An animal control officer in the U.S.A. may be an employee of or a contractor to a municipality and is charged with responding to calls for service from the general public. Calls may include requests for help with wild animals, dangerous animals or animals in distress. 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 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.
The most common requirements for this job in the U.S. are a gun and a high school diploma and some prior experience handling animals on a farm, as a veterinary assistant or animal trainer. Training is primarily on the job but a few states require formal and continuing education (VA, NC, TX) 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 animal "cops" with quasi 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.
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—Horace Walpole (17171797)
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