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  #1  
Old 07-18-2005
BigB BigB is offline
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Default I'm interested in becoming an ACO, where do I start?

Hello,

I'm interested in becoming an ACO, and I'm looking for information on how to go about it.

I've loved animals my whole life, and I was blown away to find that a job exists where I could help animals for a living. I've also had a longtime interest in Law Enforcement, so it almost seems like the perfect match.

Anyway, I've had a hard time finding information about Animal Control work, I've scoured the internet, and so far all I've found is a few job listings. (till now )

So, I was wondering if maybe you could offer some advice on where to start? How to get my foot in the door?

Things like:

What types of Agencies are best to work for? I've seen county run organizations that have Animal Control Officers on their staff, and also some non-profit Humane Societies that have Animal Control Officers on their staff, and I'm confused about what the difference is.

What sort of training or schooling should I look into before applying?

I've found some job listings with requirements like a Veterinary Nursing certificate, others that merely require a high school diploma.

What previous experience or skills do agencies look for when hiring a new Officer?

All Iíve got under my belt is some time spent volunteering at the Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue Center while I was in High School. I was exposed to many sick, dead, and dieing animals, so I think I can handle the ďsadĒ and ďgrossĒ factorís involved in this type of work.

Iím currently working as a Private Security Officer, I donít know if that will help me any, but it has given me some experience writing reports, using a radio, etc.

Do you enjoy the work? Iím imagine it to be equal parts heartbreak, and reward. Seeing a sick or dead animal one day, saving a life or putting the ďbad guyĒ in jail the next. (ok, maybe not equal parts, mostly heartbreak and stress? )

Iím 27, and Iím located in Sonoma County-Northern California.

Any advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for your time,
BigB
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  #2  
Old 07-18-2005
petguardian96 petguardian96 is offline
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Hi, I am thinking you have your PC832 since you are doing security work am I correct? If not, you have to have that to write citations.
Also take a NACA course..volunteer at the shelters to get alittle more
animal experience. Your own animals don't count, LOL
This is the bare minimum I would think. The job details varies
from agency to agency, but impounding animals, trapping, licencing
citation writing, putting animals to sleep, picking up dead animals, solving problems like barking dogs, dealing with unreasonable people in a positive manner..(very hard to do) cleaning kennels at times, being able to recognize illness in an animal, (not diagnois) that is for a vet.
after hours on call duty..compassion fatigue you can look forward to in the future, meals on the run, lots of paperwork. What else, so much hardly can remember all...LOL
Brenda
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Old 07-18-2005
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Hi BigB,

I think the best thing that you can do is volunteer at your local spca. Lear how to read the signs agressive animal, the signs of an ill animal, how to properly restrain an animal. Volunteer ALOT..get your name known in the shelter.

The difference between a spca animal control and a municipal animal control is the pay. Municipal has their own shelter, where they also adopt out animals, vet care, etc (Don't know about anything else?) I'm sure somone on here can help you out for that question.

Yes..the A/C field is VERY emtionally draining and also VERY rewarding. You have to work weekends, hoildays, on call, sometimes..up at every hour on the hour...working 365 days a year, 24/7. You have to deal with aggorant, rude people, PTS healthy animals, deal with very sick and injured animals, deal with people who do not have the best intentions for their animals..but you also get to help animals recover to better health, relieve a suffering animal from life and know that they are going to a better place. A stray that you picked up..that was cold, scared, hungry and then see them adopted to a loving forever home. I could go on and on. The AC profession is a job that has to be in you. Just my opinion.

I know alot of agencies only require a high school diploma..but having extra is helpful. I went to college for vet tech and I took a first aid for pets course and am currently taking legal courses for animal control/animal cruelty investigators.

As for trying to find a A/C job..i'm in the same boat as you. I'm currently not working in the A/C field. I was working as an ACO but quit my job..because of certain circumstances...but I won't go into that. I'm currently looking for another ACO job myself. The turn over rate in the A/C field is very low. Someone either has to quit, retire or pass away...it is a waiting game.

I can honestly say that I'm in love with the A/C field and know that this is the profession for me I just have to wait it out....and hey i'll let you use my motto....persistance...persistance...persistance.. .pays off in the end

Apply everywhere...and hang in there...our day will come....just like the old saying....when you least expect it

Take it easy!

Sunny
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Old 07-18-2005
BigB BigB is offline
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Thanks for the replies so far.

I don't have my PC832, it's not required here for Security work.

I could get it though, I think the local college offer's it as a 40 hour course.

Animal first aid sounds like a good idea, I can look into finding a local class.

I have been thinking about doing some Volunteering at a Shelter, we have a bunch around here, so I'm still trying to figure out which one.

I may just start driving down to the Marin County Humane Society and Volunteering, their website lists that they are "always accepting applications" for ACO's. They also help run the California State Humane Association's Animal Law Enforcement Training Academy. I'd be first in line to sign up for that but it doesn't apear to be offered again this year in Marin.

The California State Humane Association is having their level basic level academy in San Diego August 22.

I've also found the NACA Level 1 is being offered in Sacramento October 17.
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Old 07-18-2005
aco416iris aco416iris is offline
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Hey BigB,
Canadian ACO here, although this job is the same alll across the board(er)...anyways, I have been an ACO for about 7 years and one piece of advice that I can offer to anyone thinking they might be interested in becoming a full time ACO is to check your mental health by a licensed, practicing physician that specializes in stupidity LOL I'm just kidding (I think )...In actuality, it seems that you are pretty certain that this is where you want to be and have done some research (wanting to help animals + law enforcement, in your own words: it does seem like a perfect match). Definatly look into volunteering at the different shelters, also find out if they offer "ride-alongs" where you can actually tag-along with an ACO for part or all of a shift one day. There's no better way to see first hand if you really want to deal with the amount of BS that faces ACOs everyday (especially in the summer).
To answer some of your questions, in my personal opinion, working for municipal government animal control agencies beats working for private humane societies because of the pay scale as well as it seems to me that municipally funded shelters are more recognized and are able to do alot more, not to mention the fact that most city employees are unionized and recieve benefits, security etc. I personally think that your current position as a security officer will look good on your resume when applying for an animal control position, and also think that general animal care courses and volunteer experience will definatly add to that.
As has been mentioned before, most ACOs are required to do weekends, holidays, mornings, evenings and even afterhours on-call. You must be ready to jump out of bed at 2am for that aggressive dog that wont let the drunken rednecks out of their car cuz when they got home from the bar, it came out of no where and is now locking them in their car; or to be able to jump out of bed at 4am for the dog that was hit by a train and is now laying dieing on the side of the road, yelping and growling at people who approach.
What I would also do is when you visit your local shelters inquiring about volunteering, also pick up a copy of the by-laws which are available to the public and familiarize yourself with those. Study different dog breeds, behaviours etc.
Enough of my rambling, I hope I've helped in some way, forgive the sarcasim and behind all the negativities, this job is one in a million and is rewarding in many ways. Good luck to you and always feel free to ask/post anything, there are an enormous amount of years of experience on this board and everyone is always willing to help.
--Iris
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  #6  
Old 07-18-2005
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I think they said it all, good job all!
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  #7  
Old 07-19-2005
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Hey BigB, If you decide to come to Florida, it's a little more strict. We have FACA to deal with here and for instance they do not recognize any law enforecement cert for equipment. Its odd but it's true. www.facafla.org .... anyway, everyone is right up to the part where no one mentioned the EU. Be prepared. Its not all animal planet in this job. No fluff here, all hard work and sweat, satisfaction and heartache. I find that every $ is worth it though. I have been in the animal shelter career for 11 years. This job is not for the faint of heart.
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  #8  
Old 07-30-2005
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BigB - this link may also be useful:
http://www.aspca.org/site/PageServer...lty_HLEofficer
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  #9  
Old 07-30-2005
BigB BigB is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. Gianotto
BigB - this link may also be useful:
http://www.aspca.org/site/PageServer...lty_HLEofficer
Thank you!

very helpful!
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  #10  
Old 07-30-2005
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mzk10 mzk10 is offline
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I took an Animal First Aid course through the American Red Cross. Got an official looking card and everything! I also volunteered at the local Humane Society, getting extra certifications (i.e. Level I Dog Handler) which looked good on my ACO application. And don't overlook non-animal related things you've done. My customer service experience and military training were a deciding factor in my getting hired.

A previous poster said that ACO turnover was low. Not so here in Northern Florida. The pay is low, the stress is high, the shelter is old, and the weather is often uncooperative. The average ACO lasts about 3 years before burning out or moving on. But the job has it's rewards as well. I go to sleep at night feeling I've made a positive difference in my community.

Got to cut this short. It's 7 AM on a Saturday morning and my shift starts in an hour. Best of luck to you! -- K
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