1992, ANIMAL PEOPLE has
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Education & certification for animal welfare professionals
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 care-and-control
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 professional.
Los Angeles Animal Services general manager Guerdon
H. Stuckey (LAS photo),
superimposed in front of shelter vandalized after
his hiring (Phyllis Dougherty photo).
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
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
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 other positions.
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 degree…preferably 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
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 early retirement.
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
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
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 test
[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 1995.
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
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 planning.”
Serious planning is essential, because tuition and
living costs to attend Tufts will approximately equal
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 01536; <www.tufts.edu/vet/cfa/>.]
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 opportunities.
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.
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
“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;
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 society.”
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 Associat-ion
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
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.,
Orange-ville (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 1990.