LABELLE — Jessica Chadwick is LaBelle’s animal control officer, and while she has many different duties from impounding stray and loose animals, controlling vicious animals and handling bite cases, to investigating cruelty and neglect, resolving nuisance complaints, enforcing ordinance and laws, and even providing education and training, she truly enjoys the part where she places animals into forever homes.
She is passionate about caring for all of the animals that she comes across, but in particular she mentions a dog that they received who “was almost beyond help when we picked her up.” She explains that poor ”Carnation” needed a lot of TLC, but “now she is a whole new dog. She is full of life now!”
“I wish the public knew that we are not just dogcatchers; we take pride in what we do by trying to save animals from all the different situations and educate people on how they can help,” explained Chadwick, who has been working as the city animal control officer for several months now. “A typical day, we try to start our mornings out taking care and spending time with the animals that we have in the shelter, and as the calls come in, then we head out. It’s a lot of traveling involved. We work the city limits and the western side of the county.” She added, “I knew when this job opportunity came up, it was my time to help our community even more.”
Chadwick is a lifetime resident of Hendry County. She grew up on Alico Cattle Ranch. “My papa and my dad retired from the ranch. Growing up here has been a big part of my life decisions, and what I enjoy and love,” said Chadwick. “I have always had a passion for helping animals, and when I graduated high school in 1998, I started working for Dr. Van Roekels and Associates, as one of the veterinarian technicians, as I was in college. I knew animals were my passion. I truly enjoyed my many years with them.”
Chadwick also volunteers as a 4H leader for one of the swine clubs, and has always taken pride in participating in the LaBelle Relay for Life. “Our community may be small, but we have big hearts, and that makes us a community that works together through the good times and bad times.”
She says her home life is full of “love and craziness.” With her husband, Chris Chadwick, they have two beautiful daughters, Katelyn and Bradyn. “They keep us busy with all their activities they like to do, dance, 4-H, softball, horses.”
She spends most of her free time with her family and friends. Her husband manages Chadwick Family Pest Control LLC, and they run a horse and carriage service known as Whispering Pines Clydesdales.
When asked who her greatest influences have been, she said, “There are many different people that have influenced me, my papa my dad, along with Dennis and Debbie Van Roekel. They all showed me that working with animals is what I love and will always love. There are days that are not the best, especially when it comes to euthanizing an animal that is unable to overcome its situation. We unfortunately cannot save them all, as we wish we could.”
She went on to say that when times are hard, she remembers: “Anything is possible if you work for it, pushing through the tough times. Knowing that my family will be there no matter what.” She added, “The COVID has made me look at life differently, that’s for sure.”
Chadwick recently became certified in euthanasia, and reports, “We still have Carnation, the dog.”