Kennel Assistant Job Description
Kennel assistants provide day-to-day animal care and support, typically at boarding kennels where animal owners drop their pets off for daily or long-term stays. They may also work in veterinary facilities where animals are boarded for surgery or observation. This role requires patience and compassion along with a love of animals and extensive familiarity with care protocols for dogs, cats, and other pets.
A kennel assistant’s duties can depend on the facility and vary from animal to animal, but they are generally tasked with maintaining an animal’s well-being while the owner is away by walking and feeding the animals and providing any necessary medications.
Kennel Assistant Duties and Responsibilities
While a kennel assistant’s role can vary depending on their level of experience and the type of facility in which they work, most share several core duties:
Provide Care to Pets
The primary responsibility of a kennel assistant is providing care to a variety of pets, which typically includes cats and dogs but may also include smaller or more exotic animals. This aspect of the role can involve many different elements, including checking on an animal’s physical and emotional comfort while they are in the boarding kennel, feeding animals at set times, and reporting any changes in mood or behavior.
Gather and Maintain Pet Information
A kennel assistant’s duties involve customer-facing tasks, particularly during drop-off and pickup. The kennel assistant gathers pet information related to the animal’s age, breed, feeding and exercise schedule, and any medications the pet may require. Kennel assistants will usually enter this information into the boarding kennel’s database. They may also coordinate with veterinary offices to obtain vaccination records and ask the owner questions about the animal’s temperament.
Another of the major duties of a kennel assistant is administering medications to pets. They may feed animals pills or give them injections under the supervision of a veterinarian or vet tech, maintain records of medications, and ensure that the animal is not negatively affected by their medications. In some cases, the kennel assistant may use pill pockets or other treats to give pills to animals.
Walk and Socialize Dogs
As most kennel assistants work with dogs within the boarding facility, socialization and exercise are very important. They may take dogs for individual or group walks within the facility or in a nearby area such as a park. In some facilities, group areas for dog socialization are also used to let dogs exercise and socialize. Kennel assistants ensure that dogs socializing within these shared areas don’t injure one another or play too roughly. They also conduct temperament evaluations to make suitable arrangements for exercise or socialization.
In many cases, kennel assistants also groom animals while they are boarded within the facility according to the owner’s requests. This can include trimming hair, cutting nails, bathing animals, and brushing their coats. Depending on the facility, the kennel assistant may be responsible for other aspects of pet grooming such as brushing teeth.
Clean and Maintain Facilities
Kennel assistants also ensure that facilities, including socialization areas and animal cages, are clean and well maintained. This can include cleaning and sterilizing cages between pets, sweeping and vacuuming hair in grooming and common areas, and cleaning up animal waste in the boarding facility. The kennel assistant needs to follow proper cleaning procedures to limit the spread of infection and ensure that facilities are clean, safe, and comfortable.
Kennel Assistant Skills and Qualifications
Kennel assistants provide day-to-day care for dogs, cats, and other pets that are staying in their boarding kennel. Workers in this role should have at least a high school diploma and the following skills:
- Animal care – kennel assistants should have some experience caring for animals and should be able to provide direct care and support for pets of all shapes and sizes
- Patience and compassion – this role requires a lot of patience and compassion, since pets may be frightened or aggressive in an unfamiliar environment and may need extra support throughout their stay
- Teamwork – kennel assistants tend to work with teams that can include other assistants, attendants, and veterinarians, so they should be able to successfully collaborate with these teams to provide pet care
- Customer service – many kennel assistants interact with pet owners during pet intake and pickup and should be able to answer questions and provide information while maintaining a pleasant demeanor
- Organization and attention to detail – kennel assistants should also possess a high level of attention to detail and organizational skills to ensure that pets receive medications and socialization according to schedule
- Communication skills – kennel assistants should possess good written and verbal communication skills to successfully work with other staff members and interact with pet owners
Kennel Assistant Education and Training
Kennel assistants typically have at least a high school diploma or GED. Many employers prefer to hire candidates who have completed some coursework in veterinary medicine, so individuals who wish to work as kennel assistants can expand their employment prospects by completing an associate’s degree or certification course. There are many opportunities for on-the-job training in this role, and kennel assistants can gain increased responsibilities based on exceptional job performance.
Kennel Assistant Salary and Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), animal caretakers (including kennel assistants) earn a median annual salary of $22,950. The lowest-paid 10 percent of workers in this role earn less than $17,880 per year, while the highest-paid 10 percent earn over $36,630 annually.
The BLS estimates that employment for animal caretakers will grow at a much faster-than-average rate of 22 percent through 2026, especially since pet owners are focusing more on their pets’ quality of life.
We searched the web and found a number of resources if you’d like to learn more about working as a kennel assistant:
Professional Animal Care Certification Council – kennel assistants can improve their employment prospects by undergoing certification and testing through the PACCC
Running Your Own Boarding Kennels: The Complete Guide to Kennel and Cattery Management – this book explores day-to-day management of kennels, focusing on providing excellent care to animals and building relationships with pet owners
“The Everyday Kennel Staffer and the Extraordinary Ordinary Work” – read this blog post to get a look at the life of a kennel assistant and the impact they have on the health, well-being, and happiness of animals
Boarding Kennel Management – learn the basics and best practices of running a boarding kennel with this hands-on guide that includes chapters on maintaining pet health and handling behavioral issues
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