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Billerica and Tewksbury Animal Control Officer Ashley Chmiel Named “ACO of the Year”

Annual Award Honors Animal Control Officer who Goes Above and Beyond for Animals, their Community 

BILLERICA, Mass. Nov. 1, 2022  – The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) and the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) are proud to announce that Billerica and Tewksbury Animal Control Officer (ACO) Ashley Chmiel has been named Animal Control Officer of the Year for 2022.

MSPCA and the ARL established the ACO of the Year award to honor an animal control officer whose efforts in their local community throughout the year have promoted responsible pet ownership by:

  • manifesting a dedicated, humane attitude toward the treatment and well-being of all animals
  • effectively enforcing pet responsibility laws
  • conducting public awareness and humane education programs
  • maintaining cooperative working relationships with other agencies involved with animals, such as state and local government departments, other ACOs, and animal protection groups

The award was presented Friday, October 28, at the annual banquet held by the Animal Control Officers Association of Massachusetts.

Officer Chmiel’s nominations for ACO of the Year included a number of accolades, heralding her dedication to animals and community, professionalism, and compassion. Officer Chmiel was also noted for her excellent communication and organization skills.

One of her main goals is to educate pet owners of responsibility laws and help them make necessary changes, hoping to only enforce or charge if the sharing of information and resources doesn’t solve issues. She often posts on the Billerica & Tewksbury ACO Facebook page with educational information, and the team has also been developing plans to attend schools to conduct dog bite prevention classes.

Officer Chmiel was called to visit a home with 97 cats after Tewksbury Police and Fire observed the conditions during a medical emergency. Ashley coordinated this response by contacting non-profit organizations to assist in the collection cats at the home, as well as splitting the intake so as not to over-burden one location. On top of the amount of collaborative effort and planning, Officer Chmiel spent a lot of time communicating with the owner, who was going through one of the hardest moments of his life, having just lost his wife, who was the caretaker of the cats. Ashley knew that going from a home full of animals to a complete empty nest would be difficult for this owner, and advocated for his well-being by working with the shelters and veterinarians to identify two cats he could take back after being treated.

It takes a lot of compassion and understanding to realize how detrimental it would be to deprive him of pets altogether. Since the sanitary status of the home needed improvement before any cats moved back, she also worked with the Board of Health and professional cleaners.

“It’s always an honor for ARL and MSPCA to be able to recognize the contributions of those on the front lines with the ACO of the Year Award” said Ally Blanck, director of advocacy for ARL. “Ashley goes above and beyond in providing education and resources. As demonstrated by her handling a challenging situation with compassion, she truly supports animal welfare and helps those in her community.”

“We are excited to recognize Ashley as the ACO of the Year. She exemplifies the traits ARL and MSPCA look for each year in an ACO,” stated Kara Holmquist, director of advocacy for the MSPCA. “When we gave out the award last week, many people came up to me to let me know that Officer Chmiel was a great choice and have shared stories about her work with me.”


The MSPCA-Angell is a national and international leader in animal protection and veterinary medicine and provides direct hands-on care for thousands of animals each year. Founded in 1868, it is the second-oldest humane society in the United States. Services include animal protection and adoption, advocacy, humane education, law enforcement, and world-class veterinary care. The MSPCA-Angell is a private, non-profit organization. It does not receive any government funding nor is it funded or operated by any national humane organization. The MSPCA-Angell relies solely on the support and contributions from individuals who care about animals. Please visit and like us on Facebook at


The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is an unwavering champion for animals in need, committed to keeping them safe and healthy in habitats and homes. Founded in 1899, ARL provides high-quality veterinary care, adoption, and rescue services; while also confronting the root causes of animal cruelty and neglect through innovative community programs, police investigations, and public advocacy. In 2021, ARL served over 23,000 animals throughout Massachusetts. ARL is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. The Animal Rescue League of Boston does not receive government grants or public funding and relies on the generosity of our supporters to help animals in need. For more information please visit us online at; and be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.