Few municipal jobs in Connecticut vary as widely in quality and effectiveness from town to town as animal control officers.

Some ACO‘s are sworn police officers or work under the police department and are well equipped and trained to exercise their considerable authority, which includes the power to arrest for animal cruelty.

Others are appointed with little or no qualifications and are barely able or willing to take a statement from a witness or do other straightforward tasks.

A new law is about to instill training, certification, and minimum standards into an increasingly important field that to this point has been hampered by a total absence of uniformity.

Under the animal control officers’ training act, recently signed into law, the state Department of Agriculture will establish a two-week certification course for new ACO’s. The officers will gain the expertise to carry out a job that is growing more complex.

For example, the legislature, recognizing the parallels between child abuse and animal abuse, passed a law last year allowing the Department of Children and Families to cross-check its files of active child-abuse cases against the addresses where animal-control officers had applied to seize abused animals.

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