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Jennifer Burleson, the City of Live Oak’s animal control officer, receives recognition from Mayor Frank Davis, left, at last week’s city council meeting. Andy Townsend, the city’s public works director, and City Manager Ron Williams, right, also praised her work.

LIVE OAK — For the second time in three years, the city’s animal control officer has been recognized for her work.

Jennifer Burleson, who has served as the animal control officer since 2016, was named the Covenant Pet Trust Animal Advocate of the Year for 2019. She previously won the award from the Lake City-based organization in 2017.

“We are so proud and amazed by the difference Jennifer has made in the animal rescue community,” Pam Taylor, vice president and a founding director of the Pet Trust, said in a release. “She is very well respected by her peers as well as the members of the Live Oak community.”

Mayor Frank Davis recognized Burleson for the honor during the city council’s Feb. 11 meeting.

“The work Jennifer does is unique in the view of many of us,” City Manager Ron Williams said following Davis’ recognition. “But it’s something that you have to care from your heart. When you see her work every day and you see the effort she puts forth to make sure animals are taken care of, animals are placed, animals are transferred to a safe home, it’s just amazing.

“I think it’s a great recognition.”

Burleson was nominated for the honor by members of the community and was selected from nominees across North Florida, including Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Suwannee and Union counties.

She will be recognized as part of the Covenant Pet Trust’s annual celebration of dogs, The WuffStock Festival, which is scheduled for Saturday at Darby Pavilion in Lake City. The public is invited to attend.

During 2019, more than 400 animals came through the Live Oak shelter. Of those, more than 300 were transferred to rescues, while 38 were adopted from the shelter and 40 were returned home. Burleson said those transfers had a 100% adoption rate.

“Sometimes it just takes a different set of eyes,” she said, adding sending to metropolitan areas has helped as well.

There were only three cases of euthanasia at the Live Oak shelter.

“In many places, euthanasia is a big part of this business,” Williams added. “Jennifer does not believe in that part of the work. So her efforts in finding solutions is exemplary.”

Andy Townsend, the city’s public works director who oversees Burleson, added: “Other cities try to emulate how she does things here in the city.”

Covenant Pet Trust’s mission is to prevent neglect, abuse and euthanasia of former household pets.

The award was sponsored by Get Along Dachshund rescue, a regional speciality dog rescue organization that focuses on rescues and future placement of senior or hard to place dachsunds.

Jamie Wachter is the editor of the Suwannee Democrat, Jasper News and Mayo Free Press.

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