From pigs, to goats, to ferrets, to birds, rabbits, and horses, Officer Robert Napoleon, of the Wilton Animal Control department, has seen it all during a long career. A native son, Mr. Napoleon is one of two employees of Animal Control, which falls under the direction of the police department. His part-time assistant is Officer Chris Muir, also a Wilton native. Mr. Napoleon, who has been an officer in Wilton since 1984, said the Animal Control department is a highly specific necessity. \u201cWe enforce all the laws applicable to domestic animals,\u201d he said. \u201cThere are many responsible pet owners in this town, but there are also some irresponsible pet owners. If there weren\u2019t, maybe the town wouldn\u2019t need animal control.\u201d Another pivotal part of the department\u2019s job, he said, was handling animals suspected of carrying the rabies virus. Over the past few months, Mr. Napoleon said, the department has seen a noticeable increase in the number of animals who tested positive for the rabies virus. Two raccoons and a bat have already been \u201cdestroyed\u201d by the department after they were determined to have rabies. In all of 2012, one raccoon tested positive for rabies in Wilton, according to the state Department of Health. In 2011, there were none. \u201cRabies is a viral disease that travels up the nerve endings into the spinal cord, and eventually reaches the brain, where it is emitted in an animal\u2019s saliva,\u201d Mr. Napoleon said. Though animals with rabies don\u2019t actually foam at the mouth, the animal control officer said with a laugh that his department tends \u201cto ask people: \u2018Does the animal seem drunk?\u2019 We look for neurological conditions like uncoordinated walking, tremors, or shaking.\u201d Though many assume any animal scavenging for food during the day is suspected of having rabies, Mr. Napoleon said that logic does not apply to all animals. \u201cRaccoons do hunt for food during the day,\u201d he said. \u201cSkunks are a different story, as they are almost never out during the day. There is almost always a problem when a skunk is out during the day, whether or not it is rabies.\u201d It may surprise many, the animal control officer said, that his department is not tasked with \u201ccleaning the roads or picking up deer.\u201d Animal control officers will pick up domestic animals near roadways, but only to notify the pets\u2019 owners, he said. If residents see an animal with signs of rabies, or suspect their pet has been exposed to a wild animal with rabies, they should call the Animal Control department immediately. Those who are bitten by a wild animal should call their doctor immediately. Pet behavior One of the most important tasks of the department is to investigate pet-involved injuries, like dog bites. \u201cI\u2019ve often heard people say, \u2018oh, my dog would never bite,\u2019\u201d Mr. Napoleon said. \u201cI like to ask them, \u2018does your dog have teeth?\u2019 Any dog can bite. It doesn\u2019t mean it\u2019s a bad dog, but any dog with teeth can bite.\u201d While some dog-bite investigations involve relatively minor injuries, some do create real problems. Dogs are the property of their owners, who can be held civilly liable for any damage to persons or property by their pets. Making sure pet owners and their animals can coexist with other Wilton residents in a safe way, Mr. Napoleon said, is the greatest goal of the department. \u201cYou really need to have basic respect for your fellow man\u201d as a pet owner, he said. \u201cMany people love animals, but there are also some who are simply afraid of them. You need to have respect for everyone.\u201d In order to maintain this level of respect, one should follow all state and local laws governing pets. Dogs and leash laws, he said, are especially important. \u201cWe want to make sure that everyone is properly controlling their pets,\u201d he said, \u201cand not allowing them to roam free. When in public, be respectful.\u201d On any state-owned property, regardless of a specific leash law, all dogs must be kept \u201cin control\u201d by their owners. Though there is no standard protocol defining \u201cin control,\u201d Mr. Napoleon gave a few anecdotes of an \u201cout of control\u201d dog. \u201cIf your dog is 150 feet away down a path, or is out of your sight, or is not by your side,\u201d it cannot be considered in control. The animal control officer also noted that he and his assistant do conduct regular patrols of areas where animals are common, like Merwin Meadows, playing fields, and Schenck\u2019s Island. In addition, Animal Control regulates dog licenses and rabies vaccine paperwork, though actual vaccinations must be conducted by a licensed veterinarian, Mr. Napoleon said. \u201cHaving an out-of-date rabies vaccination puts a large burden on a pet owner,\u201d Mr. Napoleon said, as the state has increased protocols for animals who are suspected to have been exposed. Dogs, cats or ferrets that bite a person will be quarantined to watch for signs of rabies. Information: 203-563-0150.