By Alex Lippa
---- — PLAISTOW — When a dog is loose or a cat is stuck in a tree, there will soon be a new face responding.
Town Manager Sean Fitzgerald has chosen Matthew Hay, 30, to be the town’s new animal control officer. Hay still has to be approved by the Board of Selectmen later this month.
“I’ve always had a love for animals,” Hay said. “They don’t have a voice of their own, so I’m happy to be an advocate for them.”
He will serve the department part time on an on-call basis. He will also serve Danville as part of that town’s contract with Plaistow police.
“He seems like a perfect candidate and we will be happy to welcome aboard,” Deputy police Chief Kathleen Jones said.
Jones said Hay is currently a department manager at Petco in Salem.
“He’s got a real passion for animals and we think he’ll have a great connection to the community,” Jones said. “He’s been around animals for many years and we think he’s one of the best candidates, based on his background.”
Hay said his passion for animals dates back to when he was a child.
“I’ve loved animals since I was running around and chasing frogs when I was a kid,” he said.
He also has a love for chameleons. Recently, he went on an expedition to Uganda in search of new species of chameleon.
While he has never worked as an animal control officer, he does have police experience. He previously worked at the Methuen Police Department as a cell monitor.
Hay will replace Brian Farrell, who is at the police academy as he prepares to become a full-time officer in Plaistow. Since Farrell left, it has been an all-hands-on-deck approach for animal control in town.
“Our other officers have stepped up in the interim,” Jones said. “We also received assistance from the highway department.”
Farrell was paid $15 an hour in his position.
Hay said his experience as an owner of three large breed dogs will help him in his new job.
“Most animals aren’t aggressive,” he said. “It’s all about understanding their behavior and reacting properly.”