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Old 01-29-2006
KristenB KristenB is offline
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Default ACO Interview

Hello,
My name is Kristen Brown and I'm doing an I Search paper for my english class on Animal Control Officers. It is a field I've considered going into. If you have the time can you please answer a few questions for me? You do not have to answer any that you don't want to, but please try to answer as many as you can.
I am aware that almost all of this varies from state to state and organization to organization. Answer from your own state/organization/experience please.

1. What do you think about education? I've read that some ACOs think that you may be overqualified if you have a college education and others that say to get as much education as you can. What is your opinion?

2. What are the pros and cons of the job?

3. On a day to day basis, how mean do people that you deal with get? What is the "danger" rating of this job?

4. Do you think women get treated differently than men in this field? Not by co workers or superiors, but by the general public?

5. How much time do you spend investigating cruelty cases as opposed to responding to calls about a neighbor's dog barking too much?

6. What is your best memory on the job?

7. What is the average hourly pay? Yearly income?

8. What types of opportunities for advancement are there?
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Old 01-29-2006
aco416iris aco416iris is offline
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Hi Kristen,
I can help you with a couple of them. As far as education goes, my personal opinion is that while it is good to be as educated as possible, the majority of the education ACO's get comes by experience. No schooling can prepare you for the first time you see an animal hit by a car and laying still alive on the side of a road, no schooling can prepare you for the vicious dog that is taught to fight, but is now running down a public road, and likewise, no schooling can prepare you for the first time you are verbally attacked by an irate citizen. I definatly think that some education in animal care can be beneficial in terms of restraint techniques, identifying breeds, how to properly handle and care for different species etc. as well as education in some type of law enforcement program would also be beneficial for writing up and serving tickets, dealing with the public and personal safety. I strongly believe though, that hands on experience is what will get someone a diploma in animal control.
Another one of your questions (and a very good one at that) is regarding women being treated differently by the public than men. I think the biggest problem that "old-fashioned" men have is listening and being told what to do by women. There are a few people I've dealt with before that, when I go to talk to them about an issue such as having their dog off leash, or allowing their dog to roam regularly they go absolutly off the wall, become aggressive, irate and rude and then when you send a male officer to follow up (by coincidence), the citizens are very calm, approachable and do not give the men any lip whatsoever. There have been times where I (or other female officers) have attended calls for aggressive dogs and the citizen will say "Are you sure *You're* going to be able to handle this?" implying that a male should handle the case. Alot of times too, people don't feel that women should be doing after-hours on-call as well in certain areas. All in all, I do feel that sometimes women are viewed a bit differently than men, but (at least where I am anyway), women outnumber men very much in this profession so it's very easy to prove these people wrong.
Geez, I only answered 2 of your questions but it feels like I've answered all of them with the amount of rambling I've done. Hope this helps a bit. Feel free to ask away

-- Iris
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Old 01-29-2006
KristenB KristenB is offline
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Very helpful information! Thank you.
I asked about education because I am not 100% (probably not even 50%) set on a career so I'm definitely going to college. I'm not even sure of my major right now. So I was thinking I *might* try to become an ACO, but then if for some reason I don't like it/can't handle it/etc I'll have more options.
I agree though, on the job training and common sense will probably help more than a degree ever could.
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Old 01-29-2006
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1. What do you think about education? I've read that some ACOs think that you may be overqualified if you have a college education and others that say to get as much education as you can. What is your opinion?
[b]I feel that the more education you have the better. I have a college education, although not in anything animal related. I started as an ACO 5 months ago after 15 years in the electronics industry.[/b]
2. What are the pros and cons of the job? The pros are that you get to deal with animals all day everyday. You get to see and meet bredds of dogs and cats and wildlife that you would never get near at other times. The cons are that you have to deal with people that treat thier animals badly and see no problem with that. They mistreat people and animals but the animals seem to get the worst of it. Also you get to meet people that should have been neutered and spayed same as their animals.

3. On a day to day basis, how mean do people that you deal with get? What is the "danger" rating of this job? I don't know about other people in the other area but most of the people here are pretty good. When they see the badge on the chest they seem to gain a bit of respect for you. We get the odd person but other thatn that on a day to day basis most people are pretty good. I find that the danger rating of the job is about the same as that of a postal worker.

4. Do you think women get treated differently than men in this field? Not by co workers or superiors, but by the general public?

5. How much time do you spend investigating cruelty cases as opposed to responding to calls about a neighbor's dog barking too much? I don't know about other agencies but Santa Clara COunty we seem to get more of the barking complaints, loose dogs, noisy animals than anything else. We get the some welfare checks that most of the time seem to be unwarranted. And then we get some that all it takes is education to get people on the right track. We can put people on animal care contracts if we as officers feel they will follow our advice.

6. What is your best memory on the job?

7. What is the average hourly pay? Yearly income?

8. What types of opportunities for advancement are there?
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The moon is not shamed by the barking of dogs.
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After dark all cats are leopards.
-American Indian Proverb,
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Old 01-29-2006
KristenB KristenB is offline
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Thanks! I agree, some people should be spayed or nuetered to stop that particular gene pool.

All of the replies thus far have been very helpful to my paper! I'll post it here when I'm finished.
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Old 01-29-2006
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If you guys don't mind can I also get your real names and where you work to include in my paper?
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Old 01-30-2006
Mike W. Mike W. is offline
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Default Re: ACO Interview

1. What do you think about education? I've read that some ACOs think that you may be overqualified if you have a college education and others that say to get as much education as you can. What is your opinion?

I think an education is a very good tool to have in your toolbox. I personally have a Bachelor of Arts in Community Strudies and am two courses shy of a Bachelor of Arts with an advanced Major in Criminology. I only recently got involved in Animal Control. Here we are classified as By-Law Enforcement Officers which is where my education led me after working 8 years in corrections. I do not feel overqualified but I do know that it is not mandatory to have this sort of education in this line of work. Of all the officers here in Halifax, everyone is educated either by university or through employment training such as the three former police officers/military police officers that work in Animal Control.

2. What are the pros and cons of the job?

Pros of the job include working with the public and animals, it develops a feeling of ownership and belonging to the community you work for, you work predominantly outside, and are so busy that the day flies by. Cons, you see a lot of rough things and some of the people you deal with are less than pleasant.

3. On a day to day basis, how mean do people that you deal with get? What is the "danger" rating of this job?

The danger rating here is low. We do not investigate cruelty cases as that is still the SPCA's jurisdiction. We have the risk of being attacked by animals but it is low if you know what you are doing. Biggest risk is from people and if you have people skills, again this is a low risk.

4. Do you think women get treated differently than men in this field? Not by co workers or superiors, but by the general public?

I think women officers are treated different by some members of the public. I have had dealings with a "gentleman" and I use that term loosely, who was absolutely perfect with me but when another staff member, who was female was dealing with him over the phone, had a very rough time with him as he was aggressive with her and none too pleasant. I went back and dealt with him again and he was very good again. Not everyone treat women like this but there are some that are out there.

5. How much time do you spend investigating cruelty cases as opposed to responding to calls about a neighbor's dog barking too much?

We do not deal with cruely here in Nova Scotia. The SPCA still has the contract for cruelty but if we see something that is a cruely issue, we call the SPCA and they immediately investigate.

6. What is your best memory on the job?

Been too short a time to really pick one out. If I had to, I would have to say it was reuniting a lost dog with its family.

7. What is the average hourly pay? Yearly income?

We are paid $22.81 per hour with an additional 4% vacation pay on top of that. This will be increasing to $24.65 at the end of the year. We get 2 hours pay per oncall shift in addition to a 4 hour minimum per call out.

8. What types of opportunities for advancement are there?
Not much room to advance. There is only one supervisor above us before you get to the city management level. I guess you could take the experience you gain from this job and use it somewhere else like in police work.

Hope I helped.
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Old 01-30-2006
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Kristen you ask some very good questions. here is what i can awnser.

1. What do you think about education? I've read that some ACOs think that you may be overqualified if you have a college education and others that say to get as much education as you can. What is your opinion? In NJ you have to have about 90 hours of training to be a ACO/ACI. I almost have a degree in photography and minor in comunications. I also have 15 years of retail management experiance. going back 20 years (wow i'm old) is when i started doing animal control while i was in high school. My training has helped, but my eclectic past has done me the most good.

2. What are the pros and cons of the job? Pro- really nice people that are shocked that you were able to help them. Con- really really dumb people. There are more horse's asses in the world thean horses

3. On a day to day basis, how mean do people that you deal with get? What is the "danger" rating of this job? You go where the day takes you. some days I'm glad I have 3 years of Akido Training. other days every one is very friendly. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

4. Do you think women get treated differently than men in this field? Not by co workers or superiors, but by the general public? When it comes to issues with enforcing the law, Yes. The women I work with soon correct that additude. I find that it's very fun to watch a 5'3 woman verbally tear down a 6'2 moron

5. How much time do you spend investigating cruelty cases as opposed to responding to calls about a neighbor's dog barking too much? again you go where the day takes you. one week I had 4 cases all at once. then for two months nothing

6. What is your best memory on the job? I have alot of good memorys about my job. they all make it worth while

7. What is the average hourly pay? Yearly income? Not enough

8. What types of opportunities for advancement are there? depending on your department and area that you'll serve, you may have to make your own opportunities. keep an open mind and always think outside the box.

Feel free to email me for any other info i can help you with
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Old 01-30-2006
Gromlich Gromlich is offline
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First I have to saythat I think its great that you are doing a paper on ACO's. What made you pick this filed?


1. What do you think about education? I've read that some ACOs think that you may be overqualified if you have a college education and others that say to get as much education as you can. What is your opinion?

The more you have, the better off you are. I majored in Computerized Office Applications. I will always further my education in this field. I am almost finnished with a online course with HSUS in to be a certified Humane Educator. After I finnish this, I havent decided between going for a scholarship for Criminal Justice or a 2 yr course for a bachelors in Hunmane Leadership. Either way my education will continue.

2. What are the pros and cons of the job?

The are several pro's in this career:
Saving the animals
Prosecuting the bad guys
Educating adults and children
Knowing that you are making a difffernce in a life
Building a repor with the citizens
Working with all kinds of differnt animals
Fighting a battel for the animals

As far as the con's in this career?
Dangerous
Mentally draining- compassion fatigue
Sometimes the bad guy gets away
Sometimes the animals lose
Threats



3. On a day to day basis, how mean do people that you deal with get? What is the "danger" rating of this job?

I would say there is alot of danger. Some people are nice and others are beyond even their control. I have been threatened several times from upset people where I have removed animals from. Not only is there the chance while I am working in uniform for someone to get even with me, there is the times where I am out with my 2 children in plain clothes. Not only is it the people I think about but the dogs as well. I have been chaged at many times and THANK the LORD I have not been bitten yet. (Fast dancer) So yes, there is a danger of people and the animals.

4. Do you think women get treated differently than men in this field? Not by co workers or superiors, but by the general public?

Yes, most certainly. I am a female in this career and I have seen the change in people when a male officer walks up. This has only caused me to be more assertive with them. I am not pushy or a bully (2 things I cant stand). I listen to them but when its my time to explain to the laws to you, you better listen.

5. How much time do you spend investigating cruelty cases as opposed to responding to calls about a neighbor's dog barking too much?

It really depends on the cases. If I have an investigation to do and its a serious case, it takes the front seat. Stray calls and barking dogs are not as important as a dog dieing or being starved. I really go day to day. Although it would be nice to have all the time in the world to work on the cases you cant let the public go danger either. Calls that are serious- dangerous dogs attacking- any threat to the citizens or another animal would of course come first.

6. What is your best memory on the job?
Best memory would have to be when I jumped in a canal and rescued a minpin. People thought for about an hour that she was an muscrat and a concerned neighbor called and said they thought they heard it whine. The poor thing was barley alive. She had found a stick in the water and had her two frnt feet on it. The stick wasnt strong enough to hold her and her head kept going under. She was beyond exhausted and the little girl just couldnt go any further. I swam back with her and realized that I hadnt thought of how I would get back out of the canal. With the help of some caring citizens I got out with little min pin. I rushed her to the vet wrapped up in a blanket. When I got her there they pu her on the table and she just laid there motionless. They dried her off and put heat lamps on her. The next day I went to see her and he was all better. Its times like that I will never forget.

7. What is the average hourly pay? Yearly income?

I am ashamed to say that my W2's showed that I made a whopping 25,000.00 for the 2005 year.

8. What types of opportunities for advancement are there?

That one really depends on where you are employed.

Good luck and I hope this helps.
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Old 01-30-2006
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Posted: 01 29, 2006 1:58 pm Post subject: ACO Interview

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1. What do you think about education? I've read that some ACOs think that you may be overqualified if you have a college education and others that say to get as much education as you can. What is your opinion?

Get as much education as you can. When I look to hire, those with the most education tend to end up at the top of the pile. Education, IMO, is a good indicator of the ability to learn, discipline, and focus.
Field Animal Control Control work is an increasingly technical activity and requires folks able to learn.
Also having ACOs with college makes elevating salary schedules much easier.


2. What are the pros and cons of the job?

Pros: You get to see and do things most people will never see and cannot even imagine.
Cons:You get to see and do things most people will never see and cannot even imagine.
The beauty of this work is that from one day to the next you never know what is going to happen. ..even if you've been doing it for decades stuff still happens you've never seen before.
If you like being outdoors and moving around it is a pretty good gig.

3. On a day to day basis, how mean do people that you deal with get? What is the "danger" rating of this job? Not daily...but when they do come they tend to run in streaks...there never seems to be just one, always two or more.
There are lots of dangers in this work though, seperate from the "mean" folks: lots of city driving (accidents), bad animals (bites &scratches), physical injuries from lifting, running, falling.

4. Do you think women get treated differently than men in this field? Not by co workers or superiors, but by the general public?
Which public you talking about? As far as the people go women do tend to be treated worse than white men are BUT not as poorly as Black and Hispanic ACOs. I work in a small city in the South and that is my experience.
As far as the animals goes women have a major advantage over men when it comes to capture...not that women have any magical powers (regarding dogs anyway) but in most households its the women that care & feed for them and if the animal has been physically abused it wasn't a woman that did it. The consequence of this is that the animals have a tendency to come to a woman and run from a man. Women in the field have an advantage in this respect.


5. How much time do you spend investigating cruelty cases as opposed to responding to calls about a neighbor's dog barking too much? Despite what Animal Planet would have you believe Cruelty Investigations are a very small part of your average ACO's day. I would guess that 5% or less of our calls are pertaining to cruelty.


6. What is your best memory on the job?
To many to tell...rest assured that you end up with a ton of really good stories.

7. What is the average hourly pay? Yearly income? It's going to vary around the country.


8. What types of opportunities for advancement are there? Like most government work advancement is slow. If you're willing to move around you can get ahead but otherwise it's just slow stable work.

As far as a career goes, from what I've read, and seen, the average duration of employment in Animal Control is 2.5 years.

Good luck!
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