Animal welfare has been seen as voluntary work, a post-retirement hobby or a rich person’s generosity. Neither were there many options nor were children encouraged to pursue their passion in animal welfare. The only way one could be involved in animal welfare was to do groundwork rescuing or direct care of animals. However, that practice is changing.
The animal welfare movement has grown in leaps and bounds over the past two decades. The perception of animal welfare in India has grown from an issue about rescuing street and/or pet animals to building long-term solutions for serious problems that have existed in society for a long.
The connection of animal welfare issues with issues that affect human lives and wellbeing has never been clearer and this knowledge has further helped create space for professionals from across sectors in the animal welfare movement. This space has also given rise to innovation.
There are several avenues to pursue animal welfare/protection or rights now – whether full-time or part-time, whether you are starting out or want to make a career shift. The movement needs more people and there are ample opportunities to learn and explore career options.
Here’s a list of exciting career and education options if you’re a passionate animal lover and are looking to pursue a career in the animal protection movement.
Courses & Training Programs For Animal Lovers Beyond Veterinary & Animal Science
One of the obvious career opportunities for animal lovers is pursuing a degree in animal science and work as a practicing vet in a private clinic or an animal hospital. In India, there are an array of universities offering courses in animal sciences, research, and animal husbandry including Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, College of Veterinary Science in Andhra Pradesh, The National Dairy Research Institute in Haryana, and Lala Lajpat Rai University of Veterinary & Animal Sciences in Haryana.
While, there’s a lot of scope for educational courses around animal science, we seldom hear about courses on animal welfare, advocacy, and protection. This World Animal Day, we’re looking into a bunch of educational programs and courses that put animal advocacy and welfare in the spotlight.
Master’s In Animal Protection Law
India’s first diploma course in animal protection laws just got an upgrade in 2021 with India’s first ever Master’s program (M.A.) in Animal Protection Law. The program, that’s tailor-made to meet professional needs, helps you get an get an in-depth insight on the issues of animal protection and ways to help animals using law.
University: NALSAR University, Hyderabad
Course Overview: Animal ethics, studying laws related to Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, governance & compliance, wildlife laws and other associated laws related to animal protection. It is offered in collaboration with Humane Society International/India
Duration: 2 years
Post Graduate Diploma In Animal Welfare
Offering a wider perspective, this diploma course envelopes an array of animal issues and concerns in India. The curriculum covers welfare science ethics and law pertaining to all animals including companion animals, performing animals, animals in zoos and circuses, farm animals and lab animals.
University: Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi
Course Overview: Scientific understanding of animal welfare, animal welfare evolution, animal welfare auditing, improving animal welfare through social conditions, animal ethics and sentience, welfare issues of dairy animals, zoo animals and lab animals, disasters and animal welfare.
Duration: 6 months
Master’s In Wildlife Science
This course was introduced to provide young minds and professionals with a solid foundation to study about wildlife conservation, biodiversity and research. Striking a perfect balance between theory and practical experience, this course has been curated by highly skilled biologist and conversation scientists.
University: Wildlife Institute Of India, Uttarakhand
Course Overview: Conservation policy, scientific disciplines, wildlife conservation and habitat, on-ground exposure in wetland, coastal and marine habitat.
Duration: 2 years
Ahimsa Fellowship Program
Introduced with the prime objective of creating a strong network of effective animal welfare leaders in the county, this program extends a unique opportunity to spearhead meaningful change for animals.
Program Overview: Legal and policy regime pertaining to animal protection, protocols and training for interacting with Government authorities, advanced soft skills and communication training, value-based leadership.
Duration: 9 months
Farm Animal Protection Leadership Program
First of its kind in India, this leadership program was launched in 2021 by Humane Society International/India, one of the world’s most effective animal protection organisation. Farm animal protection is an unexplored sector and is seldom seen as a long-term career option. The main aim of this program is to strengthen the animal protection movement and bring together allies for a sustainable future.
Program Overview: Nutrition and food security, public health, labour and livelihood, environment and climate change mitigation.
Duration: 5 months
Careers In Animal Welfare Movement
In the last two decades, there has been a refreshing evolution in the animal welfare field. From wildlife rehabilitation to animal advocacy and from social media strategy to fundraising – there are tons of career options that’ll enable you to climb up the professional ladder while at the same time helping save animals.
The trick here is to think deeply about your passion be it writing, marketing, policy making, managing - and make a list of organisations working for animal welfare and protection. For example, if you have a keen interest marketing, you can use this forte to elevate the campaign outreach of an animal protection organisation.
Below are a few budding and exciting career opportunities for those who want to convert their passion for animal welfare into a promising professional journey.
Wildlife Rescuer Or Rehabilitator
A budding career option in the animal welfare space, a wildlife rescuer primarily assists the government agencies in rescuing wild animals safely and humanely from conflict situations, working with communities to address conflict in the long run, build the capacity of government agencies to better handle conflict scenarios.
A wildlife rehab person would work with a wildlife vet to treat rescued wild animals and ensure they are fit to be released into the wild, tracking their survival post-release. Career opportunities for both would be with organizations that are involved with wildlife rescue and run rehab facilities. In some instances, state forest departments would also call for these individuals to work with them as a consultant to help them.
Skill Requirement: Educational background in wildlife biology would be a plus point; think practically and not emotionally, a good listener, compassion and empathy towards wildlife, and lastly brisk walker.
Public Policy Specialist
Become an animal advocate and fight for animal rights within the permits of law. As a public policy specialist in animal welfare, you’re responsible for ensuring that the policies that affect animals, are critically analysed on regular basis and suggest amendments to the existing policies and at the same time propose new policies that could strengthen animal protection.
Skill Requirement: Research and analysis ability, keen interest in law, familiarity with central and state laws, good contacts in the law and government sector, persistence and follow up, drafting scientific data and legal precedents.
Animal Disaster Risk Response And Response Manager
If you’re someone who’s not a big fan of working on a desk/behind a screen and prefer on-field adventure – you can team up with the disaster response department of an animal rescue organisation. It requires past on-field experience in rescuing cattle, wildlife, or companion animals from the disaster-hit zone. Apart from that, you’ll part take in forming and implementing disaster preparedness measures to save animals, and make policy-level changes by collaborating with government officials to enforce better disaster preparedness for animals.
Skill Requirement: Knowledge and experience in the field of Disaster Management, advocacy (to liaison with the government and external stakeholders), verbal and written communication, project management, team coordination and management, emergency coordination, research skills etc.
For any NGO or an organization working towards a social cause, donations and charity make an important contribution to its growth. And getting people to donate is a challenging job. If you’re keen on working for an animal welfare-related cause (street dog management, animal disaster response or trophy hunting), managing budget, strategizing fundraising plans excites you and your networking game is strong – this is probably a good place to start at. It’s a challenging but equally rewarding job with good demand in the non-profit market.
Skill Requirement: Excellent communications skills, top-notch networking game, problem-solving skills, and up-to-date marketing trends, and strategies.
Social Media Lead
You’re the mouth and ears of the organization in the ever-evolving digital space. With the digital space offering infinite ways to engage with animal lovers across the globe, your job entails effectively and creatively communicating animal welfare-related campaigns, managing and creation of quality content online, and in the long run use the platform to raise funds. With multiple organisations working on similar causes, there’s an increased demand in the need for dynamic social media experts to make their campaigns stand out and grab more eyeballs.
Skill Requirement: Creative writing, multi-tasking, fair understanding of social media algorithms, trends and numbers.
Project Manager Or Program Coordinator
Ideal for fresh graduates who want to pursue a career in management. In the animal welfare sector, you can expect managing long-term and short-term projects like dog shelter program, investigation for animals used in entertainment, executing an animal hospital set up in a new location, or sensitising the police force on reporting animal abuse cases.
Skill Requirement: Critical thinking, data analysis, top-notch management skills, communication skills – both written and oral, timely problem-solving ability.
Plant-Based Start-Up Entrepreneur
Thanks to the ever-evolving start-up culture in India, we’re seeing a rise in young entrepreneurs more than ever. If you’re up for massive responsibility, have a strategic and solution-oriented business plan, and want to be your own boss, here’s an option.
Identifying a problem is step one here. Once that’s done, your business model should revolve around solving that problem. In the animal welfare sector, the problem would revolve around the cruel and inhumane use of animals in our products. Through disruptive innovation, market research, and fundraising – your start-up should aim to solve this problem.
Skill Requirement: Organisational skills, strategic thinking, team leader, excellent networking skills.
If you care about animals, there will be space for you in the movement, and whether behind a desk or working directly with animals, working in this space will bring you an opportunity to bring in change to the most exploited beings on the planet while improving things for human beings too.
— Written by Alokparna Sengupta, Managing Director for Humane Society International/India.