Kennel Attendant Career Profile

Female volunteer with a dog in animal shelter
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Kennel attendants provide daily care to boarded dogs and assist with kennel maintenance.

Duties

Kennel attendants provide daily care for the dogs that are boarded in their kennel. They are involved with scheduling boarding appointments, cleaning cages and runs, bathing, grooming, exercising, feeding, administering medication, and monitoring the behavior of boarded dogs. They also interact with clients as they pick up and drop off their dogs.

Kennel attendants work under the direct supervision of the kennel manager, veterinarian, breeder, or other facility supervisors. In boarding kennels that operate as a part of a veterinary clinic, the kennel attendant may help handle and restrain dogs for veterinary procedures that are performed during their stay. Some kennels also may offer dog training services while dogs are being boarded, so attendants may assist with such activities under the supervision of the trainer.

Kennel attendants may be required to work irregular hours including evenings, weekends, and holidays. They also must be prepared to handle dogs that may be stressed due to their being in an unfamiliar environment. Kennel workers should always use caution when administering medication, feeding, and exercising boarded dogs to minimize the chance of an injury.

Career Options

Kennel attendants most frequently are employed by boarding kennels, but they can also find employment with veterinary clinics, doggie day care businesses, show dog breeding facilities, and animal rescue organizations.

A kennel attendant can also work their way up to a managerial role or go on to open their own boarding or pet sitting business.

Some kennels also offer boarding services for cats, rabbits, exotic birds, and a variety of other pet species, though these animals are kept in a separate area away from the dog kennel.

Education & Training

No degree or formal training is required to secure a position as a kennel attendant, and it is a popular entry level position for high school students or undergraduates looking to major in an animal related field. Many aspiring veterinary technicians, veterinarians, breeders, and groomers start out as kennel attendants.

Most successful applicants for kennel attendant positions already have prior experience working with animals as pet sitters, veterinary assistants, or dog walkers. Experience with family pets may also count towards a candidate’s prior experience. Most kennels have experienced staff that can train new employees to complete the required daily duties.

Salary

Most kennel attendant positions are considered entry level roles, and as such, they tend to pay less than $10 per hour (and often much closer to minimum wage). Kennel attendants with more experience or those working for larger facilities may earn higher wages. Those with expanded responsibilities (such as assisting with training) may also earn higher wages due to their extra duties.

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not have a separate category for kennel attendant salary data, it does include kennel attendants under the more general category of animal care and service workers.

The most recent BLS salary survey indicates that the lowest 10 percent of all animal care and service workers earn $15,140 per year, while the top 10 percent of all animal care and service workers earn more than $31,590 per year.

Career Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) survey of 2011 projected that employment opportunities for the category of all animal care and service workers will increase by 21 percent from 2008 to 2018. This rate is significantly more than the average rate of growth for all careers.

The 2013 survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) found that grooming and boarding services in the United States accounted for $4.41 billion in spending, up over 7 percent from the year before. The population of pets kept in American households also continued to increase.

There should be many opportunities for kennel attendants as more facilities will be opened to accommodate the growing pet population. Kennel positions also have a higher turnover rate than many other animal related careers, which should also translate to more opportunities for those hoping to enter the field.