It is a love of animals, new Highland County Humane Officer Nick Marando said, that interested him when he learned the position was open.
“I wanna help animals,” the 2012 Greenville High School graduate said Thursday. “I’ve always been around animals and it’s something I always wanted to do – help them, and make a difference.”
Now a Wilmington resident where he also works at Auto Zone, Marando said he showed horses in his younger years as a 4-H member and still has dogs, cats and a horse that he rides for fun.
Marando said he is the man to call if someone in Highland County suspects any type of animal cruelty or neglect. He can be reached through the Highland County Humane Society Animal Shelter at 937-393-2110, and someone there will forward the message to him, or by email at email@example.com.
Since he was sworn in on June 28, Marando said he’s received several calls about cats, dogs and even some abandoned pheasants. He said two dogs have been surrendered to him, but that’s not the outcome he’s looking for when he goes to investigate a complaint.
“The response I hope for is that they respect me and listen to what I have to say. A lot of it is more about education. A lot of times, if a person is too close to the situation, I’ll just say, ‘Hey, that’s not a proper shelter for that animal,’ or something like that, but sometimes it gets pretty serious, too,” Marando said. “What I hope is that people care enough to do what they need to do so the animal has a good life.”
The first option when he goes out on a call, Marando said, is to educate people on the proper care of their animals. He said he investigates the situation then makes a decision based on what he thinks is best for the animal. Sometimes, he said, that could be explaining what type of feed an animal needs, or helping someone find options if they can’t afford to feed an animal. Other times, if the animal is in bad shape, he has to make the call for it to be surrendered.
Marando said he learned about the Highland County job through Fayette County Humane Officer Brad Adams, who also works with the Ohio Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). Marando said he did some field training with Adams, then took a four-day Basic Humane Officer Training Course that required passing a test at its completion.
Marando replaces Kim Cooley, who was dismissed from the humane officer job on Feb. 22 after being hired on Jan. 4 of this year. Jim Wikstrom, president of the Humane Society Board of Directors, said at the time that Cooley had performed admirably in the position, but since April of 2016 she had been charged six times with allowing animals to run at large, and Wikstrom said that information was not shared with the Humane Society when she accepted the position. The charges were the result of horses she kept at her home.
Wikstrom said Thursday that he believes Marando will do a good job. He said the society has added signage to Marando’s vehicle that should the public recognize who he is.
“We did a bit of a search, Nick threw his hat in the ring, and he had the opportunity to train with a gentleman who has been a humane officer for 15 to 20 years,” Wikstrom said. “He impressed the gentlemen who trained him, so we called him in and decided to go in that direction. He has an official presence to him that maybe we didn’t have before, and maybe that will help.
“Our humane officers before did a pretty good job, but maybe didn’t have that presence that said hey, this pretty serious. We think this will help with resolving some of our situations.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or firstname.lastname@example.org.