Helping four-legged friends

A.J. Burnopp, the newest Mercer County animal control officer, takes a moment to stand beside his truck Wednesday afternoon at the Mercer County Animal Shelter.

Four-legged friends in Mercer County have a new person to make sure they’re safe from abusive or neglectful owners.

Last Wednesday, during the county commission meeting moved back one day to accommodate the primary election on May 13, the three-member commission approved the employment of New River Community and Technical College graduate A.J. Burnopp as a temporary animal control officer. Then, County Clerk Verlin Moye administered Burnopp’s oath of office.

“It’s really enjoyable,” Burnopp said a few days after his appointment and oath of office. “Just going out there and helping [Mercer County Animal Control Officer T.R. Monninger]. It’s always a big surprise going out on each call. [Monninger]’s really great.”

Growing up in Green Valley, Burnopp pursued one goal after graduating from Bluefield High School in 2010. He wanted to become an officer for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.

“I always wanted to be in some form of law enforcement,” Burnopp said. “I like to be able to move around and not behind a desk all day.”

Having worked as an animal control officer, Burnopp realizes the jobs are very similar.

“Working with other troopers, it’s the same thing,” he added.

Burnopp attended New River’s law enforcement program, graduating in May of 2014. A press release announcing a list of award winners confirms that Burnopp graduated in May 2014 with an associate degree in law enforcement. Burnopp was honored at the graduation ceremony.

His training from New River, Burnopp believes, has helped prepare him for success in his new role. He particularly liked that the instructors at New River had real world experience and could explain how the world differed from the books.

Already, Burnopp has experienced the life of an animal control officer.

Tuesday, he said, Monninger and he were dispatched to a report of cows being near the interstate. Thanks to some quick thinking, the cows were returned to their farm nearby the interstate without incident.

Also, a recent call led to the confiscation of a man’s horses.

“They had worked with him before and he just didn’t want to take help from anyone,” Burnopp continued. “It takes a special kind of a person to abuse or neglect an animal.”

He added he wanted to give people the opportunity to work to take care of their animals.

“But if they’re in a situation where they’ve been abused or neglected for a long time, they’re coming back with us,” He said.

To contact Mercer County Animal Control call 304-425-2838 or 304-425-8911.


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