Everyday Ethics for Animal Control Officers

Everyday Ethics for Animal Control Officers
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2023-07-13
Unit 1Presentation Materials: Everyday Ethics for Animal Control Officers
Unit 2Transcript: Everyday Ethics for Animal Control Officers
Unit 3Workbook: Everyday Ethics for Animal Control Officers
Unit 4Recording: Everyday Ethics for Animal Control Officers

Animal control officers are responsible for upholding the law and protecting animals. Part of their roles is the need to make difficult ethical decisions every day that balance the needs of animals, the public, and the law. This session explores the concept of ethics, ethical issues in the animal services profession, and ways to best handle these.

Leading the discussion is Harold Holmes, the Executive Assistant for The County of Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control. He previously served as the  Deputy Director for the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services and was the Chief of Police in northern California.

Specifics Harold covered in this webinar include:

  • The qualities of a profession versus a trade and the challenge animal control is struggling with to be recognized as a profession.
  • The most valuable traits that animal law enforcement must possess.
  • How mistakes, knowledge, training, experience, and ethical considerations allow us to make good decisions.
  • The elements of personal belief and rules of conduct that makeup ethics.
  • How the animal industry’s emotionally charged culture attracts passionate individuals which might also lead to abuse of authority and its consequences.
  • The shifting expectations in the animal industry that subject them to increased scrutiny which are similar to traditional law enforcement.
  • The daily pressures that come with decision-making involving politics, competing interests, public pressure, and the general desire to protect animals.
  • How ethical failure can occur due to subtle deviations, insufficient training, lack of guidance, and limited oversight.
  • Examples of ethical issues that animal services agencies may encounter as it relates to lying, helping, conflict of interest, and judging who should have pets or not.
  • Ethical issues that may arise due to biases, abuse of power, and lack of professionalism during investigations, relinquishment of animals, caring for seized animals, and administrative hearings.
  • Case examples were provided throughout the webinar to demonstrate where ethical issues may creep into the profession.
  • Guidance on what to do when one’s ethics conflict with the responsibilities in the job.
  • Factors to take into account as it relates to an agency’s ethics.

Questions from the webinar attendees are about:

  • Dealing with colleagues who are behaving unethically.
  • What is considered absolute proof of ownership and how to establish ownership.
  • Systemic response to hold everyone to a certain ethical standard.


Other Webinars with this Presenter:


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



Resources and Handouts


Audience Comments

  • “It was well done and informative.” — Cara
  • “Very knowledgeable about the law and legal process.” — Hilary
  • “To make sure you are on solid legal ground before proceeding. Be sure not to use coercion, be factual, not intimidating.” — Jennifer
  • “This was a great presentation, even though it was geared towards the selected audience, I found it applicable across the field.” — Ross





This webinar is part of the JCH Summer School Program. From June 1-August 31, 2023, attendees will receive a certificate of attendance via email about one hour after the conclusion of a webinar.

Want to join us for other Summer School webinars? Check out our Summer School Calendar and register today!




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.





This webinar has been pre-approved by the Maine Animal Welfare Program for 1 Continuing Education Unit in Core Area 2 (Ethics) 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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