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View Poll Results: Is the position of Animal Control Officer a "Profession"?
Yes 49 92.45%
No 4 7.55%
Dont Care 0 0%
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  #1  
Old 03-18-2009
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Default Do you consider Animal Control a "Profession"?

So, Im back in school, training for a new career, and the field I am entering has worked long and hard to be considered a "Profession". So much so, that I am taking a college course on Professionalism.

NACA is calling for articles right now that deal with the Image of Animal Control work, and Im curious about how ACO's feel about this. I was going to write an article, but I feel like I know some of you more, and value your opinion, and thought I would ask you folks how you feel about this job. Do you consider yourself a "professional"? Do you consider this career one that even merits consideration as a true profession, and not just an occupation?

It turns out that what defines a profession is of course somewhat debatable, but back in the 1900s, the Carnegie Foundation set about separating professionals from trades or occupations. A gentleman back then, Mr Flexner, defined professions as:

1. A profession is basically intellectual (as opposed to physical) and is accompanied by a high level of individual responsibility

2. Is based on a body of knowledge that can be learned and is refreshed and refined through RESEARCH. (Today we would label this as EVIDENCE BASED RESEARCH)

3. Is practical as well as theoretical

4. Can be taught through a process of highly specialized professional education (Today a profession is typically thought of as requiring an education from college or university level).

5. Has a strong internal organization of members and a well-developed group consciousness.

6. Has practitioners who are motivated by altruism and who are responsive to public interests.


Through the years, a few more "criteria" have been added to the definition of what defines and separates a profession from an occupation. A few of those are:

7. The members of the profession agree to a code of ethics that binds its practitioners.

8. Members prefer not to change professions.

9. Authority granted by society in the form of licensure or certification.


Wow, this class has been a real wake-up call for me. Maybe part of the reason that the greater public do not see us, or treat us as "professionals" is because we arent holding ourself to the standards of professionalism that other law enforcement and "Professions" do. Do we work together nationally to maintain a "code of ethics" for our overall "members"? I know I never agreed to one when I took my job, and yet, I think most police officers, lawyers, doctors all do that. Why dont we???

Do we actively work together, nationally, to require certification of our membership? Do we seek to retain ACO's and foster a community of support for them? How much outreach do we do, on state and national levels to not only train, but also to mentor, or support those of us that are "one-horse" towns? Do we actively try and retain skills/ideals/talent and the wisdom of those that did the job, or have done the job? I dont think so... I think our turn-over rate is too high, and people leave taking valuable experience and wisdom with them, is often lost forever, which ends up being a real tragedy for our community.

Here is my question. What would you change, if you could? What would help you the most? And do you consider yourself a "Professional"? Are your skills going to be lost when you leave the field at some point?

Discuss amonst yourself. Or not. If not, I guess that is an answer too!

Thanks for at least listening to me, and considering the subject. I have some ideas.... as usual.
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Old 03-19-2009
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1. intellectual, high level of individual responsibility

Well, as much as nurses and police are, we're that thing, and they're considered professions.

2. knowledge learned, refreshed, from evidence-based research

Just in our infancy on this, but yes.

3. Is practical as well as theoretical

Ain't nothing more practical than poop, or more theoretical than trying to figure out a licensed vs. population statistical survey.


4. taught through highly specialized professional education

and

5. Has a strong internal organization of members and a well-developed group consciousness.

Not yet, but it's getting there.

6. Has practitioners who are motivated by altruism and who are responsive to public interests.

As witness this board.

7. The members of the profession agree to a code of ethics that binds its practitioners.

8. Members prefer not to change professions.

9. Authority granted by society in the form of licensure or certification.

Not yet, but it's getting there.

Quote:
We aren't holding ourself to the standards of professionalism that other law enforcement and "Professions" do.
Double-edged sword, eh? We could ... but then we'd have to. And if our agencies did, then they'd have to pay better, or suffer with some of the consequences that, for example, police and nursing employers do (e.g. staff shortages, unions, etc.)

Quote:
(1)I think our turn-over rate is too high, and people leave taking valuable experience and wisdom with them, is often lost forever, which ends up being a real tragedy for our community. (2) What would you change, if you could? (3) What would help you the most? (4) And do you consider yourself a "Professional"? (5) Are your skills going to be lost when you leave the field at some point?
(1) Yup.

(2) Require certifying exams and POST-style training of all ACOs, and invent a version of the police/medical oath for us. Something about protecting and preserving ALL life would be nice.

(3) Money, which could be used to get better training, better support services, and better people to stick around.

(4) Yes. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, from here to the day I die, I am here to protect and serve creation and my brethren (whatever their species), and to support my companions in their efforts, to the best of my ability. Always have been, always will be, God guiding and guarding me.

(5) It's starting to look like I have left the field, whether I like it or not; but I'm hoping to translate my experience into some form of help and support for those who are still there. IMHO, we will never truly become a profession until we can develop a means for people to survive the job for longer than five years with their ideals, personalities, interpersonal code of conduct, and ethics intact. Way tall order, of course. May be a pipe dream. Have to keep working on it, though, cause you never know; maybe the planet will survive.
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Old 03-19-2009
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See,

Unfortunately Winnie, I have to disagree with you.

Nurses AND Policeman take an oath that is created specifically for their profession. SOME ACO's swear an oath, but it is usually not related to animal control work, it is more as a sworn peace officer.

Evidence Based Research means people in our field would actually be doing studies based on FACTS, not just the observations or studies of others outside our practice to uphold the way we conduct ourselves and the techniques we use in the field. At what point do we separate ourselves from the AVMA and the police and study ourselves, and come up with our own "Best Practices" based on facts???

And I guess maybe Im not aware of a Code Of Ethics that we as a national membership profess to uphold.

Those are pretty much "biggies" that separate us from others. It is easy to say "I want to be considered a professional" and "I am a professional" if you just say the words, but where do you draw the line? Take pride in your profession to the point that you are going to protect the public AND the profession from those that profess to be "professional" ACO's, but are still shooting feral cats, using inhumane euthanasia techniques and inappropriate people skills?
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Old 03-19-2009
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Well, nurses and policemen didn't come out of Eden with an oath; it was made up by nurses and policemen who were working, trying to do the job, needed one, didn't have one ... and made one up. Hence, as I say, we ought to develop that. I didn't mean to imply that it (or a code of ethics, or all the rest of it) was already there; we both know that's not the case.

I think our "disagreement" is more a question of chronological scope. I say that nursing is a profession now, and always has been. Even though Florence Nightingale introduced oaths, codes of conduct, and statistical analysis to the profession in the 19th century, I would still consider the dedicated nurse of, say, the 14th century to be a "professional," although she didn't have the same "codified" process (and very likely didn't have much support in her work).

To profess a calling is a matter of the heart, not of the era. In a hundred years (if the planet makes it that long), when ACOs have all these things written down and sorted out, I won't have lived through their process, but I will still have behaved as a professional, as best I could. It's all we can do, until WE as a group have the time to do more. (Florence was independently wealthy; that helped. )
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Old 03-19-2009
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Win,

I know we both agree on this in SO MANY ways,

But Im not as opptomistic (and I cant spell) as you. I dont see the same desire to strive for more for the profession from individuals. Everybody is so swamped with their own little part, that they cant see how much better it would be if we all did a little bit for a little while, until the rest of the world "got it". For crimeny's sake, wikipedia lists "Urban Planners" as a recognized profession...
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Old 03-19-2009
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Wow, I think this is a first ... I'm being called optimistic.

Yup, I see your point. As I've said before, it's really hard to pull this stuff together when we're all trying to save lives as fast as we can, and losing a bunch because we're not three times faster than we can be.



Faith. Ya gotta have faith. (Boo doopy doopy doo, as George Michael would say.)
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Old 03-19-2009
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I'm probably not as intellectual as you two, but I think one of the things that holds us back is the lack of a "place to put us".

In that scope, how many of us work for the Police, Health Departments, Counties, Code Enforcement, or have our own departments?

When a government decides to provide animal control to it's public it then decides where to stick us. If a city needs a police officer, it creates a police department, even if it only has one officer, same with fire, it doesn't stick that police officer under the health inspector, or community planner, or road maintenance, but when they need an animal control officer, they may stick us anywhere, I know I've heard of some acos who work partime as water employees and part time as acos.

I think that is a huge obstacle to overcome in becoming a profession. When we go to classes with other acos they all work for a variety of different departments and unless they are in a huge city rarely is it the Animal Control DEPARTMENT, it's usually just a division under some other heading.
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Old 03-19-2009
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You know,

I think you are ABSOLUTELY right. If we all worked harder to identify our profession and separate ourselves, we could fight to be our own department.

Why cant we define ourselves as our own department? I know a lot of you are looking at this as an insurmountable crazy discussion, but I think it is time that we work together to establish ourselves. NO ONE else is going to do it for us as well as we can. And if you wait for others, you will be stuck as a part of the water/sewer depart! At least if we could as a national organization have a position paper on this, with research into where we are most able to work effectively we would be able to take a stance and then work and bargain with our employers for the most optimal conditions in which we can serve the public.

Last edited by ksbirdhse; 03-19-2009 at 01:23 PM.
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Old 03-19-2009
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Valid point. Until SO many things can be standardized I don't think Animal Control can qualify as a legitimate profession. There are just too many variances, not just in "fit", but with training, practices and procedures and even accountabilities.

While clearly there are a lot of highly trained, well educated ACOs out there who work within well defined guidelines and are held to a high degree of accountability, there are also those who are simply given the keys to the truck and left to figure things out on their own. No formal training, no clear duties or responsibilities (or accountabilities), not even a need to document the goings on. Professional? Not. Scary? Oh yeah!
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Old 03-19-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hasbeenaco View Post
Valid point. Until SO many things can be standardized I don't think Animal Control can qualify as a legitimate profession. There are just too many variances, not just in "fit", but with training, practices and procedures and even accountabilities.

While clearly there are a lot of highly trained, well educated ACOs out there who work within well defined guidelines and are held to a high degree of accountability, there are also those who are simply given the keys to the truck and left to figure things out on their own. No formal training, no clear duties or responsibilities (or accountabilities), not even a need to document the goings on. Professional? Not. Scary? Oh yeah!
Again, I agree.

Without being more organized and PROACTIVE about our profession, our job personally, and recognizing and fighting for, through nationwide certification or licensure the little guys out there that are getting tossed a set of keys and a pick-up, you are not going to protect both the public AND those individuals who are going to try and take the job. I can think of one officer, right from this board that was permanenty injured because he was sent into the field without an adequate level of training that might have kept him safe.

We can just let this continue, as it is. We can just keep on doing our job and not worry about others, but just voting "yes" here on my poll wont help advance the professional role of animal control officers, except in our own minds.
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