Mark Estrada is Oak Forest's new following his appointment by the on Aug. 28. Estrada had been working as the city's part-time animal control officer since July.
Estrada was one of 12 applicants for the animal control officer gig, and was selected due to his years of experience with the Animal Welfare League in Chicago Ridge.
Estrada is responsible for enforcing city codes that pertain to wild and domestic animals. The officer also investigates complaints of animal abuse within the city. Typical ordinance violations include:
- Animals running at large
- Nuisance barking
- No city animal license
- No rabies vaccination
- Exceeding the number of animals allowed
- Keeping of prohibited animals
Estrada said that he's worked with the league for the past 12 years and before that developed a love of animals through watching his mother, who is also an animal lover. He said that as a child, he and his mother would often rescue strays, help injured animals on the side of the road and do anything else they could to help.
“My mom liked animals and so I go into working with animals,” Estrada said.
In his years of experience, Estrada said that he's seen a lot of outlandish animal situations, but there was one case that took the cake.
“[A resident] was taking their pool down and it was about halfway full, and there was a 5-foot alligator in the pool,” he said. “It was up here, in one of the nearby neighborhoods.”
During his time as Oak Forest's animal control officer, one topic consistently sneaks up on Estrada: skunks. There are several tips he offers residents to curtail skunks in their yards.
“Coyote urine, which you can purchase from a garden center, to prevent them because it indicates a predator,” he said. “It's not guaranteed to work, but it can help.”
He added that to further prevent skunks, residents should make sure all decks and sheds are fully sealed off so that the animals cannot get into them. If skunks have already made a home in or around residents' homes, he said there's only one solution.
“The best thing I can recommend is contacting a licensed trapper,” he said. “Someone who's licensed with the state. They can trap and relocate them without hurting the animal.”
If you need to reach animal control, call 708-687-1376.