Animal Cruelty Investigator
Any type of criminal justice job requires an ability to handle difficult or upsetting situations, but this is particularly true for animal cruelty investigators. Animal cruelty investigators may respond to calls from residents about animal abuse, animal hoarding, or animal neglect. While you may find situations in which the animals are safe and healthy, you may often run into situations where animals are in bad health due to mistreatment. While this may be tough criteria for animal lovers, it can make you feel good to rescue animals who are living under poor or inhumane conditions.
To learn how you can become an Animal Cruelty Investigator, contact the schools featured below to learn more about their law enforcement programs.
Animal Cruelty Investigator Job Description
Animal cruelty investigators do a fair amount of research into each report. They may delve into the animal protection laws of a specific city, keep files on repeat offenders, and learn how to assess animals' health to determine whether or not they need immediate veterinary care. Before removing an animal or animals from a home or business, they need to be able to prove that the animals are living in unsafe, abusive, or illegal conditions.
There are many educational routes to this career. Some investigators work in the veterinary field first, as a veterinary technician or assistant. Others begin as police officers or other criminal justice professionals. Whichever route you take to get into this field, you'll likely need to attend an animal cruelty investigations school. This type of education may build on your veterinary or criminal justice education to flesh out your knowledge in both areas.
There are many traits that make a successful animal cruelty investigator. Compassion and a willingness to act are both very important, as these traits can help you work quickly to get animals out of a dangerous situation. However, it's also crucial to be able to handle extreme cases of animal cruelty. During the course of your job, you may come across animals that cannot be saved or animals that have died as a result of abuse.
One of the main reasons people get into this field is to make a positive difference in the lives of animals. KTXS reports on a recent animal abandonment case in Eastland, Texas. Animal cruelty investigators rescued dogs, horses, chickens, and ducks that were malnourished and improperly homed.
How to Become an Animal Cruelty Investigator
Many police departments and animal welfare agencies have small animal cruelty investigation teams, so investigators must be trained in all aspects of animal welfare. There are two main ways to get started in this field. Since this job combines animal care and criminal justice, an educational background in either field can provide the knowledge base necessary for this career. You may complete a veterinary technician program or an Associate's degree program in criminal justice. In many cases, a criminal justice degree may be more beneficial in this field; if your job requires you to carry a gun, you'll need the firearms training provided by a criminal justice program.
Prior to beginning a career as an animal cruelty investigator, your department or agency may send you to animal cruelty investigation training. Since this can be a fairly small unit in most areas, you may have to travel for your training. The National Animal Cruelty Investigations School hosts training classes all over the country. To graduate, you must attend class for 40 hours per week for three weeks.
Basic classes include nutrition and anatomy, animal handling, animal behavior, breed identification, and animal law. As you progress to advanced investigation and expert investigation, you may tackle less common crimes and types of animal cruelty. Coursework at these levels includes compassion fatigue, high-volume breeders, confinement operations, animal sexual abuse, and ritual animal crimes.
Since some departments may require animal control workers to perform arrests and use a firearm, you may need to attend police academy training on top of your other training requirements. If you know where you would like to work, you may wish to look at animal cruelty investigator job listings in that area to find out what the specific requirements are in your region.
Animal Cruelty Investigator Salary and Career Outlook
O*Net reports that animal control workers earn an average salary of $34,550 per year. Across the nation, salaries can vary quite a bit. Animal control workers in Florida claim a median salary of $34,490 per year (CareerOneStop, 2017). In Texas, the average salary is $33,380, slightly lower than the national average (CareerOneStop, 2017). California animal cruelty investigators have an average salary of $49,240 (O*Net, 2017). Your salary potential may increase if you have more education credentials; police departments may offer a salary differential for different levels of education completed.
Overall, O*Net expects job openings for people in this field to increase by 5-9% between 2016 and 2026. With training and experience, you may work in a variety of settings as an animal cruelty investigator. In some cities, cruelty investigators are part of the police department. In other areas, animal cruelty investigators are part of the ASPCA or another animal protection agency.
If you are looking for a law enforcement career that helps animals, learn more about becoming an animal cruelty investigator today. Contact the schools listed here to get started today!
Animal Cruelty Investigation Resources
- ASPCA Animal Cruelty Investigations - Field Investigations and Response Team
- American Animal Cruelty Investigations School - Professional Training for Law Enforcement and Animal Control Officers
- Animal Humane Society's Human Investigations Team
- SPCA: Get Involved in Becoming an Animal Cruelty Investigator
- Humane Society Resources for Law Enforcement Animal Cruelty Investigators
Featured Schools Accepting Students from Across the US:
Online programs may not be available in all areas.