Thinking About a Career in Pet Care? Things to Consider

In my business as owner of an upscale pet resort, I frequently receive resumes from people who are considering a career change from corporate life to pet care. Almost all of these inquiries come from individuals that are tired of the daily grind of office life and who love animals and want to work with them. As a mid-life career-changer myself, I understand the sentiment, but also want to take the time to make sure that people understand the realities of a pet care-related position. Following are some suggestions and questions that anyone considering this move should ponder.Get more details

First, keep in mind that not only will your job involve the opportunity to interact with animals, it will also involve a lot of cleaning and sanitation duties. Pets, particularly when they are out of their home environment and under any kind of stress, are prone to potty accidents, diarrhea and vomiting. Are you prepared to spend a good portion of your day cleaning and sanitizing enclosures and potty areas…and do you have the stomach for it?

Also, are you physically fit and able to handle any dog from a docile Maltese to an untrained Great Dane? Animal care jobs are physically demanding, and many large dogs have less than perfect leash manners. Once trained in how to handle pets, do you feel you will be able to walk a large dog or will you be flying down the aisle behind him as he runs for the door? Do you feel you will be able to respond calmly and appropriately (i.e. without reacting physically and causing harm to a pet) to an animal who jumps all over you or who never learned not to use its teeth in play? I recommend to anyone considering this type of career change that they spend some time volunteering at an animal shelter, helping to walk and clean up after pets, to make sure that they understand the physical demands of the job. (And the shelters always appreciate the help!)

Next, ask yourself if you are prepared to commit to weekend and holiday work, and odd schedules. Facilities such as pet resorts are at their busiest during weekends and holiday periods when many people travel…and will require all of their personnel to work during these times of peak demand. Shifts may begin early in the morning, or end late in the evening. Will family commitments and other obligations preclude you from working these hours?

What are your requirements as far as earnings potential? While some highly experienced and sought after dog trainers or pet facility operators may generate good salaries, most of these positions are on the lower end of the pay scale relative to large corporations. Additionally, while you may have a college degree, educational qualifications tend to be irrelevant unless you have an animal health-based background or are willing to take some additional courses. In pet care positions, particularly managerial ones, the most important qualifications are that you be able to understand any developing health-based concerns, be able to recognize and respond calmly to an emergency, be able to multi-task and be able to prepare meals, direct technicians, answer client needs and follow procedures…all at once!

That being said, caring for animals can be wonderfully rewarding and mentally therapeutic. Individually, the animals appreciate your care and attention, and a well-run facility with a trusted and trained staff offers clients great peace of mind in leaving their furry children with you.

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