If you've ever been on Hingham Pinboard (or basically if you live in Hingham and have not been hiding under a rock), you've heard of Leslie Badger. Leslie is Hingham's Animal Control Officer (ACO) and has managed every type of crisis from the legend of the mountain lion to a stuffed pink unicorn to killer bees in Hingham Square (while they may not have been "killer bees" exactly, there were enough of them to warrant a full beekeeper suit to combat). Join us in learning more about the woman behind the badge and hear about some of her "pet peeves" along the way.
What town do you live in? Where are you from?
I grew up in Duxbury but now live on the Hingham/Weymouth line. It’s required for me to live close so I can respond to Animal Control calls quickly at any time of day.
How long have you been on the job?
I've worked for 10 years as the Animal Control officer and before that I worked as an assistant ACO in another town. I've always loved animals, so it's a given my career would revolve around.
Best call you've ever received?
A call came into HPD as a break and enter because the caller arrived home and there was broken glass and the house was a mess. I arrived and found a turkey passed out cold on her dining room floor. Since there were no open doors or broken windows that I could first see, the caller was convinced that someone broke in and placed a turkey inside her house.
After I looked around the house I found an open window in the living room down the hall that was covered by curtains and I knew that the turkey had flown in through the window. The two funniest parts of the call were her dog who just laid on the bed with an "I didn't do it" look on his face and the fact that she found a turkey on her dining room floor a month before Thanksgiving.
Another one was when a woman found an injured turkey so she wrapped it in her jacket to transport to New England wildlife center. Once she got the turkey in her back seat and started driving, the turkey woke up and went nuts. The turkey locked the doors of the car so the woman could not open the doors. People thought she was being attacked in her own car. Police, Fire and Animal Control responded.
If you could provide one piece of information to the community, what would it be?
One of the big ones is that unless you see a wild animal falling down and bleeding out, let it be. Animals are out more and more in the daytime because they have to keep moving and find food and shelter. Babies, just like human babies, have to be fed around the clock when they are first born which also explains why they are seen so much during baby season. Another reason is that in winter time and adults need to find food or find better shelter from the elements ... just because you see an animal during the day running through a your neighborhood or yard does not mean it is rabid.
What do you love most about Hingham?
My favorite thing about Hingham is the residents. To be trusted and believed in by your residents is a huge thing as an ACO and I am so humbled and grateful for it. The community believes in what I am trying to accomplish, which is to keep both humans and animals safe. As an ACO I might not always make everyone happy, but I have laws to enforce and safety to think about every day. I’ve seen a lot as an ACO and if I can prevent another person, family or animal from some of the tragedies, sadness or injuries I’ve witnessed over these 10 years I will always do what it takes, as it is my way of showing my sincere thank you for believing in me, even when we are dealing with tough issues in Hingham like to leash or not leash your dogs.
Is there a type of animal that you are afraid of?
Spiders. Definitely spiders. And snakes aren't my favorite, but I can deal with them, because I kind of have too.
If you had a different career, what would it be?
If I could chose a different career, it would definitely be outdoors, recreational, and involve exploring new areas. I love being out in the wild, I love kayaking, swimming, rock climbing, horseback riding and pretty much anything that centers around nature. I guess I'm already in the right job.
What is one thing on your bucket list?
One thing on my bucket list was to go to the west coast. I went to Seattle two years ago and touched the Pacific Ocean for the first time and cannot wait to touch or swim in it again in new areas up and down the west coast. Top on my bucket list Travel more. I dedicate most of my time being here for my job and family. I’d love to check off Europe, Africa and Australia and so many other places around the world. A couple of fun or unique bucket list items of mine are to complete a triathlon, which I’m already training for and meet a real live Badger up close. Seeing as my last name is Badger, I might as well meet one right?!
Do you have a hidden talent?
I don’t know about hidden talents, but I enjoy practicing yoga, reading, board games, movies, listening to all kinds of music, going antiquing (ok, so I cried when the antique shop closed by my house, it was my favorite early morning weekend thing, walk down check for new things in the store, eat breakfast across the street and grab a hot cocoa or tea to walk home with my new finds). Now its make a smoothie, hit the road till I find a cool antique place to check out. I love learning about history, especially how we evolved, but even more so the things we use have evolved, I think its cause it makes me appreciate all things I have now even more. I guess all those things are not talents, but things that I think usually surprise most people about me, seeing as I’m definitely a total tomboy on the outside.
Favorite vacation spot?
Anywhere that has a beach to swim and the warm sunshine is number one on my vacation list, second would be vacations that allow for adventures. Two summers ago I spent time kayaking to and exploring the Boston Harbor Islands with a friend, we made it to eight so far, last summer was climbing and crossing off peaks in NH. This summer I actually don’t have any big adventures to check off, I have actually been making sure to center my summer around spending time with my immediate family. I don’t get to see them as much since they don’t live in mass full time anymore. Therefore, while everyone is home this summer I want to make time to see them when I’m off from work. My Grandmother is a very important person in my life and every day I get with her has been a gift, so no big vacations or adventures this summer.
What do you think about Pinboard?
Ohh yes, Pinboard, ok well it has definitely changed the way I do my job as an ACO good and bad for sure. The good is that it definitely helps getting important information out about animals safety etc, it helps in reunited lost pets with their owners, I think it has also helped me learn so much more about my residents and I think they have also gotten to know me better. The bad it’s unfortunately has become the wrong way to report calls, I’ve tried and I know the Admins have tried to get the message out, but I’m still always being tagged. When there is an actual animal emergency, it is very important that people call the Hingham Police dispatch 911 or 781-749-1212 opt 0 or my office at 781-741-1490. That is the best and correct way to reach me. I hate to say it, but I’m not always on and can not always respond to posts. If someone has a true emergency and they are waiting for a response that is time taken way from helping to fix or stop that emergency.