ANIMAL SHELTER EMPLOYEE
Most animal shelters are nonprofit organizations. That means they don't make any money over what they need to cover expenses—just enough to pay employees' salaries and keep things up and running. So if you decide to work in a shelter, don't expect a fat paycheck. Starting salaries often offer no more than $10,000 per year. You will be paid, of course, but you'd better be there because you love working with animals, not for the money.
Animal shelter employees hold many different positions. Animal caretakers, for instance, feed the animals, clean cages, and provide water. They also keep records of all the animals that are checked into the shelter and note when they are finally released to new homes. They keep track of all tests that are conducted at the shelter and medications and treatments that are given there, and sometimes they even do vaccinations if a veterinarian or veterinary technician is there to help. Finally, they often spend time working with the public, answering questions about humane pet care, how the shelter works, and which animals are available for adoption. Unfortunately, another job of the animal caretakers is euthanization. When they euthanize animals, they give them a special drug that painlessly puts them to death. This is done only as a last resort, when the animal is seriously ill or injured or when it's impossible to find a new home for it. This can be very stressful for the animal shelter employee.
Most of the animals at animal shelters are domesticated, like cats and dogs. Some shelters, however, also care for farm animals, and others specialize in caring for wild animals. Animal shelters that care for wild animals are usually called wildlife refuges or wildlife rehabilitation centers.
Other people who typically find work in animal shelters include humane investigators, humane educators, and shelter managers. Humane investigators do detective work when they hear about an abandoned or injured animal and see if they can find out how the animal ended up that way. If they feel the law was broken, they call the police and try to make sure whoever abused the animal is brought to justice. They never lose focus on the animal, however, and bring those that need help to the shelter so they can be cared for.
Humane educators teach the public about humane treatment of animals. They travel around the local community and talk to people about what it means to be a responsible pet owner. The job of the shelter manager is to make sure the shelter runs smoothly and everything works the way it is supposed to work.
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