoying the job so far.
“She’s got a passion for animals, a passion to help people, so we’re very fortunate to have her,” Phillips said Tuesday night.
“I know this job will have its good (and) hard times, but I look forward to assisting with animals no matter what the circumstances,” Kincaid said in an email.
She grew up around animals and is passionate about them because of their innocence and because they are good for the environment.
“Even when animals are ‘mean’ as people say, animals learn,” she said. “If people give compassion, they’ll realize people aren’t out to hurt them.”
Her goal is to always treat the animals she comes across on the job as if they were her own.
“Even when euthanizing a wild animal, I’ll treat them with respect and dignity because they deserve to be treated right,” she said. “I want to be there for the animals in the village of Lansing.”
Animal-related calls in Lansing can be directed to the LPD’s non-emergency number: 708-895-7150. The Lansing Police Department is located at 2710 170th Street, Lansing, IL.