Are you dedicated to companion animal behavior and passionate about delivering high-quality care and optimizing welfare for animals in need? Are you passionate about bringing multiple areas of animal sheltering expertise together and working with a team to optimize the overall well-being of animals? Do you thrive in a dynamic and complex environment, where colleagues work together to continually advance our field? If so, the role of Manager, Animal Behavior at the ASPCA’s Cruelty Recovery Center (CRC) might be right for you!
The CRC, located in Columbus, OH, is part of the Rehabilitation Services Group, which also includes the Behavioral Rehabilitation Center (BRC) in Weaverville, NC, and will include the Recovery and Rehabilitation Center (R&R) in Pawling, NY. All three facilities provide opportunities for animals to heal after rescue. As they engage in hands-on care, teams prioritize the elevation of our work through ongoing learning, advancing the animal welfare field through research, developing effective, efficient interventions, establishing new best practices and sharing innovations with other organizations nationwide. At the CRC, a dedicated team of sheltering, veterinary and animal behavior staff work together to serve animals rescued in ASPCA national cruelty cases and disaster responses.
This role will be based at the CRC, in Columbus, OH, and will travel to support emergency sheltering operations for victims of cruelty and neglect or natural disasters. The Manager will work under the direction of the CRC Senior Director, Animal Behavior, as part of the of the Rehabilitation Services Group.
He or she will partner with a team of sheltering, medical, forensics, legal, and behavior personnel to ensure high-quality, holistic care and optimal outcomes for all animals. The Manager will be responsible for managing shelter animals’ behavioral health, including assigning and conducting behavioral treatments and playgroups, coordinating and conducting behavior evaluations and outcome pathway planning. This role will provide mentorship, training and support for their team of four direct reports. He or she will coordinate and oversee their team’s work conducting behavioral interventions, playgroups and behavior evaluations.
The CRC team works closely with the ASPCA’s National Field Response (NFR), Forensic Science (FS), Legal Advocacy& Investigations (LAI), Behavioral Sciences (BST) and Shelter Medicine Services (SMS) teams. The CRC behavior team is responsible for behavioral support in temporary shelters set up for cruelty cases and disaster relief. This role will also assist the BST with low-stress handling during animal removals and forensic behavior evaluations.
To succeed in this role, the Manager, Animal Behavior must have a comprehensive understanding of shelter animal behavior and animal learning principles, superior animal handling skills, and excellent interpersonal skills, including experience successfully coaching and mentoring people.
Responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
CRC Behavioral Support & Data Collection (50%)
Assign training and behavior modification protocols to animals as appropriate; monitor the implementation and effectiveness of treatment interventions
Assign dogs to playgroup participation; monitor and track their behavior; conduct playgroup sessions with remedial dogs as warranted to ensure they are grouped to encourage the development of safe social skills and to minimize the likelihood of aggressive behavior
Create daily treatment plans and work closely with the two other Behavior Managers to coordinate activities of behavior teams
Conduct behavior modification sessions and collect data to keep "finger on pulse" and ensure accurate progress reporting
Conduct daily behavior rounds of all animal in the shelter and regularly participate in shelter daily rounds to ensure timely delivery of care and open communication.
Assist the Sr. Director, Animal Behavior in tracking the concern boards and behavior incidents to make sure animals are receiving the treatments required to prevent or arrest deterioration and/or improve quality of life.
Collaborate with Sr. Director, Animal Behavior, and CRC veterinarians to create psychotropic medication plans for animals as needed
Participate in Medical, Sheltering, and Behavior meetings to ensure smooth collaboration among all areas of expertise and holistic care for animals
Input new animals in the behavior database, edit and update behavior report summaries and revise behavior grades as needed; regularly confirm the accuracy of behavior grades in the CRC Salesforce database
Lead weekly treatment meetings with direct reports to discuss assigned dogs’ treatment progress and troubleshoot
Communicate behavior observations, concerns and outcome recommendations to Sr. Director, Animal Behavior, to assist with pathway planning
Conduct behavior evaluations for special populations, including but not limited to, fighting dogs, puppy mill dogs and animals from hoarding situations and disaster relief
Act as an expert handler for fearful and/or aggressive dogs (e.g., during medical exams, intake procedures, humane euthanasia)
Provide input and assistance to the Sr. Director, Animal Behavior in revising existing interventions and developing new treatment protocols
Identify potential fearful Behavioral Rehabilitation Center (BRC) program candidates and provide behavioral information as needed
Assign the production of behavior-related transfer paperwork; approve any paperwork created by the behavior team
Provide behavior support to Response Partners accepting transferred animals or delegate this task to Behavior Specialists when appropriate
Facilitate on-site introductions to receiving placement partners and foster parents
Oversee the collection and organization of footage for video library; create and identify videos for media and educational uses
Work closely with the Behavioral Sciences Team (BST) to develop processes or protocols that are unique to the specific situation or animal population
Adhere to all protocols set forth by the ASPCA, including behavior modification and training procedures, enrichment, animal handling, as well as general medical and sheltering protocols
People Management (35%)
Train and supervise a team of four behavior professionals, holding regular one-on-one meetings to share ideas and provide feedback and guidance
Consistently utilize ASPCA developmental tools and conduct yearly performance reviews of direct reports to measure progress
Maintain proactive communication with the Sr. Director, Animal Behavior on critical situations or issues
Assist the Sr. Director, Animal Behavior with the recruitment, selection, hiring and onboarding process for new CRC behavior staff
Provide hands-on animal behavior coaching for Behavior Specialists, Care & Enrichment Technicians and other CRC staff as needed
Espouse positive, people-centric management approaches that are in line with team and organizational core values
Collaborate with team leads on the CRC’s Shelter Operations and Medical teams and participate in CRC team management structures to facilitate operational alignment and to maximize support to all animals in the CRC team’s care
Emergency Shelter Support & Other Responsibilities (15%)
Deploy to support Behavioral Sciences Team’s (BST) field work, handling animals during removal and intake and conducting forensic behavior evaluations
Understand Incident Command System (ICS) and adhere to chain of command
Provide behavior support at ASPCA temporary shelters, conducting behavior treatments and playgroups and monitoring behavioral health of animals at the temporary shelter
Teach classes and give talks for public and professional audiences and do media interviews as needed
Perform other duties as assigned by the Senior Director, Animal Behavior
Exemplifies the ASPCA’s Core Values:
Has Commitment and dedication to improving the lives of animals
Demonstrates Ownership and feels responsible for outcomes
Believes in Team – that we are stronger together
Seeks to Elevate others and reimagine what is possible
Focuses on Impact, specifically making change for animals
All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, citizenship, disability or protected veteran status.
Experience & Additional Information
B.A. or B.S. required, with specialized education in animal behavior field (animal behavior/cognition, experimental psychology, zoology, animal science, etc.) M.Sc. or M.A. strongly preferred
Animal Behavior Society CAAB or ACAAB or eligibility to earn such certification within 2 years preferred. If not, CPDT-KA certification accepted.
Fear Free or Low Stress handling ™ certification within 60 days of hire; Sophia Yin’s Low Stress Handling ™ certification is strongly preferred
Disaster Sheltering and FEMA Incident Command System courses (100, 200, 700, 800) within 90 days of hire
Minimum of 5 years’ experience working as a professional animal trainer/behaviorist, handling and evaluating animals with behavior issues; experience working with dogs exhibiting extreme aggression, fear and excessive arousal is strongly preferred; experience working with cats (low-stress handling, socializing, training, resolving behavior problems) is strongly preferred
Minimum of 3 years’ experience working in animal shelters
Minimum of 3 years’ experience managing personnel, preferably in an animal-related industry
Experience coaching people on training, socializing, handling or resolving problem behavior in animals is required
Experience handling and working with cats is required. Experience with additional species, such as horses and livestock, is a plus
Must provide a valid driver’s license upon hire and pass a motor vehicle history check demonstrating a safe driving history
Available to regularly work 5 days per week, including one weekend day, and available to work a flexible schedule when needed including days, evenings, weekends, and holidays
Ability and willingness to travel up to 25% of the time as needed, sometimes on short notice (Please note, travel requirements may be modified temporarily due in part to COVID-19; this remains a requirement of the position, and we expect normal travel volume to resume as the organization resumes normal operations)
Ability to thrive in a fast-paced, potentially stressful environment; must be flexible and easily accept frequent changes to plans/protocols, Able to lift and carry up to 50 pounds, Able to occasionally work in physically challenging conditions and able to wear appropriate protective gear, including a protective mask; job responsibilities may entail exposure to chemical and biological hazards, such as feces and blood, exposure to sharp objects, working in noisy environments and working in areas with uneven, wet and slippery surfaces, Able to work standing for 8 or more hours and bend, crouch, kneel and move freely to perform responsibilities that include handling potentially dangerous animals in stressful conditions, Displays care and concern for the safety and well-being of self, animals and others, especially during stressful situations, Excellent low-stress animal handing and restraint skills., Excellent organizational and time management skills, excellent written and oral communication skills, Exceptional behavior modification and animal handling skills, Fluent in the use of MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint; familiarity with Shelter Manager or other shelter software systems and Filemaker a plus, Highly effective managerial and teaching skills, Meticulous data collection and reporting skills, Superior problem-solving abilities; likes to troubleshoot and find solutions when facing challenges, Thorough companion animal behavior and animal welfare knowledge
Education and Work Experience: