Animal control officers typically work for a local city or county agency or nonprofit humane society. Many people assume that those in animal control careers only work with domestic animals such as pet cats and dogs. However, the role of the animal control officer involves ensuring the good health and humane care of all animals kept as pets, which can include exotic animals depending on the local laws, and protecting humans from nuisance wildlife. It is not uncommon for animal control employment to bring you close to livestock, lizards, parrots, and large snakes. You may also encounter the illegally kept (and in some states legally kept) bobcat, skunk, or tiger.
Animal Control Job Duties
Most importantly, the position of animal control officer is typically a law enforcement position. Persons in this position are responsible for all aspects of legal issues involving animal care. Other responsibilities include direct animal care and public safety.
Job duties include:
- *Capture and restrain domestic and wild animals as needed
- *Inspect animal housing and enforce local laws regarding animal housing and care
- *Carcass removal from roadways
- *Assist veterinarians and veterinary technicians in medical exams, medical procedures, and euthanasia as needed
- *Testify in court regarding facts related to violations of local animal control regulations and laws
- *Assist in animal care at shelter as needed
- *Public outreach presentations to schools and other groups
Most animal control staff have a set schedule working 8 to 5. If the agency can afford extra coverage, there may be minimal staffing after hours and on weekends as well. The job is not without risks. Encounters with animals not inclined to trust humans does mean you will probably get bit and scratched as a normal part of any day on the job. Much of the day is spent on patrol and driving to pick up animals and then dropping them off at the shelter. You will also be exposed to zoonotic diseases such as rabies.
Animal Control Careers Salary
Starting salaries for animal control officers are in the range of $25,000 to $35,000. Supervisors may earn in the range of $50,000 to $60,000.
Education and Experience Requirements
Animal control careers start with college and entry level animal shelter jobs. Most county or city shelters have similar requirements and you will need both education and experience to apply for an animal control job. This includes some general college courses as well as courses taken in animal training, animal behavior, dog training, and/or veterinary medicine. Many agencies will require past paid experience working in an animal shelter for animal control employment consideration. You will also need to pass the state’s related certification for animal control officers. For example, in Texas this is the Basic Animal Control Certification and in California you must complete basic peace officer training.
Past law enforcement experience and animal care experience are highly desired. Experience working with the public, especially in tense situations, is also a plus when seeking animal control employment.
Where to Find Animal Control Jobs
You can find animal control employment by searching county and city job opening websites. Also check the job openings at local humane societies or SPCAs.