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Critters Face Wily SoBo Adversary

Critters face a wily adversary in South Boston’s new Animal Control Officer.P aula Murray is a walking “how to” treasury. She knows secrets.

On the job six weeks, she already boasts a 4-2 skunk “spray” record.

“You have to talk to them, be easy and lay a blanket over the cage,” advises Murray with a smile.

Using that technique, four skunks sprayed not at all, and the remaining two leveled their noxious spray at blankets as Murray captured them for release into the wild.

In addition to her regular duties, Murray’s  “also had to dig a baby opossum out of a trashcan,” she added with a smile.

She accomplished that objective with a long set of cat tongs. The opossum, too, was released in the wild.

The job sparks no stress for Murray, a self-described animal lover.

“I’ve been around animals my entire life,” explained the Virgilina native.

Not only did she grow up on a farm, she and husband Gregory and two daughters, Terri, 11, and Tyra, 9, continue to call a farm home.

Horses, dogs, ducks and chickens are part of the Murray’s farm montage.

The new animal control officer is already proving to be a good friend to fellow officers, which recently included helping a county officer pursue and pen a 400-lb. hog.

“I love my job; it’s exciting,” said Murray, who never knows what the day will bring.

Due to the job’s unexpected demands, the officer is always armed.

A hunter since youth, she’s at ease with her arsenal, which includes a taser, a .40-caliber handgun, a 22 rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun.

The new animal control officer urges South Boston residents “to make sure to keep dogs and cats vaccinated, and to keep tags up to date.”

She also reminds citizens that the town has a leash law, and that dog owners need to control barking dogs.

Murray is on duty five days a week and may be reached through the South Boston Police Department at 575-4273. On weekends, an officer will respond, or he will contact Murray for emergencies.

Murray assumed her new post on August 31. The late Robert Tune previously held the office.