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New Canaan Daily Voice serves New Canaan, CT

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Job Goes Beyond Just Pooch Patrol

Mary Ann Kleinschmitt loves animals, but she never thought she would be working with them as much as she does now.

Kleinschmitt has been the town's animal control officer for nearly 11 years. Just about every day, she works with residents who are dealing with animal issues, from deer causing headaches for motorists to animals being banished from town after an intense dogfight.

Kleinschmitt started as the Redding assistant animal control officer in 1992 on the recommendation of a friend. "Within a month, I knew it was the job for me," she said.

After then working as Wilton's officer for about three years, Kleinschmitt came to New Canaan in 2000. She is on the road nearly all day, picking up roaming dogs, investigating barking dogs or helping people with concerns about whether their pets have come into contact with rabid animals.

Kleinschmitt recently investigated a fight involving three dogs Sept. 26 on the New Canaan Country School property. A Labrador ended up in a tussle with two pit bulls owned by a Norwalk woman. Kleinschmitt later found out the pit bulls were not licensed or up to date on their shots. The pit bulls are now banned from New Canaan, the second time it has permanently expelled animals from town limits.

She enjoys working with animals but particularly likes to help people. "It wasn't as much about the animals as it is teaching people and helping people with what they don't understand," she says. "It's a law enforcement position, but you want to be there to answer any questions."

Seeing people happy with their pets is always a source of joy. "When you see someone out with their Labrador or their cocker spaniel, there's nothing more satisfying than that," she said.

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