Department of Agricultural Resources Completes Inaugural Training for Animal Control Officers

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources’ (MDAR) announced the completion of inaugural training program for municipal Animal Control Officers (ACOs). The free Animal Control Core Competencies training was provided by MDAR’s Massachusetts Animal Fund.
“By offering this free training to local Animal Control Officers, we can help municipalities better respond to local animal issues and emergencies,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “The training conducted by the Department of Agricultural Resources will provide for better care of Massachusetts’ animals and ensure that those charged with the oversight of animal rules and regulations in cities and towns across the Commonwealth are equipped with the skills necessary.”

​“Having worked in municipal government for many years, I know how very important the services provided by local ACOs are to our residents and to the Commonwealth’s animals,”said MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux. “I’m very pleased with this very successful initial training, and look to continue to work cooperatively with the ACOs to improve the program.”

The Animal Control Core Competencies training aims to provide equitable education to all ACOs across the Commonwealth. ACOs have important responsibilities, including dealing with dangerous dogs, responding to reports of stray animals, and enforcing licensing and vaccination laws. In addition, they often care for and adopt out sheltered animals and deal with wildlife conflicts.
“We are thrilled to have met and trained nearly 350 ACOs over the twelve weeks of the training,” said Lauren Gilfeather, coordinator of the Massachusetts Animal Fund. “This was a monumental undertaking that surpassed our expectations. The collective knowledge of the participating officers is vast, and we’re looking forward to further developing this training and a continuing education curriculum.”

The Core Competencies training comprises six foundational building blocks: Massachusetts law; emergency preparedness; animal identification; animal behavior, capture, and safe handling; communications and public relations; and records and report-writing. The courses were taught by veteran ACOs. Attendees proved proficiency in the content areas by completing a quiz on state law and a final report writing exercise.
The Massachusetts Animal Fund was created by Chapter 193 of the Acts of 2012 with a mission of ending animal homelessness in the Commonwealth. The Fund also implements the Spay/Neuter Voucher Program, which offers free sterilization surgeries to dogs and cats held in municipal animal control facilities, dogs and cats owned by low-income Massachusetts residents and feral cats.
The Massachusetts Animal Fund is funded solely by voluntary donations on Line 32f of the Massachusetts Resident Income Tax Return and through donations made through the Fund’s website.
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