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Wildlife ‘Warrior’: Longtime animal control officer retires

William Warrior
Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Animal Control Officer William Warrior bonds with a canine friend at Palo Alto Animal Services.

In 1974, when William Warrior began working as a wildlife rescue volunteer at the Palo Alto animal shelter, a 6-foot-tall redwood fence encircled the Bayshore Road property. Staff members had yet to issue him a key, and they seemed to accept his habit of scaling the fence to gain entry. 

“The volunteer guidelines were pretty loose back then – or nonexistent,” said Warrior, a Mountain View resident. “Now it’s an 8-foot-high, barbed-wire fence with security cameras. Nobody’s climbing over it anymore.”

Warrior, who was hired in 1979 as an animal control officer, eventually earned his own key, but he turned it in with his badge late last month. After more than four decades of rescuing stray dogs from traffic, fishing wayward ducks out of swimming pools and administering aid to window-stunned birds, he retired from Palo Alto Animal Services April 30.

Warrior and his canine companion Lilly were a constant presence throughout Palo Alto and Animal Services contract cities Los Altos and Los Altos Hills, and he will be missed, said lead animal control officer Cody Macartney, who worked with him for more than 17 years.

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Courtesy of William Warrior
Warrior with his dog, Lilly.

“He’s just been drawn to helping animals,” Macartney said. “We all are, obviously, to do this, but to do this for so long definitely speaks to his love of animals.”

Warrior said he began thinking about retirement last year, when he felt he had reached a sort of physical and emotional plateau.

“I wasn’t missing or really failing on anything, but it just seemed around August to kind of hit me that I didn’t have a whole lot left,” he said. “So the last nine months, I was doing the best I could with whatever calls were coming my way. And I had some fun little rescues.”

They include coming to the aid of a kitten perched 30 feet off the ground in a downtown Palo Alto tree. By jury-rigging a telescoping fruit picker with a snare, Warrior was able to harness the kitten around its middle and lower it down to safety. The method worked so well that the city purchased similar tools for each Animal Services truck.

Warrior’s second-to-last shift spanned 12 hours and ended at 10 p.m. A Los Altos family called to report a severely injured raccoon drinking from their swimming pool. After a bit of a struggle, Warrior secured the animal and transported it back to Animal Services, where it was humanely euthanized.

“I felt like I was doing something valuable at the end, working a call like that and not having the raccoon linger and die somewhere in some kind of prolonged state,” he said.

Ambassador for animals

Palo Alto City Council members and staff May 4 recognized Warrior, the longest-serving employee in the 126-year history of the Palo Alto Police Department, with a proclamation read during their teleconferenced weekly meeting.

“Over the span of his remarkable career, he has rescued and helped tens of thousands of stray, sick and injured domestic and wild animals, investigated countless tragic cases of criminal animal abuse and neglect and served as an ambassador and advocate for animals and wildlife through the mid-Peninsula,” City Manager Ed Shikada said. “He has been a trusted partner, a valued employee and a friend.”

Shikada read the proclamation at the end of the meeting, and Warrior waited five hours on standby to hear it at approximately 11 p.m. When it came time for him to respond, his connection failed and his voice came through as a high-pitched squeak no one could understand.

He later explained what he intended to say.

“It was just to thank the city and the city council for giving me a career and a good living and putting up with me,” Warrior said. “At times, I’m sure, I was exasperating to deal with, and they would be clearly aware of those times.”

Ever-wary of becoming too idle, Warrior said he plans to stay active in retirement by continuing to serve as a volunteer docent at the Angel Island Immigration Center and rehearsing with the taiko drummers at the Palo Alto Buddhist temple, where he and his wife, Pam, are active members. And he’d like to attend as many San Francisco Giants games as possible.

“So putting in work of a sort that’s valuable to the community and balancing it out with some fun time as well,” he said.

For more information, visit Warrior’s website at roxanagraphs.us.

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