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Animal Cop Degree Programs and Colleges

Animal cops ensure the humane treatment of stray animals and work to keep their cities safe from displaced wildlife. Earning an academic certificate or professional certification might be necessary to become an animal cop or control officer in your state. Read on to learn what educational opportunities are available, what you'd learn during your training and what you should consider when choosing a school.

What You Need to Know

Animal cops have options when it comes to seeking education. You may obtain an associate's degree in criminal justice or a similar discipline, enroll in a certificate program at a community college or get your certification through a professional organization. Before applying to a college, you may want to research your state's requirements for certification to make sure you're prepared to earn any necessary credentials.

Programs Certificates, associate's degrees
Duties Capture animals, provide testimony for the court, write reports, understand animal behavior, comply with legal procedures
Colleges Look for programs with first aid certification and schools that meet certification requirements for your state

How Do I Prepare for a Career as an Animal Cop?

To become an animal cop, or animal control officer, you can enroll in certificate programs in animal control offered by many postsecondary institutions, such as community colleges. These programs are often endorsed by state agriculture, police and health services departments, as well as state and national humane societies. Many of the animal control officer programs are offered as continuing education programs, and some states require completion of formal training and regular education to work as an animal control officer.

What About Certification?

Enrolling in a certification program offered by a professional organization, such as the National Animal Control Association (NACA), is another avenue to help you prepare for this career. The NACA offers three certification levels that focus on such topics as animal behavior, report writing, euthanasia, bloodsports and civil liability. The NACA also offers certification training specific to residents of Pennsylvania. This training is required for individuals seeking humane officer certification in that particular state.

What Degrees Are Available to Me?

There are associate's degree programs that can help you prepare for a career as an animal control officer, though the training offered is usually more generalized. Relevant options that could contain animal control studies include administration of justice and criminal justice programs. While you may be able to earn one or both of these degrees through distance learning, programs that focus primarily on animal control are typically not available online.

Are There Any Prerequisites?

The majority of programs require you to be at least 18 years old. You might also need a high school diploma or GED. While some programs don't expect you to have prior experience, others might require you to be currently employed at a local police department, humane society or animal shelter.

What Should I Look For in a College?

If your state requires you to seek certification or register before you can work as an animal control officer, you'll want to make sure that the program you enroll in meets the educational requirements. Some programs might prepare you for certification in specific states, so if you're applying to out-of-state schools, keep in mind you might need additional training for your home state when you seek employment. As an animal control officer, you'll occasionally have to deal with emergency situations. For this reason, look for programs that also prepare you for animal first aid certification. You may be able to find courses, certification or a degree program that's right for you at one of the following colleges:

  • Mesa Community College (AZ)
  • Mount Wachusett Community College (Gardner, MA)
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Daytona State College (Daytona Beach, FL)
  • University of Missouri (Columbia)
  • University of Florida (Gainesville)
  • Kirkwood Community College (Cedar Rapids, IA)

What Could I Learn?

Course topics in both certificate and certification programs are generally the same. You'll learn how to capture domestic and wild animals. You'll also learn about occupational safety measures, animal behavior and investigative techniques. The following topics may be considered as well:

  • Report writing
  • Animal identification
  • Credible testimony in court
  • Euthanasia
  • Legal procedures

Associate's degree programs give you a broad education of the American justice system. Most do not provide specific courses or training in animal control, though the program might satisfy state requirements for the profession. These topics may be explored:

  • Investigations
  • Correctional approaches
  • Criminal justice
  • Administrative justice