Mark Byers, animal-control officer for the Spanish Fork Police Department, has been named 1998 Employee of the Year by the Utah Animal Control Officers Association.

He will be honored today during the National Animal Control Association's training conference in Daytona, Fla.Byers was recommended for the honor by Spanish Fork Police Chief Dee Rosenbaum, with the nomination being supported by the state association. Byers has been the city's animal control officer since 1986 and is president of the state group.

"This is something that happens only once in a career," said Police Chief Dee Rosenbaum.

He said Byers has "done a tremendous job for the city," placing a lot of emphasis on licensing of animals. In 1992, Byers started a program to increase the number of licensed dogs in Spanish Fork. Byers was having trouble connecting injured or stray pets with their owners, Rosenbaum said.

As a result of that effort, the number of licensed animals has increased from about 200 a year to about 1,500. Byers holds regular clinics for animal owners. The clinics provide vaccination and other services. Byers has served in a number of capacities since 1989 in the state association.