Community Engagement and De-escalation for Animal Service Professionals

Community Engagement and De-escalation for Animal Service Professionals
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2023-05-25
Unit 1Presentation Materials: Community Engagement and De-escalation for Animal Service Professionals
Unit 2Transcript: Community Engagement and De-escalation for Animal Service Professionals
Unit 3Workbook: Community Engagement and De-escalation for Animal Service Professionals
Unit 4Recording: Community Engagement and De-escalation for Animal Service Professionals

Community engagement and de-escalation are essential in the animal welfare profession. By taking on a guardian mindset instead of a warrior approach, animal welfare professionals are able to build trust, improve communication, and promote positive outcomes. Taking such a stance also prevents the likelihood of re-offending by educating community members and linking them with resources to better care for their pets.

Leading the presentation is Chief Trevor Whipple. He has an extensive law enforcement career having graduated from the FBI National Academy and as a sworn officer for almost 40 years. Following his retirement from policing, he became the Law Enforcement Consultant for the Vermont League of Cities and Towns and is currently the Law Enforcement Trainer with the Humane Society of the United States.

Specifics of his discussion covered…

  • Debunking misconceptions about animal control personnel and how the field has professionalized in recent years.
  • The benefits of community-oriented policing in animal protection for humans, their pets, and the community-at-large.
  • What implicit bias is, how this may play out in the animal welfare setting, and the importance of self-awareness to overcome this.
  • Community-oriented approach ideas for animal welfare by…
    • Changing the approach to daily calls through positive public relations, adopting both a guardian and warrior role, establishing trust, and engaging from a position of humility and respect.
    • Implementing proactive community services that cater to the needs of the most disadvantaged segments of the community.
    • Avoiding overly punitive enforcement and instead focusing on helping people understand their actions, offering resources, and educating them for better outcomes and reduced recidivism.
    • Prioritizing resource management by working with the community in proactive animal welfare-related programs.
  • Guidelines when interacting with the public.
    • Considerations when navigating animal law investigations in terms of intent, biases, finding common grounds, de-escalation, and your role as an agent of the government.
    • Remembering the goal of creating long-term effective change.
    • Reflecting on the agency’s representation of the community, reputation, and community engagement.
    • The importance of and ideas on how to foster proactive community engagement.
    • Emphasizing core values that center around communication and compassion.
    • The four practices of procedural justice to observe.
    • The value of cultural competency when working with community members and the TRIP approach to fostering cultural competency.
    • Managing conflicts across cultures by seeking connections with community members.
  • De-escalation strategies that emphasize the importance of…
    • Keeping informed, entering dialogs with an open mind, asking questions, listening, and offering choices.
    • Slowing down, being compassionate, using discretion, and being mindful of your and others’ body language.
    • Reducing anxiety through time and distance, reserving judgment, not rushing decisions, working with the subject, and remembering the person’s feelings.
    • Utilizing the MOREPIES approach to being a good listener.
    • Linking individuals with appropriate resources when needed.
    • The importance of safety – for both the officer and the subject – especially when working with those with diminished capacity.

Questions from the webinar attendees are about:

  • More ideas for field personnel to engage with the community.
  • Assessing one’s own implicit bias.
  • Managing community questions on controversial programs implemented.
  • Handling situations where citizens are recording personnel interaction with the public and the animals.
  • Use of body-worn cameras for animal control officers.



Other Webinars with HSUS


Or, click here to register and view other Animal Welfare webinars and recordings on the JCH website. 


Audience Comments

  • “This class was very helpful and gave me lots of ideas.” — Ann
  • “The presenter was very knowledgeable. Vital information to perform ACO job effectively.” — Keith
  • “For officers, it is wonderful information about community engagement and how you speak to people respectfully even during enforcement times and not everybody has discretionary income.” — Susan
  • “Great topic of discussion!” — Ashley
  • “Excellent information and resources provided. Well done. Keep up your great work.” — Bruce
  • “The speaker was amazing.” — Danielle
  • “A nice, easily accessible walk-through on dealing honestly and compassionately with people in order to do the best for animals. I so appreciate bringing in intersectional aspects and cultural differences.” — Debra
  • “This topic is extremely helpful. I believe any relative topics such as this with community interaction will be a great educational asset to others.” — Damon



This webinar has been certified by the National Animal Care & Control Association and is approved for 1 Continuing Education Unit. Please refer to your NACA membership portal for current CEU submission process. Current NACA Members who attend the live presentation or watch the recording will be able to download a jointly issued attendance certificate that includes the National Animal Care & Control Association logo. Visit the NACA training page for a complete list of future trainings.



Founded in 1954, the Humane Society of the United States and its affiliates around the globe fight the big fights to end suffering for all animals. Together with millions of supporters, the HSUS takes on puppy mills, factory farms, trophy hunts, animal testing and other cruel industries, and together with its affiliates, rescues and provides direct care for over 100,000 animals every year. The HSUS works on reforming corporate policy, improving and enforcing laws and elevating public awareness on animal issues.



This webinar has been pre-approved by the Maine Animal Welfare Program for 1 Continuing Education Unit in Core Area 1 (Officer Safety) for the State of Maine’s ACO annual training. You can find more information about Certification, required annual training or submitting materials for credit at Maine’s Animal Control Officer Resource Page.




Additional Resources
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