Animal control service

An animal control service or animal control agency is an entity charged with responding to requests for help with animals ranging from wild animals, dangerous animals, or animals in distress. An individual who works for such an entity was once known as a dog catcher, but is generally now called an animal control officer, and may be an employee or a contractor – commonly employed by a municipality, county, shire,[1] or other subnational government area.

Duties and functionEdit

Animal control services may be provided by the government or through a contract with a humane society or society for the prevention of cruelty to animals. Officers may work for, or with, police or sheriff departments, parks and recreation departments, and health departments by confining animals or investigating animal bites to humans.

The most common requirements for this job is some prior experience handling animals on a farm, as a veterinary assistant or animal trainer.[2] Training is primarily on the job but some jurisdictions (like Virginia, North Carolina and Texas) require formal and continuing education[3] available from community colleges and trade associations. Some animal cruelty investigators are specially trained police officers,[4] the New York American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) employs several Humane Law Enforcement Officers with some police powers (including the power of arrest); and throughout the United States this arrangement is becoming more common.

Animals may be returned to their owners, or transported to a veterinary clinic or animal shelter. Animals held in the shelter can be returned to their owners, adopted, released to the wild, held as evidence in a criminal investigation or euthanized.[5]

Active cruelty to animals, such as chaining, may be an indicator of serious psychological[6][7] or violence problems.[8][9][10][10][11] Because of these links, in some places animal control officers have begun to look for and report on other issues.[12]


An American colloquialism labels an unpopular politician by saying that he or she "couldn't be elected dogcatcher", with "dogcatcher" referring to a very low-level elected office. For example, in 2017 U.S. President Donald Trump criticized outgoing Senator Bob Corker by tweeting:

"Bob Corker, who helped President O[bama] give us the bad Iran Deal & couldn't get elected dog catcher in Tennessee, is now fighting Tax Cuts.... / ...Corker dropped out of the race in Tennesse (sic) when I refused to endorse him, and now is only negative on anything Trump. Look at his record!"[13]

In practice, animal control officers are generally appointed by an executive authority and not elected.[14] However, historic equivalents such as poundmaster, which was tasked with the control of stray livestock, and hog reeve, whose mandate extended exclusively to stray swine, were elective offices in Colonial and early American New England. The town of Duxbury, Vermont is said to be the only place in the contemporary United States that actually elects a dog catcher.[15]


  1. ^ "RANGER SERVICES / POUND / LOST YOUR CAT OR DOG?" Archived January 2, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Entry Requirements" Archived January 23, 2016, at the Wayback Machine,
  3. ^ VA Requirements, Code of Virginia
  4. ^ "Requirements for Becoming an Animal Cruelty Investigator",
  5. ^ Notaro, Stephen J. "Disposition Of Shelter Companion Animals From Nonhuman Animal Control Officers, Citizen Finders, And Relinquished By Caregivers." Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 7.3 (2004): 181-188. Academic Search Premier. Web. March 13, 2013.
  6. ^ "Pet-Abuse.Com – Animal Cruelty". Retrieved March 17, 2010.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Facts About Animal Abuse & Domestic Violence Archived November 20, 2012, at the Wayback Machine American Humane Association Accessed November 12, 2006
  9. ^ "Domestic Violence & the Animal Abuse Link". Archived from the original on December 29, 2008. Retrieved November 6, 2008.
  10. ^ a b Felthous, Alan R. (1998). Aggression against Cats, Dogs, and People. In Cruelty to Animals and Interpersonal Violence: Readings in Research and Applications. West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press. pp. 159–167.
  11. ^ Goleman, Daniel (August 7, 1991). "Clues to a Dark Nurturing Ground for One Serial Killer". New York Times. Retrieved April 30, 2010.
  12. ^ May Eriksen, Alanah (September 16, 2008). "SPCA, CYF police each other's patches". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved September 29, 2008.
  13. ^ Sullivan, Eileen (October 24, 2017). "Corker 'Couldn't Get Elected Dog Catcher,' Trump Says in Renewed Attack". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  14. ^ Beam, Christopher (November 5, 2010). "Dog Race: Is dogcatcher actually an elective office?". Slate Magazine. Retrieved November 6, 2010.
  15. ^ Kolb Noyes, Eileen (March 24, 2018). "Can't Get Elected Dogcatcher? Try Running In Duxbury, Vt".

External linksEdit