GREENFIELD — After six-and-a-half years, Jeff Leffel is saying goodbye to animal management.
But he isn’t going far.
While Leffel, director of Greenfield-Hancock County Animal Management, is stepping down, he’s not leaving the city of Greenfield. He has accepted a position as an apprentice plant operator at the city’s wastewater plant.
Leffel’s five-year tenure as director of animal management will come to a close at the end of the week, and Mayor Chuck Fewell said the city’s works board will begin searching for a new director at that time.
Throughout the years, Leffel moved up the ranks at animal management. He started as a shelter assistant, then became an animal control officer and was appointed director in 2010. He is credited with lowering the department’s euthanization rate since that time and spearheading a yearly event for pet owners.
Now, Leffel is leaving for personal reasons.
He said he and his wife discussed the move and decided stepping away was what was in his and his family’s best interest.
But he said he loves the city of Greenfield and wanted to remain an employee, so when a position at the wastewater plant opened, he approached Fewell about applying.
The board of works approved his transfer at a recent meeting.
“It’s an opportunity to stay with the city and still learn something new,” Leffel said. “A window opened up, and I looked through.”
He begins at the wastewater plant Monday and hopes to become a licensed plant operator over time.
Fewell said Leffel has a lot to be proud of. He’s a good, hardworking employee.
“I think he’s been excellent in that position,” Fewell said. “I’m going to continue to utilize him if I need something, even though he’s moving to the wastewater position.”
In his time as director, Leffel has overseen changes that have made the department more efficient, he said.
With help from a grant from the Hancock County Community Foundation, he lowered the shelter’s adoption fee to $25.
And euthanasia rates have dropped from 40 percent to 10 percent.
He said that success came from working with area rescue groups to place animals that might have otherwise been put down.
“I’m proud of that,” he said. “I’ve really, really loved what I’ve done here.”
Under his direction, the department also created Dog Days of Summer, an annual event that brings together a variety of services and vendors for pet owners to meet with in one place.
But Leffel doesn’t take credit for it all. He’s worked with a lot of great people over the years, he said.
“It was a tough decision, but like I said, I think it’s best,” he said.