New Bedford Animal Control Officer helping pets affected by Ian

Today, October 4, is World Animal Day, also known as Animal Lover’s Day. It promotes awareness of the problems facing animals.

“What a fitting day to call,” New Bedford animal control officer Manny Maciel said when reached by phone. “I just got back from the devastation in Florida, and I’m turning around and leaving tomorrow for a week to work alongside the ASPCA and others, rescuing stranded animals in Lee County.”

Maciel’s career began 31 years ago. He said when he started it was just another part-time job “until I started reading and learning about animals,” he said.

“Three decades later, I can tell you that I love my career with passion,” Maciel said.

As someone who works with animals, does he have any phobias?

“Yes, I’m still afraid of getting bitten, but when I approach an animal, I do so thinking I’m not going to get bitten,” he said. “Touch wood, in 31 years I have never been bitten by a dog.”

What is the most difficult animal he has ever faced?

“To be honest,” he said with a pause, “It’s people!”

There were also many moments that he will always remember.

“To see a heavy-bodied, six-and-a-half-foot boa constrictor crawling down Mill and County streets,” he said. “Another time, I was in an attic, with a single flimsy board on the rafters, trying to reach a crying little dog. I thought my foot was going to go through the ceiling.”

Regarding choosing animals as housemates, Maciel said, “You can choose an animal, but unless that animal chooses you, that’s when you know you’ve got the right one. Animals have always saved people, not the other way around.”

In a few days, Maciel will report what he found and how things are going, rescuing abandoned animals in the Fort Myers area. He has rushed to rescue animals in the past, such as helping abandoned dogs near Chernobyl and helping animals after Hurricane Ida in Louisiana.

If you would like to help give stranded animals a second chance, you can go to

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