Animal control service

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An animal control service or animal control agency is an entity commonly employed by municipalities in the United States, and 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 is generally called an animal control officer, and may be an employee or a contractor.

Duties and function[edit]

ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement Division patch

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 (no relation to national organizations with similar names). Officers may work with police or sheriff departments, parks and recreation departments, and health departments by confining animals or investigating animal bites to humans. Rescued 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 destroyed. A recent bill in California proposes changing "destroyed" to "euthanized". Opponents of this bill want the term to apply only to dying animals who are assisted by medication to die and not to be used for the humane slaughter of animals in shelters. [1]

The most common requirements for this job is some prior experience handling animals on a farm, as a veterinary assistant or animal trainer. Training is primarily on the job but some states (like Virginia, North Carolina and Texas) require formal and continuing education available from community colleges and trade associations.

The availability of training and popularization of the job through television shows has brought increasing opportunities to the field. The New York American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) employs several Humane Law Enforcement Officers with some police powers. This arrangement is becoming more common throughout the United States, accordingly offering greater compensation. Due to FBI profilers finding an association between cruelty to animals and interpersonal violence, some animal cruelty investigators are specially trained police officers and many domestic violence shelters include sheltering for animals through animal control agencies and suggest protective orders for pet animals for victims seeking services.

In politics[edit]

An American colloquialism labels an unpopular politician by saying that he or she "couldn't be elected dogcatcher". "Dogcatcher" is also used as shorthand for low-level political office.[2]

Most animal control officers are actually appointed by an executive authority.[2]


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ a b Beam, Christopher (5 November 2010). "Dog Race: Is dogcatcher actually an elective office?". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 6 November 2010. 

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