How to be an animal cruelty investigator

Written by chiara sakuwa
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How to be an animal cruelty investigator
Animal cruelty investigators provide aid to animals displaced by natural disasters. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Animal cruelty investigators are professionals that respond to field calls reporting incidents of animal mistreatment, conduct investigations and work with police departments to resolve reported incidents. Animal cruelty investigators are, in most cases, police officers that have completed specialised training courses in the animal control and cruelty prevention field. However, non-profit organisations, such as the Humane Society or the American Society to Prevent Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), also employ and train animal cruelty investigators. If you are interested in pursuing a career in animal cruelty investigations, you can prepare by taking relevant courses, volunteering at a pound or animal shelter and entering a law-enforcement profession.

Skill level:

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  1. 1

    Research opportunities within your state or local police department pertaining to animal cruelty investigations. If you are already a police officer or other law-enforcement professional, inquire about department-issued animal control or cruelty-investigation training programs. If you are not currently in law enforcement, you can still seek employment and training opportunities with non-profit animal rights organisations. Taking relevant college courses, such as animal sciences, criminal justice or veterinary sciences also helps.

  2. 2

    Apply for the appropriate training program offered by your department or organisation of interest. You may be subject to a background investigation to ensure overall suitability for animal cruelty investigations. Ensure that you meet any department or organisation criteria.

  3. 3

    Register for the appropriate training course by the scheduled start date. Training programs vary by organisation, but can span from 45 hours to one week. Complete the appropriate training program successfully and obtain your official animal cruelty investigations certification.

Tips and warnings

  • Although law-enforcement experience is preferred, virtually anyone who is interested and meets state or organisation-issued criteria can take the training course and receive the certification.
  • Animal cruelty investigators handle incidents involving unattended, abandoned and potentially dangerous animals, including "exotic" animals, aside from mistreatment cases.
  • Some trade schools also offer courses and certificates relevant to animal cruelty investigations, as well as universities and community colleges.
  • Only animal cruelty investigators who are also state or local law-enforcement officers are authorised to apprehend offenders and make arrests.

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