So, You Wanna Be an Animal Cop?
You've seen them in action on Animal Precinct and now you want to be a humane law enforcement officer, too. That's awesome! Making sure that people follow laws about the care of animals and rescuing animals who have been abused is an extremely rewardingand extremely demandingcareer! First, the nitty-gritty details:
To be an HLE officer for the ASPCA in New York City, you must live in New York State and be certified as a peace officer.
If you live outside New York and are interested in becoming an HLE officer, you will have to contact your local shelter or animal control office in your state to see if they have a humane law enforcement program. Visit our online shelter directory to find a shelter in your area.
What should you study in school? That's really up to you. Classes in criminology and animal sciences are great to take. And prior experience as a police officer, park ranger or peace officer may make you a more attractive candidate when applying for a job as a humane law enforcement officer.
"But What Can I Do NOW?" You Ask!
Even if you're years away from getting a job, you're never too young to get started. Thinking big and planning ahead will get you far.
We asked ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement Special Investigator Annemarie Lucas for her advice for kids who want to do what she does when they get older:
If you see someone hurting an animal, or know of an animal who looks sick, injured or does not have adequate food, water or shelter, it's important to get help fast. Never try to help the animal yourself. Instead, tell an adult. Together, you and the adult can call the police or your local animal shelter.
"Start as early as possible helping animals," says Officer Lucas. That involves seeing what's going on with animals in your town. Volunteering at your local shelter (if they accept kids your age) is a great way to help animals. And if you have pets, you can get a head start by helping the animals right in your own home! Make a list of the things that your pets need to be healthy, and create a schedule of the various duties that go into caring for them. Then, working together, you and your family can divide up these duties.
Read as much as you can about animals, and learn to understand what they need to be happy and healthy.
Sure, you may totally love animals, but you'll need more than that to be an HLE officer. "Remember, it takes a certain kind of person to do this job," says Officer Lucas. "You have to be able to keep a cool head and not show anger when dealing with people who hurt animals. It certainly isn't glamorous--you have to get down and dirty every day!"
Learn 14 cool facts about ASPCA animal cops!