After 21 years of service to the city of Waxahachie and its residents, Cindi Walters recently retired from her post as senior animal control officer. As a city worker, she was known for her strong work ethic, positive nature and caring heart.

“I have enjoyed working for the city and it has been a lot of fun. The last few years I haven’t been out on the street much. It was more of just working in the office and such,” she said. “When I did go out I really didn’t need to wear a uniform because people would know who I am.

“I think that the other employees were shocked, first of all, that I decided to leave. I was really thinking of waiting until I had been here for 25 years,” said Walters, whose last day was Feb. 28. “But my main thing is that I have had back surgery and shoulder surgery with this job and the last few months they have been hurting. My husband’s uncle also got really sick on us, so this kind of frees me up to go down and check on him. Family always does come first, but I did love my job.”

As for retirement, there are items she wants to accomplish around the house. She and her husband act as the youth directors for Ranch House Cowboy Church in Maypearl and will be getting the youth ready to go to camp.

The part of the job Walters will miss is being able to work with residents on a daily basis to help with any problems or concerns they had about their pets.

“Cindi has got a way of working with the public and if at all possible working to get the animals back to the owners. If the worst case where there is an accident and the pet is deceased she had a real knack of calming the person down. She is able to portray her true feelings. She has compassion not only with pets that have owners but with the stray animals that we have and would do her best to adopt them out,” director of environmental health Sonny Wilson said.

“She was a tremendous asset to myself and our citizens,” he said. “The thing about being a city employee, especially in animal control, is there is a lot of thankless jobs that have to be done. The really good employees are the ones that do their job, maintain the city, keep everything in balance and never complain. Cindi was the very best that I have ever had at that.”

Apart from going out on animal calls, Walters ran the shelter, which involved taking animals in, giving them proper care and adopting them out as well as organizational skills. She was responsible for the upkeep of the shelter and staying within the budget.

Walters encourages residents to have good, two-way communication with their neighbors who have pets. By talking with your neighbors and having an open line of communication a lot of problems can be solved, such as a barking dog, before having to bring animal control officers out to a residence, she said, saying she also encourages people to listen to what their animals are saying to them. While they can’t sit up and talk, they can communicate in both verbal and nonverbal ways. It’s important to listen, she said.

While most of the calls Walters went on were routine, there were a few in the odd and unusual category. One particular call involved a snapping turtle that was blocking the entrance to the school administration building on Gibson Street. The turtle weighed about 50 pounds and was preventing anyone from entering the building.

Wilson said he was at the office when he heard Walters call for assistance, saying that she had a “furious turtle.” Since they were shorthanded at the time, Wilson went over to help.

“I get over there and I was thinking that it could not be that bad. Cindi was saying that this thing was pretty mean and she couldn’t get the catchpole on it. So I said, ‘Here, let me help you.’ So I go over there with the catchpole and I’m sneaking up on it.

“I swear, his head went inside the shell and came up out the other way. The next thing you know he had got ahead of the catchpole with his mouth and snapped down on that cable. He was hissing and the hair on my arms was standing straight up. I dropped the pole and ran like a little schoolgirl,” Wilson said.

The turtle was hissing and looking at them as if to say, “Don’t you dare get close to me,” Wilson said, saying that, eventually, he and Walters were able to secure the animal and release it off-site.

Wilson said that when the turtle would hiss he would look at you saying don’t you dare get close to me.

Contact Andrew at andrew.branca@wninews.com or 469-517-1458.