WESTPORT — The town has a new full-time animal control officer.

On Wednesday, police announced longtime Westporter Joseph Saponare has been effectively promoted to the position of the full-time animal control officer.

“If Joe looks familiar to you, it is most likely because he is a lifelong resident of Westport who has been serving the town with distinction for many years in various capacities,” Westport Police Information Officer Anthony Prezioso said in a statement.

Saponare has worked as the town’s animal control officer for the last 18 years. In this role, police said Saponare has been responsible for rescuing dogs and all sorts of other wildlife. He has also been employed by the police department as a traffic agent for the last 15 years, closely assisting police officers with traffic control duties around town.

Saponare has previously served as a volunteer fireman at the former Vigilant Hose Company that was located on Wilton Road. He eventually became the president of that organization and with that role came a significant amount of philanthropic work including the coordination of various fundraisers, police said.

Saponare was also a past president of the Westport Sons of Italy and with that organization he was heavily involved in planning the Westport Festival Italiano, police said.

Saponare is a Staples High School graduated who has cited many fond memories of growing up in town. According to police while attending a bus trip to New York sponsored by the Westport Police Athletic League Saponare was notified he couldn’t bring his dog. At the time he was 10 years old and was unable to board the bus with his pet dog Poochie, police said.

“It was carefully explained to Joe that animals were not allowed on the bus, causing him to reluctantly part ways with the dog until returning home,” Prezioso said. “He cites how ironic it was that many years later he would find himself working for that very same police department enforcing animal control laws.”

Saponare and his wife Lucille still call Westport home and just recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary together.