Westminster Animal Control Officer Crystal Sheldon has been working with animals for the last 20 years.
“I love helping animals,” Sheldon said. “Since I was a kid, I always knew that’s what I wanted to do when I grew up.”
Today, Sheldon serves the Westminster community as one of four Animal Control Officers, but Sheldon experimented with several animal-centered careers before joining the force.
At first, Sheldon wanted to be a veterinarian, but quickly realized being stuck inside all day was not for her. She then tried zoo keeping — that too was not the right fit.
It wasn’t until joining Westminster’s Animal Control Unit that Sheldon felt she had found her calling.
Through her work with Animal Control, Sheldon is able to both create a safe environment for animals and connect to her community—interacting face to face with both animals and community members daily.
Sheldon’s work is multifaceted. She serves as an informational resource to the community, works in the field answering calls regarding potentially dangerous, injured, or abandoned animals, and heads investigations into cases of neglect. Her goal is always to help provide a good life and safe home to all animals in the Westminster community.
“One of the best feelings in the world is being able to reunite pets with their owners,” Sheldon said.
One of Sheldon’s most memorable experiences occurred in 2018 when Westminster Animal Control successfully rescued over 100 rabbits from a local hoarder.
“That moment really stands out,” Sheldon said.
Sheldon is also incredibly proud of the work Westminster has done with their Trap Neuter Release Program (TNR). The program has reduced the number of feral cats on the streets by picking them up and taking them into Westminster facilities to be neutered and cared for. Those cats that are adoptable then move to the WAGs Pet Adoption Center, a Westminster Animal Control partner, and those that are not are returned back to the neighborhood in which they were found.
The hardest part of the job? Investigating cases of neglect.
“Sometimes we find these animals in really bad shape,” Sheldon said. “It is hard to witness.”
Sheldon is hopeful that education can be the answer.
“We get cases of abuse, but we also get a lot of cases where people don’t even know that they aren’t properly caring for the animal. There is a lack of education that we hope to fix,” Sheldon said.
Sheldon’s work focuses on helping animals and helping protect them, and she urges the public to consult Animal Control whenever they may have a question or concern about any situation involving an animal.
“We are always here to help,” Sheldon said. “At the end of the day, we are all animal lovers and want what is best for them. Westminster Animal Control is willing to do whatever is necessary to make that happen.”