Recognizing the Role of the Animal Control Officer 

Recognizing the Role of the Animal Control Officer 

NACA Statement on Recognizing the Role of the Animal Control Officer NACA recommends animal control officers receive compensation, training, resources, and equipment necessary to perform the critical services they provide to their communities. 

More specifically, NACA advocates animal control officers be given appropriate humane handling equipment, vehicles in good condition, standardized uniforms, and personal safety equipment. Ideally, animal control officers should also have access to microchip scanners, laptop computers, leashes, collars, pet food, pet supplies, and other resources that enable them to effectively support pets and people in their communities. Finally, NACA recommends agencies review officer compensation to determine if existing salaries are sufficient to recruit and retain qualified and skilled animal control officers.

Animal control officers (ACOs) perform a vast number of services related to pets and people. They work long hours, in dangerous situations, in inclement weather, and oftentimes with inadequate resources, training, and equipment. Animal control officers in most areas are responsible for more than enforcing animal laws; they also assist law enforcement as the animal experts in their community, provide the services of social workers, risk their lives as emergency responders, mitigate community member conflicts, and much more.

They work closely with the justice system, including prosecutors and judges, local and state law enforcement agencies, elected and appointed officials, state veterinarian and health department, the local rabies authority, the fire department, code enforcement, and social services agencies. Although not traditionally classified as first responders, animal control officers perform essential work that ensures public safety for both humans and animals.

Here are just a few of the services provided by animal control officers across the U.S.:

  • Overseeing rabies quarantines
  • Rescuing pets in extreme cold and heat
  • Investigating dangerous and vicious dog cases
  • Investigating dog bites
  • Preventing unnecessary shelter intake and helping reunite lost pets with their people
  • Inspecting pet stores and animal rescues
  • Investigating animal neglect, cruelty, hoarding, and intentional acts of abuse
  • Following up on veterinary and court-ordered inspections of homes
  • Addressing noise and waste complaints
  • Mitigating complaints about outdoor and free-roaming cats
  • Rescuing lost and stray animals that are sick, injured or in immediate danger.
  • Providing food, supplies, and medical support to pet owners
  • Repairing/building fences for dog owners
  • Catching and/or trapping individual loose dogs
  • Assisting pet owners who are in crisis, including incarceration and evictions
  • Responding to emergencies
  • Assisting pet owners experiencing homelessness
  • Managing welfare cases and sick or injured wildlife, exotic animals, and farmed animals
  •  Transporting pets
  • Providing humane education and outreach
  • Provide information to owners on humane pet care
  • Picking up and disposing of deceased animals
  • Supporting community cat programs (TNR and SNR)

In summary, animal control officers today perform a wide variety of functions far beyond the outdated “dog catcher” characterization of the past. They deserve to be properly equipped, trained, and compensated for this complex and difficult work. For a complete listing of the recommended guidelines for animal control officers, visit National Animal Care & Control Association website.

Stay Safe,

Jerrica Owen
Executive Director
National Animal Care & Control Association

NACA endorses New Federal Act for Animals in Disasters!

NACA endorses New Federal Act for Animals in Disasters!

As disaster season gets more extreme each year and affects millions of people and their pets, NACA wanted to share with all our members an important piece of legislation we are endorsing. We want to make sure all our members were aware of this important federal bipartisan legislation put forth by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the Planning for Animal Wellness (PAW) Act.

The PAW Act directs the Administrator of FEMA to establish an advisory group with outside experts that will align FEMA guidance to match current best practices in animal care for disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.

This legislation has been carefully reviewed and by endorsed by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the Humane Society Legislative Fund, the Humane Society of the U.S.(HSUS), the Animal Welfare Institute, the National Animal Care & Control Association (NACA), the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the National Alliance of State Animal & Agricultural Emergency Programs (NASAAEP), and the National Animal Rescue and Sheltering Coalition (NARSC), of which NACA is a proud member of.

This will truly be a unique opportunity for animal welfare groups who have the knowledge and experience, and subject matter experts to help inform FEMA direction and hopefully support stronger responses to animals during disasters!

NACA has a unique role during disasters, our strength is in our membership and being able to help match the needs with the resources. To find out more about how to get involved during times of disaster, please visit our NACA Disaster Portal for links to training, resources, and other disaster related information.

We thank you for your continued support of the profession, the animals, your communities, and NACA – we couldn’t do it without your dedication to the mission!

Stay Safe,

Jerrica Owen
Executive Director
National Animal Care & Control Association

Deputy Angela Walters – NACA’s June Humane Highlight

Deputy Angela Walters
Cheboygan County Michigan

Deputy Angela Walters is currently one of two deputy Animal Control Officers for Cheboygan County Michigan. Deputy Walters has a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Lake Superior State University and has been proudly serving her community for the past 15 years.  

In her role she has worked with all kinds of animals including cats, dogs, cows, horses, snakes, pigs, and even a bull. Her office is based out of the Cheboygan County Humane Society where she also helps with filing, data entry, statistics, and whatever else is needed. Deputy Walters is thankful and understand that without the help that the Cheboygan County Humane Society staff she could not do her job to its fullest. When asked about her experience as a NACA members, she had this to say “Being a NACA member has been a rewarding experience for me as I love to learn new things and I have enjoyed many of the training programs that are available through NACA. NACA along with the Justice Clearinghouse have made great strides in helping us ACO’s to improve our game by make training more available for small and/or busy departments to get great education. NACA has helped to ease my mind whenever I start to feel unsure of my knowledge in my field as there is always training available. Thank you so much NACA for all that you do for us ACO’s.” 

When Deputy Walters is not at work, she enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter and help with her high school class board, and really likes to dance, paint and read. Thank you to deputy Walters for all you do for the animals, co-workers, and your community!! We are thankful for your dedication and hard work! 

Recognizing the Role of the Animal Control Officer 

NACA Statement on the Potential for Expansion of Courtroom Animal Advocates Program (CAAP) Laws

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Dear colleagues,

NACA wants to thank you for continuing to go above and beyond every day for the animals and people in your communities. At our very core, NACA envisions a world in which all animal care and control professionals are respected as essential public servants and receive consistent support, resources and training allowing them to effectively and compassionately achieve the highest quality of life for the animals and citizens in the community they serve. Please read below for our most current position statement in response to the potential for expansion of Courtroom Animal Advocates Program (CAAP) Laws. This statement is directly in line with that of NACA’s 44-year-old mission, vision, and values. We are honored to be doing our part to help protect those that protect the animals and people in their communities, the brave Animal Control Professionals. Thank you for all you do!

Background

Courtroom Animal Advocate Program (CAAP) is described as “laws that allow legal practitioners – supervised law students or volunteer lawyers – to advocate for animal victims in criminal cruelty cases. Volunteers appear in court and assist the judge by drafting briefs, conducting research, gathering information from veterinarians, animal control officers, and law enforcement officials, and making recommendations on behalf of the animal victim’s interest.”

These laws are based on Desmond’s Law, passed in Connecticut in October 2016, which allows legal advocates to testify on behalf of animal victims in cruelty and neglect cases. The impacts of these laws have yet to be studied and there is no evidence to show the rates of animal crimes have dropped in Connecticut since the law was enacted in 2016.

There is a likelihood that several CAAP laws will be introduced in multiple states this coming year. These laws have the potential to negatively impact animal control agencies and officers.

Animal Control Officers have historically served as advocates for animals in cruelty and neglect cases and we are concerned these laws have a real potential to further marginalize and silence the voices and experiences of the animal control officers themselves. We believe that adding an external advocate to already-complex cases is likely to lead to a divergence of opinions on what is ‘best’ for the animal victim. It is not clear how the varying opinions of the investigating officer, the prosecutor, and the court-appointed advocate would be weighted.

NACA’s Recommendation 

Given the potential negative consequences of CAAP bills, as well as the fact that there is no data to show that CAAP laws achieve their stated purpose, we recommend these laws are carefully studied to determine the impact on animal victims of cruelty and neglect and on the overall welfare of animals. We do not recommend the introduction or adoption of new CAAP legislation at this time, due to this lack of information.

Further, we recommend animal control officers throughout the U.S. are afforded ongoing opportunities to provide meaningful feedback on any bills that will impact animal cruelty and neglect cases in their state.

Animal Control Officers’ Expertise and Experience Should Drive Policy Change

Animal control agencies consistently identify several key challenges related to the successful investigation and prosecution of animal cruelty and neglect cases. These include:

  1.  a critical lack of human and financial resources to adequately investigate and prosecute; and
  2.  a disconnect between animal control officers and the rest of the justice system; and
  3.  a lack of urgency that often results in months to years-long wait for animals in shelter kennels waiting for cases to be heard; and
  4.  a confusing and outdated state and local law when it comes to animal cruelty and neglect.

We ask policymakers to engage with animal control professionals to better understand the issues they face and to create laws and policies to address them.

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With gratitude,

Jerrica Owen, CAWA | Executive Director
National Animal Care & Control Association

ACO 1 or ACO 2 Course Scholarships

ACO 1 or ACO 2 Course Scholarships

NACA (National Animal Care and Control Association) has been awarded a grant from the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) to help fund a scholarship program through which NACA will award scholarships for ACO 1 or ACO 2 courses, which will include a one-year membership to NACA and access to additional professional development webinars and resource library. Visit www.nacanet.org/scholarship-fund for more information and to apply.

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