Do you wish to become an Animal Control Officer? Then the guide in this article will make your journey to becoming an ACO very easy
Animal control officers maintain public safety by enforcing animal licensing laws and humane care regulations while on patrol. Working as an animal control officer can be challenging and rewarding, and requires handling all types of animals, from pets to wildlife.
Animal control officers are generally employees of a county, city, or federal government. They can also advance from entry-level officer positions to supervisory and management roles. Senior animal control titles may include senior animal control officer, coordinator, superintendent, or director of operations.
Animal control officers are responsible for responding to requests from the public to subdue wild creatures and assist animals that would otherwise be in danger. The position used to be regarded as a low-level job that was thought to require little or no skill. However, that opinion could not be further from the truth. These animal police officers require a lot of training and experience to effectively disseminate potentially dangerous situations that involve animal and human interactions. Their abilities are further charged with the proliferation of exotic pets found within the city limits. The following is an overview of the typical skills, training, and experiences faced by those in the animal control profession.
How To Become An Animal Control Officer: Required Skills of an Animal Control Officer
Animal control professionals must understand animal behavior to quickly assess situations involving animals and act to protect the public, themselves, and associated animals. This ability to apply knowledge of all kinds of animals to practically all is a skill that is learned and perfected primarily on the job. Also, those who work in animal control must know how to use all the equipment at their disposal to carry out their work in the most humane way possible.
Animal control officers must possess excellent communication skills in addition to their experience in animal psychology.
These canine hunters must communicate effectively with the public in the process of doing their job. Even after animals have been properly subdued and captured, officials within the criminal justice system often ask animal control officers to testify in court cases involving the animals’ antics against their human neighbors. In those cases, animal control officers must know how to follow procedures, document their cases, and effectively communicate their findings to police officers and court officials.
Animal control officers must also possess certain medical knowledge that applies when animals attack humans.
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This knowledge includes the examination of animal bites in humans, as well as the investigation of injuries in animals. The skills these professionals possess become very important to humans who are bitten by wild animals infected with rabies.
Pathways To Become An Animal Control Officer
Mayors, city council members, or other city leaders appoint senior animal control officers in various cities and counties. Depending on the size and population density of the city in which they work, these senior animal control officers do the fieldwork; otherwise, they direct the operations of lower-level animal control workers. Animal control professionals are employed directly with city or county governments or as contractors with the local government they serve. Job vacancies for these positions often appear on the city’s online career forums.
Most of the time, these political appointments as animal control officers are the result of the animal control officer’s reputation earned through active involvement with organizations such as the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals or the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Some animal control professionals gain practical experience working with animals through internships at local farms. The privately operated National Animal Control Association advocates that new animal control officers complete formal training on humane trapping and restraining of animals, and experienced officers should continue training on the job.
The daily life of an animal control officer
Animal control officers see a lot of tragedy in their line of work, and it is probably not easy for them to constantly pick up animals that are destined to die from city kennels, mainly because the animals belong to irresponsible owners. However, the position can be quite rewarding, especially when officers help wildlife avoid deadly confrontations with humans.
The work can also provide a series of smiles. As animal control officers receive calls from wealthy owners in the California hills about young black bears frequenting hot tubs on their backyard terraces, they probably can’t help but smile. Additionally, the humorous account of a military police (MP) officer’s encounter with a giant snapping turtle reminds everyone that animal control should be left to those with professional training. As the story goes, there were no animal control officers available in this remote, military-operated area.
A large snapping turtle found its way into the middle of a busy street and did not move. The traffic at the base became heavy because people did not want to hit the turtle. After a while, one of the MPs on duty decided that he was tired of waiting for the turtle to move and began poking the creature with his cane at night. He managed to get the tortoise across the street and into a grassy area. Just as the turtle was about to reach the grassy area, he quickly broke the MP’s nightstick and ran away with it in his mouth.
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Expected Job Outlook for Animal Control Officers
As urban environments continue to encroach on lands that native wildlife traditionally call home, animal control officers will continue to play active roles in the community. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these animal care services workers have bright job prospects through 2020, as job growth in their profession is projected 23% higher than average growth rates for other jobs.
Skills and Competencies of the Animal Control Officer
To be successful in this position, you will generally need the following skills and qualities:
Animal control officers often encounter difficult situations involving animals in states of neglect, abuse, or injury. They must know how to work with the emotions that arise to help these animals effectively.
Interpersonal Skills: This job requires interaction with the public and requires the ability to skillfully navigate difficult situations.
Physical Agility and Stamina
Animal control officers can work standing up for long periods and must be able to bend, stretch, and climb under or over obstacles to reach animals in need of assistance. They must also be prepared to safely handle frightened or aggressive animals.