NARRAGANSETT-After 17 years of service, Narragansett animal control officer, and lifetime Narragansett resident, Art Smith, is retiring from the police department. Smith previously worked as a police dispatcher for the South Kingstown Police Department for 10 years but said he was influenced to pursue his current position by his father who had been an animal control officer in Narragansett.
“He was the animal control officer in Narragansett in the 1970s and he was always a big influence with his compassion for animals,” said Smith. “I always as a kid admired him for doing what he did and loving it.”
Once a position for the animal control officer in Narragansett became available, Smith decided to apply and started working part time in 1995 and then switched to working the full time position in 1996. His favorite part about being an animal control officer is helping both the animals and community of Narragansett.
“It is nice to be able to help animals that need help, you’re their voice and it has been really nice to be able to make sure that animals are being treated well and are safe,” said Smith. “I was born and raised in Narragansett and it is a unique community because people are always trying to help people, so my goal was always trying to find a happy medium when it came to complaints and concerns.”
Former president of the non-profit cat rescue organization PawsWatch, Liz Skrobisch, said Smith has done a tremendous job for the Narragansett community and his service will truly be missed.
“I have collaborated with Art many times over the years and his experience and expertise will be sorely missed,” said Skrobisch. “In what is often a thankless and misunderstood position, Art has worked very hard to strive to balance what is required by law, connecting with the community, and helping animals.”
Smith said he has been most proud of the accomplishments the animal control office has made when it comes to enforcing certain ordinances in the town, that at one time were not enforceable and the office was able to get these animal ordinances into municipal court.
“I am always proud that the position is professionalized now, 30 years ago the dog catcher was a position that people didn’t take so seriously,” said Smith. “The trend 20 years or so ago was to change the dog catcher status to animal control officer because you are charged with a very important duty for protecting animals and making sure that state laws and ordinances are followed.”
Smith said he is going to miss serving the town of Narragansett and is very grateful for the support of both the police department and the community. He also said that because of the support from the police officers and Chief Dean Hoxsie, he has never had a single obstacle with the police department that he had to overcome.
“Chief Hoxsie has been very supportive of animal control and it is nice because we have a great working relationship between the animal control office and the police department,” said Smith.
After retiring, Smith plans on spending more time with his family and will be starting a part time position with the Rhode Island Community Low Cost Spay/Neuter Clinic in the beginning of July. He said he will stay active in the field of helping animals and would like to continue to help serve the town.
“One of the best feelings you can get is rescuing a sick or abused, neglected animal,” said Smith. “And then with the support of the animal shelter, adopting these neglected animals out to better families, that is great and that has always been a good motivation for me.”