What Is an Animal Cop?

As an animal cop, you'd work with law enforcement to keep animals safe by prosecuting abusers, monitoring pet shops and rescuing injured or abandoned animals. You'll also keep people safe from potentially hazardous animals. While there is no specific education route to become an animal cop, you might benefit from studying animal science and criminal justice. Read more about the qualifications for this career. Schools offering Animal Care degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Animal Cop?

Animal cops, more commonly known as animal control workers, are specialized law enforcement agents who help regulate domestic and exotic wildlife in a variety of settings. They may observe animals to investigate suspected mistreatment or abandonment. They are responsible for removing animals from unstable and threatening conditions to protect them from malnutrition or injury.

These professionals must occasionally euthanize animals in the event that they experience undue suffering or create a public threat. An animal control worker will therefore be trained to use nets and tranquilizer guns in order to capture possibly animals in hazardous work environments. They must possess a detailed knowledge of state laws and regulations concerning animal abuse and handling. On an average day, an animal cop may have to manage rabid, dangerous animals, or abusive, illegal animal owners. Learn more important details about this career in the table below:

Degree Required Varies by state, associate or bachelor's degrees sometimes required
Education Field of Study Animal science, law enforcement, veterinary technology, criminology
Key Responsibilities Inspect farms, stores, and other properties that have animals to make sure conditions are safe, hygienic, and humane; protect and rescue animals from cruelty; handle animals that pose a threat to humans
Licensure Requirements Certification available
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6%
Mean Salary (2015)* $35,330

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does an Animal Cop Do?

Animal cops can be employed by law enforcement agencies or nonprofit organizations. As an animal cop, you might take on alternative roles as a humane law enforcement officer (employed by the Humane Society) or an animal control officer. Your primary goal would be to protect and rescue animals from cruel circumstances or control dangerous animals that pose a threat to people. You also might be called upon to pick up stray or unwanted animals.

Depending on your job title, you might inspect pet stores, farms and other animal service businesses to guarantee the safety, hygiene and humane treatment of animals. As an animal control officer, you could handle dangerous situations, such as a wild animal attack, rabid animal encounter or wild animal escape.

According to the Humane Society University, animal cops may wear a uniform and even carry a firearm, much like regular police officers (www.humanesocietyuniversity.org). Working as an animal control worker, you would also cite people who break animal protection laws and prosecute those who commit cruel actions against animals. You also might work to provide humane euthanasia to diseased or fatally wounded animals. Additionally, your job may involve educating the community about responsible animal practices.

How Do I Become an Animal Cop?

Educational requirements for animal control workers vary from state to state. The Humane Society University states that some areas require only a high school diploma, while others may expect a degree in animal science or law enforcement. You also might want to consider college courses in veterinary technology or criminology. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) suggests training as a peace officer, law enforcement officer or park ranger (www.aspca.org). Some community colleges offer short-term training programs, some of which lead to a state credential, in animal control.

The National Animal Control Association (NACA) offers training workshops and certification courses for professionals working with animals (www.nacanet.org). These programs can be hosted by employers to train new professionals or to update skills for workers. The three workshop levels include courses in euthanasia, animal behavior, empathy exhaustion, report writing, baton usage, animal first aid, animal diseases, animal laws, crime scene procedures and animal shelter operations.

What Can I Expect from This Job?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that the average salary for animal control workers was $35,330 in 2015 (www.bls.gov). The five highest-paying states were Nevada, California, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Within the animal care field, you can consider being an animal care and service worker. These professionals provide daily care for animals in a wide array of less intense work settings, such as zoos and aquariums. If law enforcement sounds appealing, you might instead become a police patrol officer, which would require you to maintain public safety by responding to emergencies and arresting possible criminals. If the goal is to help treat injured or suffering animals, you can earn an associate's degree and become a veterinary technologist. These individuals assist veterinarians with tasks such as a blood tests, x-rays, and administering anesthesia to a variety of animals.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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