Williams on animal control in R’land
Tchiakousky Williams is Madison County’s first full time animal control officer. The Canton native previously worked for both Canton and Ridgeland Police Departments as an animal control officer. Williams is a Canton High School graduate and holds an associate degree in criminal justice. He and his wife Tangela, have a son Tchiakousky Junior and are expecting a daughter, Ava, March 2019. Williams spoke with Sun reporter Nikki Rowell about what the role of animal control officer entails.
When did you first begin working with the county as the Animal Control Officer?
“I am the first full time animal control officer hired for the county. They’ve had other part time animal control officers through the city of Canton. I started in February of this year.”
What qualifications are needed for such a role?
“This job is mostly a hands-on job. Most of what I have learned has been from hands-on experience. There are trainings that I have attended through the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and PEETA. That’s been really great, but most of what you need to know for this job you have to learn through experience.”
Can you tell me a bit about the training sessions you’ve attended and how those have helped you in this role?
“The trainings help because it teaches you about the law. You have to be careful with even how you hold an animal. If you hold an animal a certain way, you could be held liable. I don’t use a catch pole because it could hurt the animal’s neck. So, I have to take a hands-on approach to it. Everything is mostly hands-on. Dealing with animal control, we have a lot of classes. I like to attend those. I’ve had classes with Homeland Security dealing with dog fighting. That one was very helpful. Law enforcement are working with animal control, because if you have dog fighting, there are other illegal things going on as well. So, I work closely with the county investigators with the sheriff’s department.”
Can you describe for me what your day-to-day is like?
“I look at my emails and check out all the homeowner’s association pages and check for lost animals. That’s one thing I want to do. I go to all the subdivisions and see if I have an animal missing there. I write down what kind of animal and what color it is. Once I’ve gotten a list together, I go through and look. I usually find them. After that, I cruise through the platted subdivisions for the county. Right now, I mostly focus on the platted subdivisions in the county. That helps free up the sheriff’s department so they don’t have to respond to those animal control calls, because they’re constantly building in Madison County. Every animal I pick up, I keep reports. No matter how big or small. Just to keep track of everything.”
What sort of animals do you deal with?
“I’ve caught some weird things working with Canton and Ridgeland. I saw everything you could think of. Deer, snakes, even an alligator. I also had to deal with a peacock. In Ridgeland, it was mostly wildlife. With the county, they said since the county is so large, my focus is on domesticated animals. Unfortunately, I love to answer snake calls, but I can’t. I have to forward those calls to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.”
Are you afraid of any of these animals?
“I’m going to let you know right now, I was not a fan of snakes. But, as you get more calls, you start to think it’s nothing. You just deal with it and go about your business. Now, I can’t believe I want snake calls. Prior to me getting into this field, you couldn’t put me in the same room with a snake.”
Where do the animals go when you pick them up?
“Most days, if I know I’m going to be in the office, we have an area in back where I will put the animal under a little fan with some food and water. I usually don’t keep them back there for longer than an hour or two. Just to allow time for their owners to come pick them up. I take the other animals to Mississippi Animal Rescue League. They keep track of everything, any animal you take up there.”
Do you respond to calls about strays or animals who run away from home?
“I get a lot of both. Social media has played a big part in it now. Over the last two years of me doing animal control, social media has played a huge role. There’s a Facebook page called the Madison County Pet Detectives. If a pet goes missing, they will forward it to me. Or if I pick up someone’s animal, I will post that animal on the Facebook page. It has about 6,000 members. It’s like having so many other animal control officers helping you out to find the animal. I have a 99 percent rate from that page. I love Facebook for it and the people who made it. Just about every animal I post on there, I find the owner. I rarely take animals to the Rescue League because of that page.”
When you respond to wildlife calls, where do you take those animals?
“I don’t do wildlife calls anymore. If I had a call where a wild animal was held in a cage, I would take it and release it. I would always try to release the animal near a source of water.”
If anyone needs assistance with an animal, how can they reach you?
“They can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or they can reach me by my cell at 769-572-1443. Or they can call the office at 601-790-2550.”