Animal control service

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An animal control service or animal control agency is an entity charged with responding to requests for help with animals ranging from wild animals, dangerous animals, or animals in distress. An individual who works for such an entity was once known as a dog catcher, but is generally now called an animal control officer, and may be an employee or a contractor – commonly employed by a municipality, county, shire[1], or other subnational government area.

Duties and function[edit]

Animal control services may be provided by the government or through a contract with a humane society or society for the prevention of cruelty to animals. Officers may work for, or with, police or sheriff departments, parks and recreation departments, and health departments by confining animals or investigating animal bites to humans.

The most common requirements for this job is some prior experience handling animals on a farm, as a veterinary assistant or animal trainer.[2] Training is primarily on the job but some jurisdictions (like Virginia, North Carolina and Texas) require formal and continuing education[3] available from community colleges and trade associations. Some animal cruelty investigators are specially trained police officers,[4] the New York American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) employs several Humane Law Enforcement Officers with some police powers (including the power of arrest); and throughout the United States this arrangement is becoming more common.

Animals may be returned to their owners, or transported to a veterinary clinic or animal shelter. Animals held in the shelter can be returned to their owners, adopted, released to the wild, held as evidence in a criminal investigation or put to sleep.[5]

Active cruelty to animals, such as chaining, may be an indicator of serious psychological[6][7] or violence problems.[8][9][10][10][11] Because of these links, in some places animal control officers have begun to look for and report on other issues.[12]


An American colloquialism labels an unpopular politician by saying that he or she "couldn't be elected dogcatcher", with "dogcatcher" referring to a very low-level elected office. In practice, animal control officers are generally appointed by an executive authority and not elected[13]

In 2017 U.S. President Donald Trump criticized Senator Bob Corker by tweeting: "Bob Corker, who helped President O give us the bad Iran Deal & couldn't get elected dog catcher in Tennessee, is now fighting Tax Cuts.... / ...Corker dropped out of the race in Tennesse when I refused to endorse him, and now is only negative on anything Trump. Look at his record!"[14]

The town of Duxbury, Vermont is said to be the only place in the United States that actually elects a dog catcher.[15]


  1. ^ "RANGER SERVICES / POUND / LOST YOUR CAT OR DOG?" Archived January 2, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.,
  2. ^ "Entry Requirements" Archived 2016-01-23 at the Wayback Machine.,
  3. ^ VA Requirements, Code of Virginia
  4. ^ "Requirements for Becoming an Animal Cruelty Investigator",
  5. ^ Notaro, Stephen J. "Disposition Of Shelter Companion Animals From Nonhuman Animal Control Officers, Citizen Finders, And Relinquished By Caregivers." Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 7.3 (2004): 181-188. Academic Search Premier. Web. 13 Mar. 2013.
  6. ^ "Pet-Abuse.Com – Animal Cruelty". Retrieved 2010-03-17.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Facts About Animal Abuse & Domestic Violence Archived 2012-11-20 at the Wayback Machine. American Humane Association Accessed 12 November 2006
  9. ^ "Domestic Violence & the Animal Abuse Link". Archived from the original on 2008-12-29. Retrieved 2008-11-06.
  10. ^ a b Felthous, Alan R. (1998). Aggression against Cats, Dogs, and People. In Cruelty to Animals and Interpersonal Violence: Readings in Research and Applications. West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press. pp. 159–167.
  11. ^ Goleman, Daniel (1991-08-07). "Clues to a Dark Nurturing Ground for One Serial Killer". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-30.
  12. ^ May Eriksen, Alanah (2008-09-16). "SPCA, CYF police each other's patches". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2008-09-29.
  13. ^ Beam, Christopher (5 November 2010). "Dog Race: Is dogcatcher actually an elective office?". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 6 November 2010.
  14. ^ Sullivan, Eileen (2017-10-24). "Corker 'Couldn't Get Elected Dog Catcher,' Trump Says in Renewed Attack". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-10-24.
  15. ^ Kolb Noyes, Eileen (2018-03-24). "Can't Get Elected Dogcatcher? Try Running In Duxbury, Vt".

External links[edit]