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Duties of an Animal Control Officer

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Although the job title varies in different communities, the animal control officer, humane officer, animal services officer, and humane investigator all work to protect stray, injured, abused, and unwanted animals. However, the rewards of protecting the health and safety of animals and humans are many, including:

  • Opportunities to rescue animals and prosecute individuals who abuse them
  • Provide impounded animals with humane care at the shelter
  • Educate the public about pet overpopulation and responsible pet ownership
  • Grant humane and dignified euthanasia procedures to injured and sick animals

Animal control officers require knowledge of anti-cruelty procedures, animal diseases, zoonotic diseases, state laws, health and safety standards, and basic rules of criminal procedures.They may sometimes find themselves in potentially dangerous situations involving stray animals, injured wildlife, or animal owners.

A large portion of the position involves education of the public on responsible pet ownership, animal laws, and health and safety issues. The position may also include presentations to schools, working with social services or law enforcement agencies, and others to help protect people and pets in the family. Animal control officers also inspect animal-related businesses to ensure animals are receiving adequate care, rescue trapped or injured animals, investigate animal bites and cruelty complaints, issue citations and submit files for prosecution of people who violate animal-related laws. 

Typically, a high school education may be adequate for entry-level positions with on-the-job-training as a common condition for employment. There are several certifications and academies that meet requirements for employment. A valid driver's license and clean driving record are basic job requirements as are good physical health and the ability to handle and examine different types of animals.

A long-term commitment in Animal Control requires tremendous dedication to the animals and the public. Volunteering at your local animal shelter may help you decide if this is the right career for you.