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Animal Control Officers in California

Updated on August 1, 2014
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Impounding Animals

Animal Control Officers in the state of California enforce the State Penal Code, County Ordinance Codes, and City Municipal codes as they relate to animals. Animal Control Officers may be tasked with impounding stray, injured, aggressive, feral, timid, sick, dead, and otherwise unwanted animals based off calls for service from the community they serve. The tools an Officer must be familiar with to capture an animal are a capture pole, a leash, and traps. Depending on the state of the animal an Officer will decide, based on training and experience, which tool to implement to facilitate the humane capture and transport of the animal. Animal Control Officers are also responsible for emergency euthanasia of an animal if it is inhumane to relocate a sick or injured animal for treatment at a Veterinarian.

After the animal has been impounded from the field it is the responsibility of the Animal Control Officer to transport the animal to the local shelter. In most jurisdictions the animal is placed in a kennel, and logged into a database such as Chameleon. After the animal is logged into the Database most jurisdictions post the animals on-line for the owners and potential adopters to view. After the animal is logged in the responsibility of the care of the animal is then transferred to the Animal Care Worker. However due to budget limitations some jurisdictions have their Officers also perform the shelter duties.

License Enforcement - Rabies Control

Animal Control Officers are also tasked with ensuring the community they serve is in compliance with licensing requirements. A valid dog license is required from your local Animal Control Authority everywhere in the State of California. Dog licenses are more than a tax. State law mandates that all jurisdictions require licensing to ensure compliance with mandatory Rabies Vaccinations. This is an effort to prevent Rabies from becoming a prevalent Zoonotic disease. Officers issue citations for these violations. These citations may be Notice to Appears requiring proof of compliance or payment of a fine to the local court for an infraction or they may be Administrative Citations handled directly through the department.

Cruelty to Animals

Officers may also investigate complaints of cruelty to animals. Animal Control Officers can obtain Search Warrants signed by a Judge, and can execute said warrant. If a violation of law is found they make arrests and seize animals. The animals would then be transported to a staff or local Veterinarian for treatment. After an animal cruelty investigation is completed a case is filed by the Officer with the District Attorney's office. Once accepted by the District Attorney the Officer may be subpoenaed to testify in the Superior Court within their
jurisdiction.

Laws Granting Powers - P.C.832 Certification

In order for Animal Control Officers to complete their investigations the State of California Penal Code Section 830.9 grants Animal Control Officers the powers of Peace Officers while on duty if they have completed Penal Code Section 832 certification for Arrest. It also states that if an Officer completes the Firearm component of Penal Code Section 832 they may carry a firearm while on duty. Many Community Colleges offer this certification.

Public Contact

As an agent for a public entity Animal Control Officers are always in the public's eye. Most encounters with the public are pleasant, and involve interviews about violations of local laws. An Animal Control Officer must always be aware of their surroundings, and of the actions they take. Everything an Officer does represents their department as they are highly visible.

However there are times an Officer may run into an unruly individual, and must have the ability to defuse the situation. Though It is not always possible to keep an individual rational when confronting them about the standard of care they are providing an animal. Sometimes individuals do become violent when faced with the reality that they are losing their animal, and an Officer must be prepared for that eventuality. In situations like these most Officers call for assistance from the local law enforcement entity.

Working as an Animal Control Officer is a rewarding career where one will encounter many different people, animals, and situations.

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