Pet Adoption Counselor Career Profile
Pet adoption counselors are responsible for matching potential owners with appropriate shelter pets. Typical duties for pet adoption counselors include screening potential adopters, reviewing applications, filing paperwork, observing interactions between pets and potential adopters, educating owners about proper pet care, training and supervising volunteers, setting up appointments for veterinary procedures, and processing adoption fees.
Pet adoption counselors may also assist with a variety of other duties at the shelter such as processing donations, answering phones, updating records, filling out cage cards, ordering supplies, walking dogs, participating in obedience training, fundraising, giving tours, and helping with mobile adoption drives at off-site locations.
Since many adopters work 9 to 5 jobs during the week, pet adoption counselors may be required to work some nights, weekends, and holidays as the adoption schedule demands. Mobile pet adoption drives tend to require evening or weekend staffing, though these are usually held as special events.
Pet adoption counselors may find employment with animal shelters, humane societies, and nonprofit animal welfare organizations. They may arise from an entry-level position as a pet adoption counselor to a more managerial role such as pet adoption manager, facility coordinator, or animal shelter manager.
Education & Training
A college degree is not necessary to begin a career as a pet adoption counselor, though it is a plus. Experience working with animals and a passion for rescue work will usually be sufficient. Many pet adoption counselors start out as volunteers. They may also transition from working as kennel assistants, dog trainers, pet groomers, or veterinary technicians.
Since they will largely be concerned with administrative and customer service related tasks, pet adoption counselors should have experience using computer programs for record keeping and word processing. They should also be skilled communicators and be comfortable working with the general public over the phone and in person--a large part of the job is public relations.
As with most careers that involve some direct contact with animals, pet adoption counselors should take care to follow proper safety precautions when interacting with adoptable pets, and they should monitor potential adopters to make sure they follow proper safety precautions to minimize the chances of an accident.
The salary that a pet adoption counselor earns can vary based on their responsibilities, experience, and the region where the position is located. Most pet adoption counselor positions do yield smaller salaries than other animal careers, but this is one job where workers do it for the love of animal rescue and are not only focused on financial gains.
Most pet adoption counselor positions listed on Indeed.com and SimplyHired.com ranged from $8 to $12 per hour in December 2015. Counselors with experience tend to earn salaries in the $10 to $12 per hour range.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies pet adoption counselors as part of the “nonfarm animal caretaker” category. The BLS salary survey indicates that the mean income for these caretakers was $22,970 ($11.04 per hour) in May of 2014.
The number of shelters, humane societies, and animal rescue groups has increased steadily over the past decade to accommodate the rising number of unwanted or stray pets. According to statistics provided by The National Council on Pet Population, Study and Policy (NCPPSCP), the ASPCA estimates that there are approximately 5000 community shelters currently operating in the U.S. These groups take in 6 to 8 million dogs and cats each year and place about half of those adoptable animals in new homes.
The NCPPSCP statistics also indicate that about 65 percent of pet owners obtain their pets for free or at a relatively low adoption cost. The American Pet Products Association reports that there are pets in 62 percent of U.S. households, with approximately 78.2 million dogs and 86.4 million cats currently residing in these households.
It is expected that more positions will be created for pet adoption specialists each year as more shelters are built and populated.