Job Description

Are you an enthusiastic individual looking for a career where you can make a difference in the lives of animals and the community? At the Fairfax County Animal Shelter, we are committed to providing the highest quality of care to the animals in our Shelter, while also working to tackle the root causes of animal homelessness in our community. We are hiring Animal Caretakers!

The Animal Caretaker position will provide you with the opportunity to help more than 4,000 animals each year. This position will be responsible for the intake, caring, feeding, and handling of Shelter animals across our two Shelter campuses.

Fairfax County Animal Shelter is the only open-access municipal Shelter located in Fairfax, Virginia, with a second Shelter location opening in Lorton this year. Our Shelter has a live release rate of over 90% and we’re very proud of our excellent volunteer and foster programs, compassionate staff, progressive sheltering policies and practices, and our wonderful animal-loving community.


Ensures that animals are provided with a safe, clean environment by being responsible for the cleaning, disinfecting, and maintenance of kennels, cages, animal holding areas, and other Shelter areas and grounds.
Receives animals from the public or Animal Protection Police and performs preventative care treatments including necessary vaccinations, tests, and general medical assessment on intake, to ensure health of the individual pet as well as herd health for the Shelter; performs basic handling assessment on intake and assigns behavior handling category for dogs using the dot system to ensure safe handling for other staff and volunteers.
Ensures all animals are properly fed and medicated and have ample water throughout the day.
Maintains and tracks veterinary prescribed feeding and medication charts.
Refers animals for both emergency and routine veterinary care and transports animals to veterinarian, when necessary.
Drives and assists with the maintenance of vehicles assigned to the Animal Shelter.
Participates in walking dogs and enrichment of all animals under the Shelter's care.
Assists in the training and supervision of volunteers and/or community service workers.
Participates in creating and carrying out behavior modification plans as needed.
Works with the Shelter certified professional dog trainers to assess dogs for play groups and other socialization.
Assists in the creation and implementation of socialization plans for challenging or shy dogs.
Assists with and performs basic Shelter behavior assessments and records observations using objective, behavioral language.
Understands and uses Fear Free Shelter techniques.
Ensures that all animal records, both electronic and hard copies, are accurate and complete.
Euthanizes animals in a humane manner as determined by the state veterinarian.
Operates and cleans the crematory when necessary.
Conducts visits with pets and potential adopters; makes recommendations on suitability based on observation and pet history.
Ensures that visits are conducted safely; interacts with members of the public using appropriate and polite language and actions.
Provides information to the public as it relates to animal care, Shelter policies, and county policies regarding animals.
May perform other related duties to meet the ongoing business needs of the organization.

This ad will be used to fill multiple full-time Animal Care Specialist I positions located in Fairfax and Lorton, VA. This position will start at the Fairfax Campus and has the flexibility to be assigned to either the Lorton Campus or Fairfax Campus. All Fairfax County Animal Shelter positions are required to work shifts and/or be transferred to any DAS facility.

Salary: The salary offer will be in the minimum to midpoint ($41,253.89 to $55,004.14) of the advertised compensation range. Promotional rules apply for current Fairfax County Government and Fairfax County Public Schools employees.

Schedule: Schedule will vary depending on staffing levels and Shelter needs as Animal Caretakers are considered essential personnel and will be required to report to work during times designated countywide as approved for unscheduled leave regardless of the emergency (i.e., weather, transportation, other disaster). Required to work early mornings, evenings, weekends, and holidays.

Note: The Department of Animal Sheltering will host a virtual Realistic Job Preview (RJP) on Thursday, May 25, from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. The RJP is an opportunity to hear an overview of the position, learn important aspects of the work and ask questions. Attendance is not required to be considered for this position. To register, send an email to with "RJP" in the subject line. Include your name and email address. Please reference “RJP 23-01583 ANIMAL CARETAKER” The registration deadline is Thursday, May 25, at 11:00 a.m.
Illustrative Duties
(The illustrative duties listed in this specification are representative of the class but are not an all-inclusive list. A complete list of position duties and unique physical requirements can be found in the position job description.)

Cleans, disinfects, and maintains all facility areas including lobby, animal holding cages, and surrounding area;

Receives animals and performs preventive care treatments on intake including vaccinations, deworming, and microchip scan;

Places pets in appropriate kennels or housing; Provides daily medical treatment for sick or injured animals;

Maintains treatment logs; updates electronic files;

Advises supervisor or veterinarian of any medical issues or concerns;

Euthanizes or assists in the euthanasia of animals; Assists in the disposal of dead animals;

Drives and maintains vehicles assigned to the Animal Shelter;

Transports Shelter animals to and from veterinarian as needed;

Feeds and waters animals twice daily or more frequently as needed; maintains and tracks veterinary prescribed feeding charts;

Observes behavior of animals under care and reports unusual behavior;

Performs behavioral assessments and summarizes observations in pet’s record;

Provides daily walks (3-5 per day), playtime and enrichment for Shelter dogs;

Provides daily enrichment for all Shelter pets; Conducts or assists with dog play groups;

Records observations in PetPoint;

Assists in the training and supervision of volunteers and/or community service workers;

Interacts with the public to inform and allay concerns about detained animals;

Conducts visits with pets and potential adopters;

Makes recommendations on suitability based on observation and pet history;

May provide information on the policies and procedures of the Animal Shelter;

Operates and maintains Shelter crematory;

Maintains Animal Shelter and grounds.

Required Knowledge Skills and Abilities
(The knowledge, skills and abilities listed in this specification are representative of the class but are not an all-inclusive list.)

Demonstrated interest in animals;

Ability to follow written and oral instructions;

Ability to follow precise instructions for dispensing medication;

Ability to handle animals in a humane manner and without personal injury;

Ability to move heavy, immobilized, or resistant animals;

Ability to lift, carry, and move up to 50 pounds;

Ability to maintain a high level of ethical standards;

Ability to demonstrate a high level of integrity and to be truthful at all times;

Ability to assist the public and communicate effectively;

Ability to read animal behavior and maintain a safe environment;

Ability to document behavior in clear language based on observable behavior;

Ability to work collaboratively with others and avoid negative interpersonal altercations;

Ability to contribute to a stress-free environment for both animals and people;

Ability to use a computer and electronic shelter management software package.

Employment Standards
Any combination of education, experience, and training equivalent to the following: (Click on the aforementioned link to learn how Fairfax County interprets equivalencies for "Any combination, experience, and training equivalent to")
Any combination of education, experience, and training equivalent to high school graduation or a G.E.D. issued by a state department of education and one year of experience working in an animal shelter, kennel, vet clinic, boarding facility, or other animal related organization with animal care and handling responsibility.


Possession of a valid motor vehicle driver's license at the time of application.
Euthanasia certification required within six months of appointment.
Fear Free Shelter certification required within three months of appointment.

This position is considered "essential personnel" and will be required to report to work during times designated countywide as approved for unscheduled leave regardless of the emergency situation (i.e., weather, transportation, other disaster).
The appointee to the position will be required to complete a criminal background check and driving record check to the satisfaction of the employer.
Must have current pre-exposure rabies vaccination

General interest in working in an animal shelter environment.
Veterinary assistant, veterinary technician, or kennel experience.
Experience working with animals in a shelter environment or vet clinic.
Knowledge of animal behavior and animal breeds.
Experience with Fear Free Shelter techniques.
Computer literate.

Must have the ability to move heavy, immobilized, or resistant animals.
Must have the ability to lift, carry, and move up to 50 pounds.
Uses hands to grasp, handle, or feel.
Must be able to bend, stand, stoop, crawl, walk, sit, talk, see, and hear.
Pre-exposure rabies vaccination is required within 3 months.
Must not have allergies to animals or animal supplies (ex: hay, peanut butter, etc.) that will impede working in an animal environment.
Must be able to maneuver safely in kennels, dog play yards, cat rooms, small animal room, off-site events, etc.
Ability to converse with volunteers, visitors, staff, and others.
Ability to operate equipment necessary to complete work tasks.
Visual acuity is required to read standard text and data on a computer monitor.
Ability to operate keyboard-driven equipment.
Ability to work a varied schedule, including early mornings, evenings, holidays, and weekends.
All duties performed with or without reasonable accommodations.

Panel interview and may include a practical exercise.

The population of Fairfax County is very diverse where 39.8% of residents speak a language other than English at home (Spanish, Asian/Pacific Islander, Indo-European, and others) and we encourage candidates bilingual in English and a foreign language to apply to this opportunity.

Fairfax County Government prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetics, political affiliation, or military status in the recruitment, selection, and hiring of its workforce.

Reasonable accommodations are available to persons with disabilities during application and/or interview processes per the Americans with Disabilities Act. Contact 703-324-4900 for assistance. TTY 703-222-7314. EEO/AA/TTY.

This is a full time job

Contact Information

Job Contact Details

Closing Date: Friday, June 9, 2023

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