How do I Become a Kennel Assistant?
The most important part of becoming a kennel assistant — and the reason that most people are interested in this job in the first place — is having a love of animals. There is no formal training to do this job at a kennel or shelter, but most applicants have completed, or are in the process of completing, high school. Some people who are pursuing veterinary degrees choose to work in kennels or shelters to increase their experience with animals. For the most part, however, most kennel assistants are just interested in working with animals and receive most of their training on the job.
Kennel assistants may work in boarding kennels, animal shelters, or even veterinary offices. If you're interested in this job, research businesses in your area and make phone calls or visits to determine who is hiring. If any businesses are looking for a kennel assistant, they may ask you to come in and fill out an application. An interview will usually be the next step, and as with any job interview, be sure to dress professionally and be polite and respectful.
Experience caring for animals is not always necessary to become a kennel assistant. Many businesses look to hire people with some experience, however, so it is important to list anything relevant on the application; this may even include walking neighborhood dogs, for example. On a daily basis, a kennel assistant may need to give food and water to dogs and cats who are boarded, clean the cages, take the pets to a vet appointment if necessary, take the boarded dogs on regular walks, and maybe even perform some grooming tasks.
If you want to become a kennel assistant, you should be strong enough to handle large dogs and not be afraid of animals. Some kennel assistants may need to assist the kennel owner in the office, answering phones or assisting customers, so having computer skills and good customer service skills can be to your advantage. Each kennel or shelter may be different, so it is important to learn as much as possible about the business beforehand. This will make you seem knowledgeable and competent at an interview.
After the interview, the kennel owner or manager will likely let you know if you will be offered the job. The pay for a kennel assistant is generally fairly minimal; in fact, many people do this type of work on a volunteer basis. For someone who enjoys taking care of animals, however, whether the the pets are simply being boarded or are looking for a new home, it can be a very rewarding job.
I worked as a kennel assistant right out of college and it was a lot harder and sadder than I had expected. I got the job because I love dogs and I wanted to work with them, and help them.
But when I got a job in an animal shelter I was exposed all day to sad dogs in pretty desperate circumstances. Most of them were not going to get adopted and almost all of them clearly did not like being in the kennel.
Shelters are important, and the life of a dog is not always bones and fire hydrants, but after a while it really got to me. The sadness creeped in to other parts of my life. I had to leave the job just for the sake of my mental health.
There is not a lot to becoming a kennel assistant. In general, this is a maintenance and janitorial position. Expect to clean out a lot of cages, change food and water and keep things as sanitary as possible.
This is an ongoing project in any kennel. The simple fact is that keeping a pack of dogs indoors creates a lot of dirty and smelly waste. It is a dirty job being a kennel assistant, but someone has to do it.
If you want to demand a higher salary as a kennel assistant a good idea is to take some courses in animal grooming and use this is your central selling point. Good groomers can make much more money and you can offer your services to friends and family as well.
Kennel assistants with no formal training get paid on average between $7.33 an hour and $10.01 an hour. This is not very much when you consider how much work goes into keeping animals clean, fed and looked after.
Dog groomers can earn more, but work on commission. So for example, if you groom at large dog at $100, your shop make give you 50% of that figure. If you can do a few dogs a day, it is a great way to add to your hourly wage.
If you are in high school and interested in becoming a veterinarian, many animal clinics and shelters off the position of a kennel assistant in the form of an unpaid internship. This kind of work allows you to see how the business is run and gives you lots of experience working with animals.
You may also have the opportunity to interview the veterinarians at the clinic and ask any questions you have about their profession.
This job can be hard work, as animals require a lot of care and love, but for those interested, it can be a great start to a more animal orientated career.
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