Education & certification for animal welfare professionals
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2004:
MIAMI–Advertised as paying the
successful applicant from $82,403 to $130,446,
depending on qualifications and experience, the
open executive director’s job at the Miami/Dade
County Animal Services Division is among the most
demanding positions in the animal
The hiree will supervise 70 people, from
veterinarians to low-wage cage-cleaners. Serving
one of the most culturally diverse communities in
the U.S., the new executive director will be
expected to perform as a top-drawer white-collar
Yet, like most similar posts, the
Miami/Dade job is described to applicants as a
senior post for personnel of mostly blue-collar
background. Some formal education, is
expected, but the job description anticipates
that most applicants will have worked their way
up through the ranks, like master sergeants,
not graduates of officer candidate school.
Contacting ANIMAL PEOPLE as part of her
search for qualified applicants, Sandra L.
Jackson of the Miami/Dade County Personnel
Services Division stipulated that the position
“requires a bachelor’s degree and a minimum of
five to nine years of progressively responsible
managerial and administrative experience within
animal control or animal welfare agencies.”
Those typical and traditional
requirements describe most of the people who have
been hired to head humane societies and animal
control agencies during the past 25 years.
Before that, holders of bachelor’s degrees were fewer.
Under a decade ago, a shelter executive
director with an advanced degree was almost
always a shelter veterinarian or humane educator
who was promoted to the top from within the
agency, or an attorney who took the job after
serving on the board of directors.
That seems to be changing. As public
expectations of animal care-and-control agencies
increase, along with the size of their budgets
and the numbers of personnel the executive
director is expected to handle, successful
applicants for the best paying and most
prestigious jobs are increasingly often not
promoted through the ranks.
The most successful and longest-tenured
executive directors are more and more likely to
have earned management and fund-raising skills
outside the animal control and animal welfare
fields, while search committees seeking an
executive director are increasingly aware that
the ever more specialized key positions within an
agency are less and less likely to equip the
people who hold them to supervise the workers in
Nothing in shelter vet work, kennel
management, animal-related law enforcement,
humane education, fundraising, public
relations, or adoption promotion intrinsically
prepares someone to be the boss.
Thus the qualifications the City of Los
Angeles recently sought in a nationwide search
for a new Animal Services Department general
manager were not remarkably different from those
sought in Miami, but the profile of the
successful applicant came as a surprise to both
Los Angeles Animal Services personnel and local
activists, who had speculatively tossed names
about for months.
Los Angeles offered “$120,436 to
$180,612, commensurate with experience and
salary history,” to supervise 250 employees.
The search committee wanted “a bachelor’s
degreeŠpreferably with a concentration in public
administration, human services, animal
services, health services or a related field. A
master’s degree is a plus,” the job description
said. “At least five years of significant,
high-level management experience is required in a
public agency, private sector firm, or an
animal services/welfare organization.”
The search committee, headed by SPCA/LA
president Madeline Bernstein, selected Guerdon
H. Stuckey, previously director of neighborhood
and community services for Rockville, Maryland.
Stuckey has never worked in animal
services before, but holds a master’s degree in
public administration from the University of
North Carolina, and has nonprofit experience as
assistant to the president of the Urban League in
Charlotte, North Carolina.
Stuckey’s appointment was greeted with a
graffiti attack on one Los Angeles shelter,
apparently by some of the activist faction whose
home demonstrations, vandalism, and other
harassment drove predecessor Jerry Greenwalt into
But Stuckey was hired in part because his
personal history in resolving housing-related
conflicts suggests that he is not likely to be
intimidated by nightrider tactics.
The professional organizations in the
animal care and control field are not just
standing by while top-paying jobs go to outsiders.
Formal efforts to improve the
qualifications of animal care and control
directors may have begun with the 1970 formation
of the Society of Animal Welfare Administrators.
The smallest professional organization of note in
the field, with just 364 members, SAWA
functions much like a trade guild.
Membership meetings have traditionally
(but not always) been held in conjunction with
the training conferences offered by national
animal advocacy groups.
On August 10, 2004 SAWA unveiled a
“national certification program for animal
welfare professionals,” intended to provide a
credential that SAWA president Gary Tiscornia
hopes will be accepted as the equivalent of
possessing a master’s degree.
To become a Certified Animal Welfare
Administrator, via SAWA and a partnering agency,
CPS Human Resource Services, candidates must
pass a 100-question multiple choice examination
covering five subject areas: administration and
management (22%), personnel supervision and
leadership (24%), public relations and
fundraising (21%), animal care and treatment
(19%), and reasoning (15%).
To take the test, candidates must have
served a minimum of three years in a senior
executive capacity with an animal sheltering
organization, within five years of the test
date, plus three years of experience managing
paid staff in any field, within 10 years of the
[Info: 877-477-2262, x220.] “Though animal welfare and protection is
a highly specialized field,” Tiscornia said in
announcing the certification program, “there is
currently no master’s degree program” for
potential shelter executives.
That could be debated. The Tufts Center
for Animals and Public Policy, founded in 1983
as a part of the Tufts University School of
Veterinary Medicine, has offered a Master of
Science degree in Animals and Public Policy since
Focal topics for successful Tufts M.S.
candidates have included pet overpopulation and
current trends in animal sheltering, the role of
animals in childrens’ lives, veterinary
forensics and recognition of animal abuse,
animal fertility control, state and federal
wildlife management policy, preservation of
endangered species, the impact of ecotourism on
endangered species such as gorillas, humane
strategies for nuisance wildlife control,
comparative study of religious and cultural views
of animals, and professional ethics for
Tufts promotes the required course work
as “a full-time program (32 credit hours) that is
expected to take no more than 12 months to
complete. This is a program in residence,”
Tufts warns. “There is no distance learning
option. Scheduled classes run from the end of
August through May. During the summer, students
are expected to work on final projects and wrap
up any outstanding tutorials. It is rare for a
student to have completed all requirements by the
end of classes in May, so all applicants are
encouraged to include time during the summer
months into their financial and personal
Serious planning is essential, because
tuition and living costs to attend Tufts will
approximately equal a year’s salary for the
executive director of a mid-sized humane society
or animal control agency. Since the M.S.
candidate will not be earning an income during
the year in residence, pursuing the degree will
in effect bet the equivalent of several years’
income for someone below the executive director
level against the chances of getting a job that
pays substantially more, and then keeping it,
in a field notorious for rapid executive turnover.
[Info: Tufts School of Veterinary
Medicine, 200 Westboro Road, North Grafton, MA
The Tufts Center for Animals and Public
Policy and the M.S. program were both begun by
Andrew Rowan, now senior vice president and
chief of staff for the Humane Society of the
U.S., and chief executive of Humane University,
the umbrella for a fast-expanding set of training
On September 17, 2004 Humane University
publicist Valerie Sheppard announced a 33-credit
hour Master of Arts degree program in Humane
Education & Character Development, “for
certified teachers and humane educators.” The
M.A. is to be earned entirely through online
course work, and is accredited by Webster
Humane University will also be offering
an 18-credit graduate certificate in
organizational leadership for animal advocates,
to be earned online via the Duquesne University
School of Leadership and Professional
Advancement, beginning in January 2005.
In addition, Humane University in
January 2005 will begin offering an online
undergraduate degree in humane leadership.
Course work will cover “Animals and Interpersonal
Violence, Animal Health & Behavior in the
Sheltering Environment, Studies in Humane
Education, Animal Protection as a Society
Movement, Health & Safety Management in the
Sheltering Environment, and Current Topics in
Animal Sheltering,” according to the prospectus,
as well as four classes in nonprofit management.
[Info: <www.HumaneSocietyU.org>.] Other programs under the Humane
University banner include a variety of one-day
and multi-day regional workshops for animal
shelter personnel, plus six specialized online
courses. These are similar to the seminars
presented by HSUS personnel at national and
regional conferences for decades before Humane
University was formed.
Incorporated into Humane University as
well are the National Cruelty Investigations
Schools, begun in 1990 by HSUS and the
University of Missouri Law Enforcement Training
“The National Cruelty Investigations
Schools were designed for animal cruelty
investigators at the federal, state, and local
levels, animal control officers, police
officers and sheriff’s deputies, humane society
board members, and other individuals interested
in learning a systematic approach to animal
cruelty investigations,” says the NCIS web site.
Second and third levels of classes for
more advanced students were added to the program
in 1993 and 1996, respectively.
Representatives of more than 1,000
organizations have participated, NCIS claims,
indicating that about 20% of the humane
investigators in the U.S. may have some NCIS
training. Because each session is five days in
length, attendees lose only one week of work.
[Info: Law Enforcement Training
Institute, University of Missouri, 321 Hearnes
Center, Columbia, MO 65211; 573-882-6021; fax
There is at least one strong
international contender in online education for
animal welfare professionals. University of
Cambridge post-doctoral student Anabela Pinto in
February 2004 began directing an independent
online course in animal welfare while
volunteering at the university’s Animal Welfare
“The university wasn’t keen to support
me,” Pinto told ANIMAL PEOPLE, so with a grant
from the Universities Federation from Animal
Welfare to buy the necessary software plus much
help from her husband, she founded the Cambridge
E-Learning Centre to host the course.
Pinto describes her offering as “a
postgraduate course for professionals with a
degree in any science involving the use of
animals. It is also aimed at those professionals
already working with animals who do not yet have
a degree. This course complies with the
requirements for the Certificate in Animal
Welfare Science, Ethics & Law awarded by the
Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Postgraduate
Education,” Pinto stipulates.
The eleven weeks of instruction begin
with a general introduction to animal welfare,
proceeding to such topics as “The Biology of
Stress,” “Behavior and Animal Welfare,” with a
week each spent on normal and abnormal activity,
a week each on farm animals, wildlife, lab
animals, and companion animals, and a
concluding week exploring “Animals, ethics, and
The Pinto program is endorsed by the
World Society for the Protection of Animals and
Compassion In World Farming.
As training programs offering academic
credentials and credit proliferate, one might
suppose that the weekend seminars and week-long
training conferences that have historically
shared most of the corpus of animal welfare and
advocacy knowhow might diminish in importance.
Actually, the opposite seems to be occurring.
While the paid workforce in animal care
and control and animal advocacy approximately
doubled from 1980 to 1990, and has doubled again
since then, volunteer participation has
increased at least as rapidly.
The volunteer-oriented Best Friends
regional “No More Homeless Pets” conferences,
held twice a year, are often bigger now than the
national American Humane Association and National
Animal Control Association conferences were in
the early 1990s.
Until the early 1990s only HSUS presented
a year-round series of regional and local
training workshops. Then Alley Cat Allies and
the United Animal Nations disaster relief
training program separately showed that small
groups with specialized missions could build
nationally visible programs by holding frequent
local and regional workshops too.
Now many specialized organizations are doing it.
Some, like the National Institute for
Animal Advocacy founded by Julie Lewin [see
contact info on page 5], hold workshops in
partnership with local groups that invite them
and help make the arrangements.
Others, like the International Institute
for Humane Education, announce an ambitious
traveling schedule and trust that if their
instructors show up, an audience will be there.
IIHE coordinator/trainer Kathy Kandziolka on
September 17 sent ANIMAL PEOPLE a list of 12
weekend “Sowing Seeds” seminars for would-be
humane educators, to be held during the next 12
months in West Palm Beach, Chicago, San Diego,
Seattle, Boston, Washington D.C., Orangeville
(Ontario), Albuquerque, Cincinnati, Corvallis
(Oregon), Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
[Info: <firstname.lastname@example.org>.] If each seminar attracts 20 people, that
one traveling program may train more humane
educators, offering more instructional hours,
than all of the training opportunities combined
that were available to humane educators circa