Animal Patrol Officer: Job Description, Duties and Requirements
Animal patrol officers investigate cases of animal mistreatment or animal attack and relocate homeless, mistreated or lost pets to shelters. This is a hands-on job that requires officers to catch and care for injured or unwanted animals. Read more about a career as an animal patrol officer here.
Animal patrol officers ensure the safety of animals and people by conducting investigations into cases of animal mistreatment and by capturing and relocating dangerous or abandoned animals to approved facilities. Also commonly known as animal control officers, these officers serve as community educators, informing the public about laws regarding animals.
Animal patrol officers are often required to catch and relocate animals that have been abused or abandoned. Officers sometimes use tools like nets, nooses or tranquilizers to capture animals. Generally, animal patrol officers handle domestic animals, such as dogs or cats, but depending on the location and scope of the position, wildlife like raccoons or skunks could fall within an officer's duties. The job also requires officers to work directly with animal owners and other members of the public.
Officers also investigate cases of animal attacks and animal cruelty by asking questions and making observations. Often, these investigations lead to prosecution in court, where animal patrol officers may have to testify to their findings. Officers work with the public to find homes for abused, abandoned or unwanted animals.
Officers give animals food and water and may also be responsible for cleaning up after them in animal control facilities or vehicles. Another aspect of the job is overseeing or conducting the euthanizing of certain animals.
Most animal patrol officer positions require a high school diploma or GED and a valid driver's license for entry-level jobs. The National Animal Control Association (NACA) offers two levels of training to federal, state and local employees responsible for animal control and to those who are interested in a career in the field. Students in the training academy earn NACA certification after satisfactory completion of two 40-hour courses. The NACA offers courses all over the country, covering topics such as animal first aid, animal behavior and capture methods; a list can be found on the NACA site (www.nacanet.org).
Applicants can expect mandatory drug testing and a series of background checks to qualify for an animal patrol officer position. Some officers are required to complete law enforcement training, depending upon the location where they seek employment.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, animal control workers made an average of $33,870 annually as of May 2013. State governments paid the highest salaries in this field at $39,370 on average per year (www.bls.gov).
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