Animal cops or animal control officers are in-charge of ensuring the welfare of animals and enforcing city and state welfare regulations regarding the treatment of animals. They perform multiple duties such as helping stray animals, investigating any reports of abuse by animal owners or others and removing uninvited animals from people’s homes.
To enter into this field, you need to meet certain base requirements, after which you will have to follow a series of steps on your path to becoming an animal cop.
Requirements to Becoming an Animal Cop
You will be required to possess some basic qualities before you can be eligible to become an animal cop. For instance, animal control professionals should understand animal behavior quickly and should be able to quickly assess tricky situations, which may involve members of the public or animals in distress. They must possess the ability to deal with a multitude of animals and should understand their triggers. In addition to that, animal control officers must be aware of the usage of the equipment they carry to make sure that their job is done in the most humane way possible.
Animal control officers also need to have excellent communication skills in addition to their animal psychology skills. Not only will they need these in situations where they are dealing with the public and animals, but these skills will also come in handy when the criminal justice system calls upon them to testify in court cases that involve animal rights.
Animal cops must also possess some basic medical knowledge which they might need to apply in case of animals attacking humans, or the other way round.
Steps to Becoming an Animal Cop
To become an animal cop, you will need to follow the following steps:
- Step 1: Get an Education
Even though the job does not require higher education, having an associate or a bachelor’s degree can be useful in the longer run. You should ideally earn an education in a field relevant to animal control, such as animal management, animal science, animal psychology and genetics, etc. Coursework would include a strong foundation in criminal justice, since animal control officers will be working within a sub-division of the legal system. Those who opt for a formal degree as a path to becoming an animal cop, usually choose criminal justice as a major.
Other courses could include the following:
|Animal Law||The study of statutes defining animal abuse and fines or punishments for those who break these laws.|
|Animal Science||The study of basic animal behavior, including any diseases they are known to carry, their natural habitats, life cycles and breeding.|
|Animal Handling||Developing an understanding of how to capture animals, provide them with emergency medical care and euthanizing them when need be. This course might involve a formal training session with a licensed veterinarian.|
- Step 2: Get Certified
Before you can begin practicing as an animal cop, you will need a proper certification according to your state and federal laws. Even though some states have developed their own programs to train animal cops, the National Animal Control Association (NACA) is the main source of getting certified. NACA offers two different courses for training, both of which are required to be completed to get the certificate. Both courses are a week long, each, and include topics such as animal welfare laws, investigation techniques, animal cruelty, animal injuries and diseases, ethics, capturing animals and dealing with wild or exotic animals.
If you opt for an advance certification, which is not a basic requirement to become an animal cop, you might get additional knowledge on technical concerns such as euthanasia administration to animals, self-protection, emergency animal shelters and advanced legal structures pertaining to animal rights.
- Step 3: Gain Experience
To get into the job market, you might have to gain some prior practical experience. You can find work in places such as animal shelters, animal rescue companies, pet stores, zoos, horse stables, farms and aquariums. Basic skills you may pick up through such experiences include animal care, training and feeding, among other things.
How long does it take to become an Animal Cop?
This will depend on your education. As a minimum, you will be required to possess a high school diploma or a GED. Following this, you will need a certification to become a licensed animal cop. This certification may take a few weeks, depending on the certifying agency.
If you choose to go for an associate or bachelor’s degree in an animal protection related subject, then it will take you longer to become an animal cop. It takes approximately 2-years to complete an associate’s degree and 4 years to complete a bachelor’s degree.
How much does an Animal Cop Make?
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Animal Control Workers earn a mean annual wage of $37,580 as of May 2017. The following industries are considered to be the top paying ones for this occupation:
|Industry||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
|State Government, excluding schools and hospitals||100||$44,210|
|Local Government, excluding schools and hospitals||11,230||$37,750|
|Social Advocacy Organizations||1,100||$36,160|
|Other Personal Services||190||$32,470|
Career Outlook for Animal Cops
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job growth for Animal Care and Service Workers is 22%, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. Between 2016 and 2026, more than 60,000 new jobs are expected to be created.
This positive career outlook for animal care and service workers can be associated to the fact that people consider pets as part of the family. Therefore, they are willing to pay more for pet care and pet services. In addition to that, the general sentiments of the American public towards animals such as cats, dogs and even sharks and wolves have become more positive now that they were a few decades ago, according to a study by The Washington Post. Thanks to this growing concern for the welfare of animals, both wild and domestic, the animal cop job market is expected to grow and flourish even more in the near future.