Animal Control Officers – the unsung heroes of animal rescue

Animal Control Officers – the unsung heroes of animal rescue

Recognizing the lifesaving work of Animal Control Officers (ACOs) during ACO Appreciation Week.

Each year, countless individuals dedicate their time and expertise to provide much-needed support for vulnerable animals threatened by situations such as homelessness, cruelty or neglect, and natural disasters. Animal Control Officers (ACOs) play a vital role in cruelty prevention and response efforts, ultimately making communities safer places for humans and animals alike. April 11th marks the start of National Animal Control Officer Appreciation Week, and the ASPCA would like to honor these individuals by thanking them for their tireless commitment to assisting vulnerable animals each year, as well as recognize our longstanding collaboration with ACOs across the country to move our work forward.

What do Animal Control Officers do?

Animal Control Officers work hard every day to improve the lives of animals in their local communities in a variety of ways, including responding to calls of suspected animal cruelty, providing assistance during natural disasters, and rescuing stray and homeless animals. In most animal cruelty cases, ACOs are the first responders and are responsible for identifying and responding to suspected cases of cruelty or neglect, as well as consulting with external agencies, including the ASPCA, when additional support is needed. While animal control officers’ work is often integrated with law enforcement, they also play an integral role in community engagement and surrender prevention by working with pet parents, local animal shelters, and other agencies to prevent cruelty and neglect and identify solutions to keep potentially at-risk animals in their loving homes whenever possible.

ACOs and the ASPCA

The ASPCA deploys nationally to assist law enforcement, emergency management agencies, and local animal shelters to provide boots-on-the-ground support with disaster response and large-scale cruelty cases such as dogfighting, puppy mills, and animal hoarding. While the ASPCA helps provide direct care to animals in need, we also help these local agencies enhance their ability to effectively address animal welfare issues within their communities by providing grant funding, training, and subject matter expertise.

In September of 2019, the ASPCA assisted the Union County Animal Control and Sherriff’s Office with the rescue of more than 75 animals, including dogs, cats, and small equines, in Lake Butler, Florida. We partnered with Union County Animal Control who assisted with on-scene evidence collection. We also provided forensics exams, medical treatment, and behavioral enrichment for the animals. Many of the animals who were surrendered by their guardians have been successfully placed with the ASPCA’s network of placement partners and are living in new, loving homes. This work would not have been possible without local ACOs responding to and identifying suspected animal cruelty in their community and collaborating with the ASPCA to ensure these animals were given a second chance. This case of animal cruelty is a prime example of how ACOs positively impact the lives of animals in their communities through collaborative work with national animal welfare groups, but they are also doing this work independently every day.

It is because of the expertise and guidance of Animal Control Officers that the ASPCA, as well as other animal welfare organizations across the country, are able to provide critical assistance to animals in need and for that, we thank them for their continued dedication and support.


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