Harm to animals or neglect that causes suffering is an important focus for humane societies and law enforcement agencies. Animal cruelty investigators follow up on reports of animal abuse, remove animals from dangerous situations, and collect evidence for potential prosecution of the owners in court.
Some states view cruelty investigators as part of the division of animal control though an increasing number of states designate animal cruelty investigations as a separate area of law enforcement.
Animal Cruelty Investigator Requirements
A valid driver’s license and good driving record is required with your application. College level courses in psychology and sociology will help as well as knowledge of the abuse laws of your state and familiarity with law enforcement procedures.
Volunteering at a local animal shelter will help you learn the basics of dealing with frightened or injured animals. You need to be able to communicate orally and in writing and be able to work as part of a team with other investigators and law enforcement personnel.
This is a good career for those who love animals, but be warned: you will be exposed to harsh realities associated with animal cruelty. It takes emotional fortitude to accept that not all animals can be saved and to remain professional when viewing extreme suffering. Dealing with people who do not understand the damage they cause or who do not take responsibility for it requires tact and patience.
Education and Training
Some states now require completion of basic law enforcement training and certification as a peace officer while others require you to be in a field related to law enforcement, military, or security with one or more years of experience in that field.
Many colleges are now adding courses that deal with animal abuse and abuse investigations to train people for this growing career. This is a relatively new career and many current animal abuse investigators were previously employed in law enforcement or worked with humane societies.
You will also be trained in methods of dealing with people, interviewing witnesses, maintaining chain of custody of evidence, documentation, and photography of problems or wounds.
Animal Cruelty Investigator Salary
Salaries vary depending on experience, responsibilities of the position, and cost of living in your area. The average salary for these jobs is $31,000 per year. Higher salaries are common for those who investigate animal cruelty as a law enforcement officer.
Animal Cruelty Investigator Career Opportunities
This is a relatively new and rapidly growing career. Many animal cruelty investigators have background and experience in law enforcement while others move into the job through experience working with animals in humane society shelters or as veterinarian assistants.
There are opportunities for specialization in investigations of large animals, illegally imported species, or domestic pets. The work can be emotionally draining but each day brings a different challenge and the satisfaction of making a positive difference in the lives of animals and in your community.
With experience, you may have the opportunity to move into leadership of a cruelty task force or participate in large scale investigations. Supervisory positions are also available as coordinators and instructors.
Take a look at other great Criminal Justice Careers.