Animal Care and Control

Understanding Practical and Philosophical Differences Before Taking a Job

Growing numbers of animals are unwanted, lost, or abandoned by owners each year. Stray, uncared for animals pose threats to the public as sources of injury, disease, and property damage. The animals also suffer from hunger, illness, accidents, and deliberate cruelty inflicted by uncaring people. People who want to help resolve and prevent these problems often choose to work in government-run animal control facilities or in private animal care organziations such as shelters, animal sanctuaries, and wildlife rehabilitation clinics.

Animal control departments are typically run by city or county governments and funded by tax dollars. Their primary purpose is to protect citizens from the hazards of unwanted and problem pets, livestock, and wildlife.

Animal shelters, animal sanctuaries, and wildlife rehabilitation clinics are often run by private organizations, such as local or regional humane societies, and funded by charitable donations. Their purpose is to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the animals in their care.

Choosing whether to work in an animal control facility or a private agency will affect several aspects of your work life including

  • Salary and benefits
  • Job stability
  • Working environment

There are also philosophical differences between different animal control facilities and different types of shelters. Philosophical differences can lead to contrasting views of which animals to accept, proper treatment of animals in the shelter, who may adopt homeless animals, and whether or when euthanasia, or painless killing, is practiced. Such differences can greatly affect your happiness in a given working environment.

Read What's in a Word? to learn more about philosophical and semantic debates in the animal care field.

Which Animal Protection Job is Best for You?

With so many dogs, cats, small pets, horses, and exotic animals at both sheltering agencies and control facilities, there are many types of work needed to run the organizations well.

Which job you want will depend on factors such as your interests, training, skills, and motivation. Often, people start out volunteering to work directly with animals, then move into other jobs as they gain experience and education.

The following profiles of various positions will give you a better idea of employment options at animal care and control facilities.

Professional Studies

Read AnimalSheltering magazine - the bimonthly magazine for animal care and control professionals and others who care about community animal protection, sheltering, and control.

Learn more about any animal sheltering topic you can think of: visit AnimalSheltering.org's Resource Library.

Visit Humane Society University's Course Search to find a training opportunity to meet your needs.