Becoming a Kennel Technician

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A kennel technician is invalauble and perform many duties each day

Kennel Technician Restraining for Vitals

Kennel technician is the term used for an employee of an animal shelter that is responsible for the well-being of the animals. A trained kennel technician will often fulfill the role of customer service, cage cleaner, and serve as an assistant to the veterinary technician or veterinarian. Some of the tasks between the management role and the kennel technician overlap.

The kennel technician position varies in responsibility from shelter to shelter. The role of the shelter employee will vary based on state laws, amount of animals coming in and leaving, and staffing. A kennel technician will only need a high school diploma to be hired on which means that they are trained on the job for most tasks. Below is a sample of the skills that a kennel technician might be expected to know or do during the first year.

Feeding and Watering

Kennel technicians usually feed and water the animals once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Sometimes this may include giving specific amounts of food or a certain type of food to malnourished or anemic animals. Some animals may need force fed or assisted feedings such as animals who are so sick that they will not eat voluntarily. One of the most valuable skills that you could know is how to calculate the amount of food a sick animal would need and how to make it for them.

Bathing and Grooming

Animals may come into the shelter covered in fleas or mats, both of which will require grooming and bathing to make the animal presentable for adoption. You may be taught the basics of grooming and the more advanced techniques such as shaving a cat which requires patience and an attention to detail.

Adoption

Adoption is an important time for both the adopter and the animal to get to know each other. Your job is to present information to the owner such as the animal’s history, demeanor, and background. You will also be evaluating the owner in terms of being able to take care of the pet that they are wanting to adopt. Keep in mind that most animals come into the shelter with an unknown history so it is often up to you to write down all pertinent information during their stray hold.

Exercising

Dogs and cats both need exercise in accordance to the Department of Agriculture to the tune of 15 minutes once a day. This is beneficial to their mental health and physical health. I advise that each animal get 30 minutes if possible.


History Taking

History taking is done during the intake to ensure that you get a solid picture of the animal’s history, demeanor, background, breed, and so on. This information will help you to find the best home possible for every animal that is admitted to your shelter.

Cleaning Cages

Cage cleaning is one of the most important duties that you will be doing from day to day. Improper disinfection can lead to an outbreak of disease among shelter animals which would halt adoptions and increase skepticism of your shelter. Effective cleaning can decrease illness rates and fast track adoptions. Outbreaks can take months to stop which can be both expensive and time consuming.

Restocking Supplies

Shelters tend to use many syringes, vaccinations, and dewormer. Everything that is used throughout the shelter needs to be logged and reordered as it gets low in quantity.

Answers emails and Phone Calls

It is advised that a follow up call is made to adopters at the end of the first week, the end of 6th month, and the end of the year to ensure the animal is a good fit for the household. Follow-up calls for fosters and animals that were adopted while in treatment is also a good habit to get into. Phone calls that were made to the shelter to leave a message for a staff member about adoption or another question should be returned within an appropriate amount of time.

Observing and Documentation

Morning and afternoon rounds should include a full observation by looking at the animal and writing down any abnormalities that you notice. There does not have to be a physical exam… but you should write down how much they ate and drank, if there was urine and feces noticed, and so on. This is a good way to detect illnesses early as the first indicator of illness could be a simple deviation from routine habits.

Facility Maintenance and Disinfection

Facility maintenance can include sweeping, mopping, laundry, dishes, mowing the grass, cleaning windows, and so on. Facility maintenance can include anything that is done to keep the building running in an effective manner. Make sure to disinfect the walls and floor with a quality disinfectant as many animals will come in contact with them on a daily basis.


Giving Medications

Giving medications is a common skill you will learn while working at a shelter. Medications may be given for diarrhea, worms, diabetes, upper respiratory infection, heart worm disease, and so on. Routes may vary between intramuscular, subcutaneous, and oral.

Administering vaccinations

Vaccinations are given on admittance to most animals as they need to be protected against deadly diseases such as upper respiratory infection and parvovirus. Age, species, living arrangements, and immunization background will all factor into what vaccinations are given.

Euthanasia

The hardest task you will ever have to perform is euthanasia of homeless, sick, or injured animals. The amount you do and the reason why will vary tremendously on the type of shelter you are working for. No-kill shelters would do minimal euthanasia and only perform them if there is a case where the animal truly cannot be saved while kill shelters might do a great deal of them each week.

Paperwork

There is plenty of paperwork to do when you are not working with the animals. Every medication given, interaction with a client that you have done, cage movements, follow up visits and calls, and so on must be recorded. If in doubt about anything, record it or write it down. The Department of Agriculture requires all information to be documented and signed as it relates to animal care.

Inventory

Inventory should be routinely checked and items ordered in the case that there is a lack of certain items available. As previously stated, the amount of supplies like disinfectant and vaccinations that are used will vary from shelter to shelter depending on the amount of animals that you take in everyday.

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