How do I Become an Animal Control Officer?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 27 February 2020
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The minimum criteria for a person who wants to become an animal control officer may vary by region and jurisdiction. Some places do not have specific educational requirements, while other places require candidates to have college degrees. Generally, however, a person must be at least 18 years old or older to secure this position and possess at least a high-school diploma or an equivalent credential.

In places in which only a high school diploma is required, a person who wants to become an animal control officer can apply for the job and receive on-the-job training. While not absolutely necessary, it may help to gain some experience as a worker or volunteer in an animal shelter, hospital, or kennel before applying for this job. By doing so, a person can gain valuable firsthand knowledge of animal care and treatment. When up against other job candidates who lack this experience, a person with this background may find it easier to secure a job.

In jurisdictions in which a college degree is required, an individual may seek a bachelor's degree in animal science, law enforcement, or criminal justice. A person may even major in veterinary technology in preparation to become an animal control officer. Even in places that do not require such degrees, earning a bachelor’s, or even associate’s, degree in one of these fields may make a person a more attractive job candidate.


There are certain courses of study that are particularly beneficial for anyone who wants to become an animal control officer, even if the individual doesn’t seek a degree. They include the study of animal control laws and regulations related to animal cruelty. It is also helpful if an aspiring animal control officer has at least a basic knowledge of common diseases that affect animals and how to provide animal first aid. Likewise, learning basic criminal laws and procedures may be beneficial as well.

Besides education and training, a person who wants to become an animal control officer should have a genuine love for animals. Prospective animal control officers also need good communication skills for speaking with other members of the animal control team as well as for creating written reports when necessary. At times, an animal control officer may also have to interact with police or other law enforcement officials who are not used to working with animals. Good communication skills can be important in such cases as well.


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Post 2

I work now as an animal control officer but when I was in high school I worked at a large kennel. It was good preparation for the work I do now because I was able to see dogs in all states of irritation. Being in a kennel can be a stressful experience on the dogs and they sometimes react in ways that you see with dogs on the streets.

I think my early training helps both myself and the dog. I am able to protect myself from injury and they animals feel less pain and torment because I am able to subdue them humanely. I would not say that working in a kennel is a prerequisite to being an animal control officer but it certainly helps.

Post 1

This may sound paradoxical, but the most important characteristic for an animal control technician to have is a deep love and respect for animals. You cannot properly care for or control animals without acknowledged their emotional and physical well being. The dog catcher has to love dogs.

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