Nathan Andrews has been on the job as an Animal Control Officer (ACO) for SFACC since March. A native San Franciscan who grew up with a variety of pets in his household, Nathan got an early start in the animal shelter environment at 17, when he began working at Pets Unlimited (later the SFSPCA), a vet hospital and adoption center.
In his current role as an ACO, Nathan enjoys the variety of species he interacts with on calls for assistance. “Working on wildlife cases is new to me and interesting, whether we’re responding to reports about raccoons, skunks, coyotes…there’s so much urban wildlife in S.F.” His most memorable case to date involved rescuing a skunk that was stuck in an elevator shaft of a construction site 12 stories high. It was his first skunk case and a tricky one, “like diffusing a bomb—no sudden moves.” He had to walk very calmly on wooden planks to get to the skunk, who was not about to move from its corner. Moving slowly and carefully Nathan was able to pick up the frightened critter, who thankfully didn’t spray him, even in gratitude.
Nathan’s advice for those considering becoming an animal control officer: “This job is very public-serviced focused as well as animal focused. Spend time in the animal welfare field. Volunteer and maybe do a few ride-alongs with ACOs if you can.” Nathan says his experience at Pets Unlimited taught him a lot about animal care and customer service, both skills that inform his current job, “the customer service aspect of my job is underplayed. Much of what I do as an ACO is public education, either related to caring for a pet or dealing with wildlife situations.” For example, suggesting ways to avoid unwanted critters from making their home in a basement or crawl space, or pointing out that keeping pets safe by not leaving food for wildlife is a good idea. He’ll have many opportunities to use those people skills at SFACC.