Hartford Animal Control Officer Will Return to Work in January

Months after the city touted her return, former Hartford Animal Control Officer Sherry DeGenova has a definitive start date.

DeGenova, who was laid off in 2016, will be back patrolling Hartford on Jan. 8, according to a spokesperson for Mayor Luke Bronin.

“It's been a long 18 months to say the least,” DeGenova said Thursday morning. “I'm beyond ecstatic to be going back to doing what I love and what I'm meant to be doing.”

Bronin announced in October that DeGenova had been offered her job back. The news piqued the interest of many animal-rights activists in the city and beyond, who have since openly wondered about the delay.

City officials say the human resources department had to conduct the standard background check and fingerprinting, as well as allow DeGenova time to give her current job notice that she was leaving.

In interviews with The Courant, Bronin has said that DeGenova and another animal control officer, Carmelo Mercado, were not intentionally targeted by the layoffs built into his first budget. They were merely casualties of a larger municipal issue.

“In the spring of 2016, when we got a chance to get under the hood and see how big this fiscal crisis was, it was clear that we had to make some dramatic changes and make every reduction that we felt we could responsibly make,” Bronin said. “That included nearly 100 position eliminations, dozens of which were layoffs. Those reductions affected every department in the city.”

Bronin said the animal control layoffs came out of discussions with police Chief James Rovella. Together, Bronin said, they decided the city could operate with two animal control officers, officers Tom Fuller and Gerald Cloutier, the two most senior in that unit.

“We made that decision knowing that there would be an impact on customer service, but also knowing that according to the leadership of our police department, two ACOs would be enough to meet all of our statutory requirements and deliver a minimum necessary level of service to our community,” Bronin said.

He said the decision to hire back DeGenova came after Cloutier was injured on the job in June and went out on “long-term medical leave.”

Her return is “consistent” with the original decision to reduce the unit to two active officers, he said.

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