By Alexa McCarthy
Ingham County Chronicle
Ingham County Animal Control Officer Jodi LeBombard was recognized at the Ingham County board of commissioner’s Sept. 23 meeting for receiving the National Animal Control Association’s Officer of the Year Award.
The honor is bestowed on an individual for outstanding achievement and exceptional performance in the animal care and control field. LeBombard was nominated by fellow shelter staff members at Ingham County Animal Control for her performance in 2013.
After the board of commissioners approved a resolution to recognize LeBombard’s achievement, Commissioner Rebecca Bahar-Cook, representing District 2, introduced LeBombard.
Commissioner Bahar-Cook presents LeBombard with her award.
“She was nominated due to her exceptional performance in the field of animal control work and her outstanding success in her pursuit of animal cruelty perpetrators,” Bahar-Cook said. “As well as a successful record of prosecution and restitution orders.”
Anne Burns, interim director at Ingham County Animal Control, said LeBombard’s dedication and devotion to the animals is one of the many reasonsshe is a deserving recipient.
“She goes above and beyond the call of duty and is relentless in finding the person who has done harm to the animal,” Burns said. “An animal control officer needs to know whether these people are going to hurt an animal, or if they just need educating. A lot of times it is just education, but we do need to get in the trenches and we deal with some horrific people.”
Animal control officers respond tomore than3,000 complaints each year, as well as providing numerous animal related services to the community. They are instrumental in the wellbeing of animals and the safety of people in the county.
LeBombard has been working for Ingham County for five and a half years and said this is her first job in animal control, “I’ve always had a love for animals and law enforcement and it’s a perfect mix of the two.” She said that her favorite part of the job is when the animals are saved because it doesn’t always happen.
LeBombard spoke of a time when she responded to a call where a cow and her calf were stuck in mud up to their necks. While the calf was rescued and taken to a Michigan State University research farm, the mother cow could not be saved.
Fellow staff members agreed that the job of an animal control officer is not an easy one and Burns said that LeBombard is always willing to take the toughest calls to remove animals from bad situations. “She’s been in swamps, patches, muck up to her knees, she’s been in it all and is not afraid to deal with it.”
Ashley Hayes, volunteer liaison and special event planner, recalled the ice storm in December 2013 when LeBombard drove through the dangerous winter conditions to collect displaced animals.
“The news channels were telling everyone not to leave their homes, but Jodi was out there and that’s why she’s such a good officer,” said Hayes.
In her acceptance speech LeBombard spoke of the teamwork and resources that are available and contribute to creating promising outcomes for battered animals.
“At times this job can be easily overwhelming, but I thank my friends, family and my own animals at home for keeping me going after seeing horrific things on a daily basis,” she said. “Without the support I could never make the impact that I do today.”
LeBombard received her award in Arizona at the National Animal Control Association Conference on Sept. 5.