Animal Control Officer Career Profile

An animal control officer works in pet shelters and municipal pounds to ensure that lost, stray or neglected animals are treated humanely and investigate cases of animal cruelty and neglect. 

Basic Tasks

An animal control officer will be responsible for investigating suspected cases of abuse, cruelty and neglect towards animals. An animal control officer will also investigate complaints about dog bites and violations of the leash laws, if applicable in that area. Depending on where you live, you may have to travel many miles, possible several hundred in a week, investigating cases. You will also be expected to write reports, maintain documentation and files.

The types of animals that the animal control officer will see will depend on where the officer lives: if you live in a rural area, you will have to have a knowledge of domesticated farm animals, in addition to the usual household pets found in cities. You may also have to deal with the occasional wild animal, such as coyotes, bears or mountain lions. As an animal control officer, you may have to complete the required work to have an animal trapping license.

Within the shelter or pound facility, the animal control officer will be responsible for taking care of animals within the care of the facility. Depending on the facility where you work, an animal control officer may also be responsible for euthanizing animals that are unwanted, too old or very ill. The animal control officer will also have to deal with customers who come to the facility to recover their lost or stray animals. To euthanize pets, you will have to have a valid euthanasia technician certification.

Hazards

If you love animals, it may be difficult to euthanize them, no matter how logical the reason. In addition, you will have to deal with panicked, feral and wild animals that can behave unpredictably, which means you may be bruised, scratched or bitten on occasion. You may also expect that some people do not want to have their animals removed, and they may be abusive, both physically and verbally toward you.

Different Types of Animal Control Officers

Some animal control officers work with animal shelters to care for animals and are also involved in public education for proper care. There is also a different type of animal control officer, there are those that are affiliated with police forces and investigate claims of abuse and neglect. These animal control officers will also pursue additional law enforcement training so they can prepare documentation that is suitable for an investigation. These officers will also be involved in the trapping of animals, both domestic and wild, should the need occur.

Wages

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nationwide average salary for animal control workers is fifteen dollars an hour, but this can vary greatly between states with workers in Maine making an average of eleven dollars an hour, whereas workers in Alaska, California and Nevada can make over twenty dollars an hour.