Jennifer Condon, Concord’s animal control officer and one of three state-licensed animal inspectors in the town, chuckled as she recalled being chased by a bull she was trying to corral and return to its owner.
“A bull chasing after me while I’m trying to get it,” she quipped.
The bull, from a farm in Concord, “was on a rampage.”
Condon, who is the owner of Boardman’s Animal Control in Maynard contracts with local police departments to watch over the town’s animals – both domestic and wild. Her father started the company, and she helped him on weekends. She attended the Academy for Massachusetts Animal Control Officers for 12 weeks to become certified and after her son was born decided she wanted to work at it full time. When her father died about 10 years ago, she took over the business. She has been an animal control officer for nearly 17 years.
“It just all fell into place, and I wouldn’t change a thing,” Condon said.
She handles everything from euthanizing a rabid animal and sending it to Boston for a rabies test, to quarantining a dog that has bitten someone or has come into contact with a wild animal.
She helps people remove bats from their home, although since COVID she no longer goes inside people’s homes.
“People call me for everything – from a bird nest in their doorway on a wreath to a dog running down the street or a cat walking through someone’s yard,” she said.
Checking out the barns
Gabrielle White is the health inspector for Concord’s Health Division, and one of Concord’s state-appointed animal inspectors. Her role is to inspect all of Concord’s barns — “anyplace that has outdoor barn animals.” That could include rabbits, turkey, cattle, sheep, pigs and chickens.
“It’s been up to as high as 120 site inspections,” White said.
Concord is a right-to-farm community, however, the town has minimum standards for keeping animals, which include having enough land and buildings to properly house them. All farmers, even those with small backyard farms, must pull a yearly permit.
In the 21 years she has been inspecting barns, White has never had to close one down. That’s not to say there haven’t been a few problems, but most of those are easily remedied.
Crowing roosters top the list of complaints from neighbors.
“That’s my No. 1 call. People get chicks and they don’t know they [received] a rooster. Chicks grow up and the rooster starts crowing,” she said.
People will either give the rooster away to a bigger farm, or as in a couple of successful cases, use a no-crow collar, which still allows the rooster to crow but mutes the sound.
Manure piles are another concern.
“If someone isn’t managing their manure pile we send them the regs. You can’t stockpile manure except in the winter,” White said.
For the most part, though, problems are few.
“We have an affluent community that has resources to maintain their pets. Most of the animals on this list are pets. There are a few that are more business oriented,” White said.
Every now and then, a farm animal goes on the lam and that’s where Condon steps in.
About a year and a half ago, a couple of goats got loose. They led her on a chase from a small farm in Concord to Sudbury then Lincoln and back again.
“The calls never stopped, every time someone saw them running down the road. They were finally caught, and the owners got them back,” she said.
Condon herself has a veritable menagerie of animals, all of them rescues.
“I have three goats, 13 rabbits, five chickens, four ducks, six dogs, two cats and a bird,” Condon said.
A 12-week-old golden Retriever and a fluffle of baby rabbits found in a cage by the side of the road are among those that have found a safe haven in her home.
Wild and free
It’s not just the pets and farm animals that keep Condon busy.
Concord has its share of wild animals, too, from the smallest baby owls to the occasional moose and bear.
This time of year, most calls are about the babies. Baby season continues until mid-July, she said.
“We’ve got baby ducklings, baby raccoons – we took baby raccoons out of Concord [recently],” Condon said. “The foxes have had all their babies under people’s sheds. People want them out, but it doesn’t work like that. Most people are animal lovers, and they think they are doing the animal a favor.”
She has rescued baby owls that have fallen out of their nests, bringing them to rehab if she can’t locate the nest or the mother.
It’s always best to leave the babies alone until they are old enough to fend for themselves.
“We have to coexist with the wildlife that surrounds us. If you take down acres of woods these animals have to go somewhere else and move to someone’s house,” Condon said.
As of 2019, said White, there were more than 100 farms in Concord, with 115 horses, more than 1,000 chickens, 80 quail, 225 cattle, 40 geese and ducks, 15 goats, 15 sheep, fewer than 10 rabbits and eight donkeys (most are miniature or small breed).
According to the town clerk’s office, there are 2,106 licensed dogs in 2023.
The most popular dog breed, said Condon, is the Labrador Retriever (yellow, black and chocolate), followed by doodle dogs, especially the goldendoodle. The least popular dog is the Irish wolfhound.
Did you know?
A Right‐to‐Farm Bylaw encourages the pursuit of agriculture, promotes agriculture‐based economic opportunities, and protects farmlands by allowing agricultural uses and related activities to function with minimal conflict with abutters and town agencies.