Animal field services professionals are people who work out in the community as animal protection (animal control) officers, humane investigators, outreach staff, community cat trappers, and others. Field services are governed by ordinances, laws and regulations, as well as internal organizational policies. Field services professionals perform a huge array of services to the community and provide a vital connection point at the intersection of people, animals, and the environment.
Traditionally (the 1850s to 1990s) field services roles were primarily dedicated to impounding animals, tackling cruelty and neglect, getting unsafe animals off the streets, and issuing citations to people violating animal statutes. More recently, these roles have been expanded to include countless other services, including outreach/education, providing supplies and food, helping pet owners access veterinary services, and getting lost pets home quickly and safely.
For the purpose of this document, the terms ‘animal control,’ ‘animal protection,’ and ‘field services’ will be used interchangeably.
Many of the laws and ordinances related to animals were written decades ago and do not reflect that pets are considered family members by more than 90% of pet owners. This poses challenges for today’s animal officers and outreach workers, who have shifted from a primarily punitive (punishment-based) to a supportive (education and help-based) approach to helping pets and people in their communities. For the purposes of this element, we are referring primarily to animal protection and animal control officers, though most of this information applies to anyone helping pets and people outside of the shelter walls.
HASS is all about building safe, humane communities. HASS embraces a One Health approach which means the health of animals is tied to the health of people and the environment. When animal services focus on addressing root causes that lead to public safety issues, provide resources to keep dogs safely in their yards, and put a high priority on swiftly resolving situations that put people and animals in danger, the community will be safer. Additionally, when communities implement the HASS elements effectively, more animals will be sterilized, vaccinated and identified and pet related problems will be resolved before they become dangerous to health and safety.
The National Animal Care & Control Association is the nation’s leading association supporting the work of animal welfare field services professionals. NACA is committed to setting the standard in professionalism in animal welfare and public safety through training, networking, and advocacy. NACA believes that carefully selected and properly trained field services personnel can correct pet-related community problems.
NACA provides training, position statements, best practices, camaraderie, and support for animal control officers and all animal welfare professionals.
Pima Animal Care Center’s Officer Salazar saw this man and his dog while she was out in the field. Officer Salazar had extra dog food, blankets, hygiene products, and flyers with information about pet assistance programs that she was able to provide to this man and his dog.
While this man and his dog are experiencing homelessness, Officer Salazar noticed the dog was in great condition. It was clear that the man and his dog should stay together, and Pima Animal Care Center was able to support that through their field services.
Interested in learning about the cat side of things? Check out the resources below.
Find graphics, storytelling ideas, and ways you can support implementing Pet Support Services as marketing staff.