Pet Adoption Counselor
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The usual duties for pet adoption counselors include screening potential pet adopters, reviewing applications, filing paperwork, introducing pets to potential adopters and observing their interactions during the visit, educating adopters about their pet’s needs, training and supervising volunteers, setting up appointments for visits or veterinary procedures, and processing adoption fees.
Pet adoption counselors may also assist with a variety of other duties at the shelter such as processing donations, answering phones, updating records, filling out cage cards, ordering supplies, walking dogs, participating in obedience training exercises, fundraising, giving tours, and participating in mobile adoption drives at off-site locations.
Since many adopters work 9 to 5 jobs during the week, pet adoption counselors may be required to work some nights, weekends, and holidays as the adoption schedule demands. Mobile pet adoption drives tend to require evening or weekend staffing, though these are usually held as special events and not each week.
Pet adoption counselors may find employment with animal shelters, humane societies, and nonprofit animal welfare organizations. They may rise from an entry level position as a pet adoption counselor to a more managerial role, such as pet adoption manager or facility coordinator.
Education & Training
A college degree is not necessary to begin a career as a pet adoption counselor, though it does add strength to a candidate’s resume. Experience working with animals and a genuine passion for rescue work will usually be sufficient in lieu of formal training at the college level. Many pet adoption counselors start out as volunteers. They may also transition from working as kennel assistants, dog trainers. pet groomers. or veterinary technicians .
Since they will largely be concerned with administrative and customer service related tasks, pet adoption counselors should have experience using computer programs for record keeping and word processing (generally Microsoft World, Excel, and Office). They should also be skilled communicators and be comfortable working with the general public over the phone and in person; a large part of the job is public relations.
As with most careers that involve some
direct contact with animals, pet adoption counselors should take care to follow proper safety precautions when interacting with adoptable pets, and they should monitor potential adopters to make sure they follow proper safety precautions as well to minimize the chances for an accident.
The salary that a pet adoption counselor earns can vary widely based on their responsibilities, experience, and the region in which the position is located. Most pet adoption counselor positions do yield smaller salaries on the animal career salary spectrum, but this is one of the careers where people emphasize that they are truly in it for the love of animals and not for the money.
Indeed.com cites a salary of $36,000 to $41,000 for pet adoption counselors in 2012, though these levels of compensation were likely derived from job listings designed to seek out supervisory or experienced counselors. A more realistic estimate comes from SimplyHired.com, which cites a salary of $20,000 for pet adoption counselors in April of 2012. This is more in line with the $10 to $12 an hour that pet adoption counselors can expect to earn in most regions.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies pet adoption counselors as part of the “nonfarm animal caretaker” category. The BLS salary survey indicates that the median income for these caretakers involved in social advocacy organizations was $21,570 ($10.37 per hour) in May of 2011.
The number of shelters, humane societies, and animal rescue groups has increased steadily over the past decade to accommodate the rising number of unwanted or stray pets.
According to statistics provided by The National Council on Pet Population, Study and Policy (NCPPSCP), the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) estimates that there are approximately 5000 community shelters currently operating in the U.S. These groups take in 6 to 8 million dogs and cats each year, and place about 3 to 4 million adoptable animals in new homes.
The NCPPSCP statistics also indicate that about 65 percent of pet owners obtain their pets for free or at a relatively low adoption cost. The American Pet Products Association reports that there are pets in 62 percent of U.S. households, with approximately 78.2 million dogs and 86.4 million cats currently residing in these households.
It is expected that more positions will be created for pet adoption specialists each year as more shelters are built and populated.