Noah Jaksetic, Animal Control Officer I

Noah Jaksetic, Animal Control Officer I
Posted on 09/20/2023

From picking up roadkill on a hot summer day to chasing a loose cow back into a pasture and removing bats from inside a home, the sights for Lenexa Police Department Animal Control Officer Noah Jaksetic are ever changing.

“It was kind of a long journey to find my niche, but I did it,” he said.

Having pets didn’t necessarily come naturally for Noah.

“I got an American-Eskimo poodle named Sammy for my 11th birthday,” he said. “That was the first pet I had growing up.”

But he did work on a ranch when he was younger that exposed him to non-domestic animals.

“I rode horses and tended them,” he said. “I learned how to rope cattle. I’ve just always been a big animal advocate.”

His love for animals — particularly dogs — grew as he got older.

“My wife had three dogs when I started dating her, so she brought them into our relationship,” he said. “We also fostered dogs in our home together.”

Noah, his wife and their three dogs Now, part of Noah’s job is to make sure pet owners are responsible for their own.

“If you’re not going to properly care for your animal, don’t get one,” he said.

Noah majored in psychology and minored in criminal justice at the University of Missouri — Kansas City. He interned at two local police departments, including Lenexa, in the summer of 2016.

“Through the internships, I decided that I wanted to a police officer,” he said.

One year later, he was in his last week of field training when he determined being a police officer was no longer his vision.

“I didn’t really have a backup plan from being a patrol officer,” Noah said. “I liked being in law enforcement, I just didn’t like the officer aspect of it.”

That’s when the Lenexa Police Department offered him a job as a public service officer, working in the lobby of the station.

“I did that for two and a half years and I knew it wasn’t a job I wanted to do for the rest of my career,” Noah said. “It was kind of a steppingstone.”

He took opportunities to explore a different career path within the police department.

“I had a lot of conversations with an animal control officer, did ride-alongs and just kind of got hooked,” he said. “It’s everything I liked about being on patrol without the stuff I didn’t like about patrol. I still get to be out on the streets. I still get to see people. I get to have contact with a lot of cool animals.”

Noah transitioned to the animal control officer unit in January 2021, joining a team of two other ACOs.  

Noah with a black and white dog "We’re technically animal control officers but we deal mostly with domestic animals who have owners,” Noah said. “A lot of our job is talking with those owners and trying to get them in compliance or educating the public. To be an ACO, you need to have a strong desire to talk with people and deal with animals.”

“The main purpose of our job is to promote safe, responsible and humane ownership,” he said. “Whether that’s educating people on proper animal handling or vaccinations to answering questions about wildlife, we do it all.”

Pet reunification brings Noah joy.

“To be able to find their dog and make that phone call and say, ‘Hey, I have your dog, he’s doing fine.’ You can just hear that sigh of relief in their breath. That’s a neat feeling.”

Noah encourages pet owners to take active steps in licensing their pets. Doing so helps reunites lost pets with their owners quicker. Plus, the City of Lenexa requires all dogs and cats ages 6 months and older to get licensed.

“Licensing your pet and putting the license on their collar and having the collar on the animal is definitely the best and most expeditious way to get your animal home, and not even through animal control,” he said. “If your pet is wearing the city tag, or a collar with a phone number on it, you’re going to get your dog home a lot quicker.”

When it comes to wildlife complaints, animal control doesn’t get too involved.

“We do not trap and relocate wildlife,” Noah said. “It’s a lot more harmful for them — and really the environment as a whole — than just leaving them where they are and letting them be wildlife. The only time we get hands-on with wildlife is if it’s at the point of euthanasia or rehabilitation, or if it’s in your home.”

When wildlife does need to be put down, like if an animal is suffering from a fatal injury or being sick, ACOs will euthanize animals with a .22 rifle or using euthanasia drugs.

“If it’s something more high risk like a coyote or fox, as long as it’s safe, we’ll try to euthanize it where it is because we would be putting ourselves in danger trying to transport that animal to a different location,” Noah said. “But if it’s something smaller like a racoon or possum, we take it to our service center and euthanize it there and dispose it.”

The City owns a large walk-in freezer where the discarded animals are kept and a third-party company collects them monthly.

In 2023 so far, the police department has disposed of approximately 79 animals.

But that part of the job is often seasonal.

“In the wintertime, wildlife is pretty hunkered down,” he said. “We might euthanize one to two animals a month in the winter; whereas, in the summer, it might be two to three per week.”

For unwanted animals inside the home, it’s a little different.

“We can remove that animal from your home and release them on your property,” he said.

Lenexa City Code allows citizens to trap wildlife as long as the traps are set on the homeowner’s property and released on property that they have permission to release that animal on. The city does not allow animals to be released on public property. That means if there’s a snake in your garage, animal control will remove it and release it in your yard.

"If a homeowner wants to, they can hire a private service to come in and trap the animal and relocate elsewhere or exterminate it,” he said. “But for our purposes, we'll release on your property."

Calls and complaints involving animal cruelty are hard but it’s also part of the job.

“I always describe them as the best and the worst call to go on”, he said. “Yes, it sucks to go into a home and see dogs that aren’t being taken care of, being neglected, whatever it might be but at the same time, I’m there to remove them from that situation. I think that’s the best feeling of my job — knowing that these dogs or animals that don’t have a voice and can’t speak for themselves, I’m the one who basically gets to be that voice for them and remove them from situations and get them set with people who are going to take care of them.”

Most of the time, animal cruelty calls are reported by neighbors.

“If there’s a situation where you physically see somebody being abusive to a dog or hitting an animal, try to get that on video,” Noah said. “If you see something out of the ordinary, call us and we can look into it.”

For those who have a pet but lack the funds to care for their animal, there are resources.

“I would much rather get the phone call of, ‘Hey, I can’t afford dog food, I need some help, what do I do?’ As opposed to standing in that person’s apartment and seizing their dog because they just can’t afford dog food and have neglected to seek help for the past several months.”

The Humane Society of Johnson County and the Pet Resource Center of Kansas City are a few local organizations that help provide free pet food and services for owners.

Wondering when to call animal control? An emergency would be a dog getting hit by a car. Call 911 for that. But if a neighbor’s dog is barking or you see wildlife in your neighborhood, those are non-emergencies, and you can call the Animal Control office directly at 913.477.7385, or the police non-emergency line at 913.477.7301.

Noah and his wife Nikki and daughter Camille“I never pictured myself in the animal welfare field,” Noah said. “That kind of fell into my lap and it has been the best thing. ACOs need that balance of having a strong feeling for animal advocacy but also being able to realize that you’re going to see and have to do some tough things.”

Noah lives in Kansas City, Kan., with his wife, Nikki and their 17-month-old daughter, Camille. Outside of work, Noah enjoys working with his hands by blacksmithing, welding, woodworking, fixing cars, being outdoors, and cooking.  

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Published Sept. 20, 2023