SAN ANTONIO – Animal Care Services has the only officer training academy in the nation that offers people who enjoy animals a chance to learn how to work with them and educate the community on taking care of them properly.
Animal Care Services Cpl. Jason McCallister left an IT customer service desk job to pursue his second career and passion — caring for animals. He graduated from the ACS Officer Training Academy a year ago.
“It’s something I feel lucky to have attended. I learned so much about animals,” McCallister said.
He’s a training officer for Trinidy Guevara, a fashion student who says caring for animals has always been a part of her.
“I feel comfortable starting my career if I would have known this was going to be my career, I would have studied for it,” Guevara said.
ACS Director Shannon Sims said there has been a push to expose more people to animal handling careers to offset the worker shortage.
The city introduced an apprenticeship program to get people comfortable around animals.
“It’s a great entry for individuals who have a heart for animals but haven’t had a way to get into the industry. Everyone doesn’t want to start as a kennel attendant,” Sims said.
Apprentices graduate into cadets. They then get classroom training on city and state laws and safety.
There’s a lot of field shadowing. Sims said this job is for people with thick skin.
“We can train you all of this, but you gotta have the passion to do all that hard work,” he said.
There are field days where people interested in riding along with an ACS officer can get first-hand experience and decide if it’s the calling for them. The next cadet class starts in November.
The officer cadet class started in 2014. The job can pay anywhere between $44,000 and $55,000 annually.
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