New animal control officer is old hand

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my.

Well, maybe not lions and tigers, but bears are certainly one of the animal nuisances the town’s new animal control officer, Chris Muir, is prepared to deal with.

Muir, 42, of New Fairfield, is a Wilton native who began the position this month after the retirement of longtime animal control officer Robert Napoleon.

He’s an old hand at the job, having worked part-time hours at it in Wilton for the past 11 years, with an additional four years serving as assistant animal control officer in neighboring Weston. He has a bachelor’s degree in justice and law administration from Western Connecticut State University.

“It’s exciting because there’s something different every day. No two days are the same,” Muir said, summarizing his feelings about the attractions of the job.

Most of what he does involves roaming dogs, stray dogs, abandoned dogs, and people who break animal laws.

“Yes, we pick up roaming dogs very often. Every stray dog has been adopted, thankfully. We’ve been very blessed,” Muir said. A kennel in the town hall annex can accommodate 10 dogs. None are there at the moment.

“We handle law enforcement in regard to domestic animals, and also prevent rabies with wildlife. Those are our main objectives,” said Muir, whose job is under the umbrella of the police department.

“We also handle injured deer and injured squirrels. If there is a mortally injured deer we are called upon to end its suffering,” he said.

There are some cases he doesn’t deal with, though.

“Typically we don’t deal with nuisance wildlife removal inside people’s homes. That is handled by wildlife removal companies,” he said.

Muir, who has a work background in database management, said one of his goals for his new job is to bring it into the 21st Century, with more electronic data rather than paper records storage.

“Electronic data is more efficient. You’re able to look back into the history of a case and see how many times you’ve dealt with a particular person, whereas with paper records it’s difficult to access the data,” Muir said.

Muir grew up in Wilton and is married to wife, Cortni, with three children.

Winter is a quiet time in animal control, but the pace should pick up soon.

“The springtime is a busy, busy time,” he said. “Animals that typically hunker down for the winter are more active. They feed more and are more hungry,” he said.

And yes, that may mean a call for bears in someone’s back yard.

“If there is a bear, we monitor it because a bear is a protected animal under the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection,” Muir said.

And there’s more.

“Occasionally, we get a call for a roaming horse,” he said.

At home, he has two cats. At work, he’s prepared to deal with lots of dogs.

His best advice for pet owners is to give them collar tags that include the owner’s phone number and address.

“That’s the best thing, so if they become lost, we can reunite them with the owner,” Muir said.