Animal control officer Steven Morales’ schedule changes constantly. From replying to complaints to responding to calls about stranded animals, he doesn’t have a typical day at Philly’s Animal Care & Control Team. Though it can get hectic at times, the work he does can be rewarding and something he wants to continue to do.

JEVS Human Services held its 19th Annual Strictly Business Awards late last week, where Morales received the inspiration award for working hard and continuing on a positive path, despite his challenging past. JEVS helps people with physical, emotional and developmental challenges, as well as those who are unemployed or underemployed.

It was not an easy road for Morales to get where he is now. The Germantown resident has lived in the city all his life, but found himself in prison in his early 20s and spent part of the next two decades in and out of prison on drug charges.

While behind bars, Morales was able to connect with JEVS Human Services and a program called New Leash on Life, which teaches inmates to care for and socialize at-risk shelter dogs to enhance their adoptability.

Morales socialized, trained and rehabilitated a rescue dog named Pavlov for eventual adoption. Once released, Morales started as an intern with New Leash on Life and worked in different positions before landing a job as an animal control officer with ACCT.

Before the awards ceremony, Morales discussed his current job as an animal control officer, his introduction to New Leash on Life and his plans moving forward.

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Dominique “Peak” Johnson is a North Philadelphia journalist. He is one of the founding editors and writers of the North Philly Metropolis, blogger for The Huffington Post and contributing writer to numerous online publications. Click here to learn more about Peak.