GC Top Public Servant: Stephen Nobles

Stephen Nobles is the Animal Services Officer in Yoakum. Nobles remembers a time when street dogs ran rampant in the community. "As a kid, we would have to run from them just to get to the city pool and then run again on the way back home." Nobles has been the Animal Services Officer in Yoakum for nearly 30 years and is proud of his work finding strays a home and reuniting lost animals to their owners.

Story by Jessica Rodrigo/jrodrigo@vicad.com

"For some people it's hard on the heart. It's really tough, sometimes, to see the things that you see," Stephen Nobles, animal services officer of Yoakum, said.

Living in Yoakum as a child, Nobles has vivid memories of literally running to the city swimming pool to avoid loose dogs. There were so many dogs running rampant in the neighborhood, he said people would carry sticks or clubs with them as they walked around.

Since he took the position 21 years ago, he says people can now walk or run freely in their neighborhoods without worrying about loose animals.

His workdays range anywhere from catching the biggest dogs imaginable to chasing down livestock that have wandered into traffic. He's even had the pleasure of answering calls from residents who have visitors of the slithering or eight-legged kind. One day, a lady called the Yoakum Police Department about a strange-looking spider on her back porch.

"It turns out to be a tarantula, and I'm arachnophobic," the tall, 49-year-old said. "But I still have to catch it. I can't just leave it there."

Police Chief Arthur Rogers agreed that Nobles has to work with more than just the usual array of household pets.

"He handles all kinds of different wildlife, too. There's horses, cattle, wild hogs, steer, virtually any animal," the chief said.

When it comes to handling all the different animals, Nobles has to make sure he is able handle the animals, big or small. Every few years, he is re-certified as an animal services officer. He's taken the re-certification seven times during his career, and said the position has changed a lot.

"It's gone from that old dog-catcher who rides around in a pickup truck and grabs the dogs off the streets to an animal control service population," he said. "You have to be a more broad animal spectrum type."

On his days off, Nobles spends his time working with his hands, perfecting the details found in woodwork, right down to the exact period time.

"I love to restore old furniture," he said. "My wife says when I go into the woodshop, time just stops."

He enjoys restoring pieces to keep in the home or to give to his friends and family. One of his most recent projects included the restoration of a large oak chair.

Meanwhile, if Patricia Nordstrand, a telecommunications operator at Yoakum Polica Department who nominated Nobles as an outstanding public servant, receives a call about an aggressive animal, she'll notify Nobles, who will head into Yoakum on his days off and help his fellow officers subdue or capture whatever animal is making a nuisance.

"He's a great guy, we can depend on him for everything," Nordstrand said. "He's always there."

What about your job do you enjoy the most?