Hoyet Hodgens grew up in Chelsea where he still lives today with Arla, his wife of 25 years. They have four kids, Ellen, Christine, Lauren, and Will, and a grandbaby due in September. Hoyet started with the City of Alabaster over 28 years ago—his first job was working at the Parks and Recreation Department. He then transferred to the Public Works Department driving a boom truck while also working part time in Animal Control. After a few years, Animal Control was turned over to the police department where Hoyet became the first official Animal Control Officer for the City of Alabaster in 2001.

Zachary Payne became the city’s second animal control officer this past January. Zac lives in Alabaster with his wife Ashley and three kids Marcie, Mikayla, and Brayden. He grew up in Pelham, graduating from Pelham High School in 2006. Prior to this current position, Zac worked in sales and retail for years, which gave him plenty of opportunities to communicate with the public.

Alabaster Connection asked Officers Hodgens and Payne about their work and how to keep pets respectfully and peacefully in our community.

Why this job?

Zac: I love animals, and I took this job to help and protect both the community and the animals.

What is a typical day like? 

Hoyet: A typical day working in Animal Control is fielding calls, taking statements, and visiting the scenes. Service calls include animals loose in the area, sick and hurt, injured wildlife, lost or found pets, barking dogs, animal bites, animal neglect, and all kinds of other scenarios that come up.

Is there something pet owners can do to help train their pets not to bark all the time?

 Zac: There are devices you can find online that release a high-pitched noise similar to that of a dog whistle. The idea is to get the dog’s attention consistently and then work towards breaking the unwanted habit. This may not work for all dogs, so in that case look for local dog trainers in your area as well.

What kinds of animals have you dealt with over the years?

Hoyet: I have had the pleasure of working with dogs, cats, possums, raccoons, bats, owls, turtle/tortoises, snakes, pigs, and chickens. I have been bitten four times in my career.

What dogs make the best pets?

Hoyet: This is a tough question mainly because the breed of dog chosen should relate to the lifestyle of the owner. All dogs are different, so if you’re going to get a dog, make sure you are able to meet the requirements that particular breed calls for.

What do you do for fun?

Zac:  I play church softball every year, and I love spending time with my family.

Hoyet: During my off time, I am all about family. We have a long history of preachers, teachers, and Southern gospel music singers in our family. Our whole family enjoys singing and playing music. Like it says in John 12:32: “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”  Any time spent with family is a blessing.  

What is something surprising about this job that you did not necessarily anticipate?

Zac: I’d have to say it’s the immense amount of support I’ve received from the police department. They truly are a family and they’ve been wonderful to work with.


What should a neighbor do when a dog won’t stop barking?

If a dog is barking excessively, contact the Alabaster Police and request an officer or Animal Control to respond to the area. You can request that a police report be made on your behalf concerning the barking.  Then Animal Control will deliver a 10-day notice to the owner to comply.  After the 10-day notice expires, and you hear the barking continuously again, you can pick up a copy of your police report from the station and take it to the Magistrate’s office, and they will assist you.  If the officer hears the barking, an attempt will be made to contact the owner. The officer also will make a police report and have animal control deliver a 10-day notice to the owner. After the 10-day notice expires, and the officer receives another call and hears the barking again the owner may be cited for the violation.

What if a dog is scary and seems like it might bite someone?

Keep your distance and don’t approach it. Secondly, contact Animal Control and let us come out and evaluate the situation and the dog.

If someone is bitten by a dog, what should they do?

First, contact emergency services and get the wound checked out. Then call the police to fill out a report. And also call Animal Control.

Any extra advice to offer about taking care of pets?

Please remember not to leave your animals in the car. On an 80-degree day, even with the windows down, the temperature of the car can reach 102 degrees in 10 minutes!

How do I find out if animal control has my pet, and what do I do next?

If your pet is chipped/tagged then we will attempt to contact you. Or to find out if we have your pet, call 205664-6761 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. If it’s after hours, a holiday, or during the weekends go to cityofalabaster.com/420/Animal-Control-Pickup-Form fill out the online form, and call the dispatch. Pets that have ID will be taken to the city kennel and held for owner pick up.  The kennel is off of 6th AV SW – 100 Maintenance Drive, Alabaster behind Buck Creek Park. If there is no identification, we turn the animal over to the Shelby Humane Society where they will hold it for seven days.

Is it a law that animal waste has to be picked up?

Yes, it is. Please pick up your animal’s waste and dispose of it properly.

Is there a rule for cats being outside?

Yes, refer to the leash laws on the City of Alabaster website. It does not only apply to dogs.

What to do about wildlife?

Animal Control does not remove wildlife from private property. For more help including a complete listing of permitted Animal Control Operators by County visit outdooralabama.com/wildlife-management-programs/alabama-nuisance-animal-control.

How do I reach animal control?

The main number is 205-664-6761.  If it’s an emergency, call 911 to have an officer respond.

Please remember not to leave your animals in the car. On an 80-degree day, even with the windows down, the temperature of the car can reach 102 degrees in 10 minutes!