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Happy Anniversary, Officer Yuchniuk! How Long's It Been?

Waterford-East Lyme Animal Control Officer Robert Yuchniuk celebrated his 25th anniversary with the Waterford Police Department on September 6, 2013.

Off. Robert Yuchniuk
Off. Robert Yuchniuk
Waterford-East Lyme Animal Control Officer Robert Yuchniuk may be one of Waterford Police Department's best known officers and, judging by the scores of Facebook postings in response to an announcement that today is his 25th anniversary with the Waterford Police Department, he's arguably the best loved too.

"Congratulations! Your compassion for the animals and families in this area is astounding! Keep up the great work you do!" posted Elena Olson. 

"Thank you for all you do for our community. The animals need you," posted Tara Andrelli Aldinger. 

Even people he's given tickets to went online to thank him for the great work he does.

For Yuchniuk, however, this job is really a labor of love. Yuchniuk says the past three years he's served as Animal Control Officer have been his most rewarding, even though he says he's working harder now than he ever did as a patrolman.  
 
As the only Animal Control Officer serving the towns of Waterford and East Lyme, Yuchniuk's territory covers 79 square miles and he's on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week responding to every animal issue that comes in from both towns. During natural disasters, his continuous presence at the regional emergency shelter enables people to bring their pets with them.   

Since taking the position, Yuchniuk has been called upon to wrangle snakes, capture rabid raccoons, rescue injured raptors, pull baby ducklings from drains, and deal with dog attacks. He's hand-reared kittens and handles daily reports of lost or abandoned dogs and cats.

On his watch, the Waterford-East Lyme Animal Control Facebook page has become a main source of information about all things relating to animals. He uses social media to get the word out about animals turned into the shelter to help return them to their rightful owners or find new homes for those that have been abandoned or abused. 

"If I need something, I post on Facebook," says Yuchniuk, adding that the shelter depends on donations for necessary supplies. "If I say we need bleach, it magically shows up, and it saves the town money. It's a win-win for everybody."

Yuchniuk and his wife have also been driving forces behind fundraising efforts for a new Animal Shelter, which the town of Waterford so badly needs. He leads by example, willingly having his hair dyed blue if it will help raise money for the new building, and he personally thanks everyone who donates.

"That's people reaching into their own pockets and giving money to the cause," says Yuchniuk. 

That the fund for the shelter is now at $130,000, with much of that money coming from small donations raised by local children having bake sales or donating birthday money, is in no small part due to Yuchniuk's continuing effort to get the word out. And he does it all for the animals. 

"The best thing about the job is helping out the animals that really can't help themselves and getting them out of bad situations. That's the best part of the job for me," Yuchniuk says. "The worst part is seeing the poor abused and injured animals. I've seen some horrible things. It was Gandhi who said the true measure of society is how we treat our animals and I think that's true."

The good news is that Yuchniuk is able to turn those bad situations around. And though there are always going to be cases of mistreatment, Yuchniuk also sees many more people who are willing to step forward to give an abused animal a forever home. Knowing that he can really make a difference in the lives of the animals he encounters is what keeps him going. 

"You see the bad stuff and you turn it around and make it the good stuff," says Kuchniuk. 

Congratulations, Officer Kuchniuk, both East Lyme and Waterford are lucky to have you. Thank you for everything you do!

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