Animal Cruelty Investigator Career Facts

An animal cruelty investigator can work for animal shelters, municipalities, non-profit organizations and law enforcement to examine claims of animal cruelty, abuse and neglect. Many workers in this career have investigator training and experience working with animals.

Basic Tasks

An animal cruelty investigator will handle the documentation, questioning and examination of an animal or the animal's site when describing a base of animal cruelty. Animal cruelty can include inadequate water, food and shelter, as well as cases of neglect, abuse and torture of animals, sometimes done out of ignorance and other times done out of malice. An animal cruelty investigator may see any type of animal, large or small, domestic or wild, on properties in the city, farms, zoos and other facilities where animals reside. You may be required to travel large distances between cases each day.

As an animal cruelty investigator, you will be responsible for documenting the cases that you encounter, in writing, with pictures and video and by interviewing witnesses and owners. If you work for law enforcement, you may also arrest suspects in animal cruelty cases.

Schedule and Wages

As an animal cruelty investigator, you will work a typical full-time weekday work week, though you may also be called out if there is an emergency or a discovery outside of your normal working hours. You may also work over time if you are travelling long distances returning from or travelling toward an investigation.

The average wage for workers in this area is twelve to fifteen dollars an hour, depending on where you are employed and the nature of your duties.

Career Options

This career is one option for a person who is currently in law enforcement, or a student who is studying law enforcement, animal behavior, biology or zoology.

As an animal cruelty investigator, you may work as a peace officer, and you will have some duties that overlap with the work of animal control officers, such as trapping and caring for animals. In these positions you can advance into supervisory positions with the municipality or the state where you are employed. You may also find work in the entry ways and ports into the country where animals arrive after transport.

If you work for a non-profit, you will combine investigations with public education and provide presentations to the public, as well as write articles or supply pictures for websites and publications. You may be able to advance internally within the non-profit into supervisory or administrative careers.

There are also opportunities for international work, performing investigations and documenting animal abuse and neglect for international welfare agencies. You will not have the power to arrest, but you will have the power to make public some of the practices in the storage, buying and selling of animals and animal products. You may even decide to create your own non-profit for the support of animals that are exploited by a particular industry.

You can find out more information about this career, and other careers working to promote animal welfare, by visiting the ASPCA Professional and the National Animal Control Association.