Animal caretakers train, feed, groom, and exercise animals. They also clean, disinfect, and repair the animals' cages. They play with the animals, provide companionship, and observe behavioural changes that could indicate illness or injury. Boarding kennels, pet stores, animal shelters, rescue leagues, veterinary hospitals and clinics, stables, laboratories, aquariums and natural aquatic habitats, and zoological parks all house animals and employ animal caretakers. Animal caretakers typically do the following:
Nonfarm animal caretakers typically work with cats and dogs in animal shelters or rescue leagues. All caretakers attend to the basic needs of animals, but more experienced ones may have more responsibilities, such as helping to vaccinate or euthanize animals under the direction of a veterinarian. Workers also may have administrative duties, such as keeping records on the animals, answering questions from the public, educating visitors about pet health, or screening people who want to adopt an animal. Some animal caretakers work as animal trainers who train animals for riding, security, performance, obedience, or assisting people with disabilities. They familiarize animals with human voices and contact, and they teach animals to respond to commands. Most animal trainers work with dogs and horses, but some work with marine mammals, such as dolphins. Trainers teach a variety of skills. Some may train dogs to guide people with disabilities; others teach animals to cooperate with veterinarians or train animals for a competition or show.
Other animal caretakers are groomers and care for the appearance and cleanliness of the animal. Some groomers are employed by kennels, veterinary clinics, or pet supply stores, where they groom mostly dogs, but some cats, too. In addition to cutting, trimming, and styling the pets' fur, groomers clip nails, clean ears, and bathe pets. Some groomers also schedule appointments, sell products to pet owners, and identify problems that may require veterinary attention.