DATCP: Once-a-year opportunity: Enroll in humane officer training

Contact: Donna Gilson 608-224-5130

MADISON – Registration is open until Sept. 10 for the annual humane officer training course offered by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. The course runs Oct. 4-8 in Madison.

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 once a year by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection’s Animal Health Division.

The course is required for anyone appointed by a local government as a humane officer in the past year. It is also recommended for police officers and deputies who investigate animal neglect or abuse cases, and open to anyone interested in being appointed a humane officer. Although it includes information about pets, it focuses primarily on livestock issues, and includes hands-on work in the University of Wisconsin-Madison barns.

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. 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,” said state humane veterinarian Dr. Yvonne Bellay. “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.”

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 Google “humane officer training.”