The deadline is Friday, Sept. 18, for Wisconsin's once-a-year training for humane officers or those who would like to be humane officers.
Humane officers investigate cases of animal abuse and neglect, and they must be trained and certified. There is still space available in the 40-hour humane officer training course offered annually by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection's Animal Health Division. The course runs Oct. 19-23 in Madison.
The course is required for anyone appointed as a humane officer in the past year who has not previously completed the training. It is also recommended for law enforcement personnel who investigate animal neglect or abuse cases, and open to anyone interested in being appointed a humane officer by a local government.
Cost is $500. Those who complete the training and pass an examination will be eligible for certification as humane officers.
Humane officers work for local or county governments, investigating cases of animal abuse and neglect in both livestock and companion animals, gathering evidence that district attorneys use to build court cases. In some cases, they may educate animal owners rather than investigating them. Humane officers may be public employees, employees of humane agencies that contract with local governments, or independent contractors. They may also be law officers, although police and deputies can investigate animal cases without this training.
"We get calls all the time from people who want us – the state – to investigate cases of animal abuse and neglect, and they're always surprised to learn that we can't do it," says said state humane officer Dr. Yvonne Bellay of the Animal Health Division. "Wisconsin law puts that responsibility at the local level, and that's where humane officers work. Local governments don't have to appoint humane officers – they can rely on their police or sheriff's deputies. But if they do use humane officers, those people need to be trained and certified by us. That's our role.
"Even if they choose to rely on local law enforcement, those officers can benefit greatly from this training. Their police academy training doesn't cover when to call a veterinarian, how to collect samples for evidence from animals, or how to interpret animal law. And because animal abuse is so often tied to domestic abuse, dealing with it effectively often helps human victims, too, or prevents animal abusers from moving on to human victims."
Veterinarians, attorneys, and law enforcement officers teach the course. It covers animal husbandry, evidence collection, search and seizure rules, photography and sketching, state and constitutional law applying to animals, report writing, courtroom testimony, and other skills and information that humane officers need to put cases together for prosecutors. Both classroom training and hands-on experience are included.
For registration information, call the agriculture department's Division of Animal Health at 608-224-4889 or visit the web site at datcp.state.wi.us and search for "humane officer training."