Sergeant Cliff Ballena is a native of Northern Virginia. He graduated in May 2017 from Virginia Commonwealth University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Forensic Science. Cliff has had a strong passion for animals from an early age. He has worked in multiple local dog kennels, and earned his way up to a supervisor position. Even while he was busy working part-time and taking courses as a full-time student, Cliff still found himself drawn back to animals, and decided to dedicate his spare time volunteering at the Richmond SPCA. It is through these positions that he gained experience with domestic animal behavior, domestic animal restraint and handling, animal illnesses, and public communication.  

Cliff joined the Animal Welfare league in September 2017 as a Deputy Animal Control Officer, becoming the Sergeant of the department in 2019. Cliff is dedicated, and takes pride in his ability to familiarize himself with all of Arlington’s parks and neighborhoods. Cliff takes a special interest in native wildlife conservation, holding a state permit to rehab himself, and works to build community relationships throughout the County. When squirrel season comes you will most likely find Cliff holding a baby squirrel and feeding them as they require multiple feedings during the day. Cliff shares his home with his wife, his dog Brownie (AWLA Alum), and sometimes squirrels until they are ready to be released.