Julie Flaherty, Acting Chief of Police
112 Mystic St.
Arlington, MA 02474
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019
Media Contact: Kelsey Bode
Email: [email protected]
Arlington Police Department’s Diane Welch Named Massachusetts Animal Control Officer of the Year
ARLINGTON— Acting Chief Julie Flaherty is pleased to announce that Officer Diane Welch has been named Massachusetts Animal Control Officer of the Year 2019.
Nominated for the award by Arlington residents, ACO Welch will be recognized at the Animal Control Officers Association of Massachusetts (ACOAM) Certification Academy Graduation Ceremony and Awards Banquet on Friday, Oct. 25 at the Courtyard by Marriott in Marlborough, along with co-recipient of the award, Milton Police Department ACO Nancy Bersani.
ACO Welch will be among those graduating from the ACOAM Certification Academy, a 96 hour, 12 week program which trains officers in a variety of areas, including animal capture techniques and strategies, livestock and exotic animal handling, wildlife issues, dog bite prevention, animal health inspector duties, rabies protocol and local bylaws and ordinances.
“We’re incredibly proud of ACO Welch, and the reputation she has built with our community as a kind, skilled animal control officer,” Acting Chief Flaherty said. “We are so fortunate to have an ACO here in Arlington who has an incredible talent for working with animals, and also has the drive to include and educate our community as well.”
The annual Massachussetts ACO of the Year award is given by the Animal Rescue League of Boston and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. It recognizes exemplary officers who have a dedicated, humane attitude, enforce pet responsibility laws appropriately, conduct public awareness and human education programs and develop partnerships with other agencies that work with animals.
ACO Welch was sworn in as the town’s ACO in July 2018, and since then has become well known in Arlington for her expertise working with animals and sense of community. Since she began her role in Arlington, ACO Welch has worked with local volunteers and trained them to transport injured animals to animal hospitals and assist when cats and dogs are missing or found, crafted educational programming for residents including a ‘Living with Coyotes’ event, and has utilized social media to further promote the humane treatment of animals and provide additional educational opportunities. Each month, she posts a Facebook newsletter, including videos of animals, at the Facebook page @ArlingtonMassachusettsAnimalControl.
Additionally, ACO Welch has made numerous visits to schools and local scout troops to discuss animal care and wildlife support.
“In my 63 years, spent in rural, urban, and suburban settings in Massachusetts, I cannot think of another ACO I have known by name. I have certainly called them on occasion, and while almost all were helpful, none had the community presence and obvious total commitment to animals and to people that Diane Welch has,” wrote Amanda Gazin, an Arlington resident, in the application nominating ACO Welch for the award.
ACO Welch has a wealth of experience working with animals, and has been a state and federally licensed falconer for 25 years. She has been called upon by the Massachusetts State Police numerous times to help capture and rescue injured birds of prey in the Danvers area, and previously served as the president of the Massachusetts Falconry and Hawk Trust. She also owns a dog walking and training business, and has several years of experience working for the Burlington Science Center, where she cared for more than 60 animals, including snapping turtles and owls.