Kennel Assistant Job Description
General Knowledge and Tasks
- Be reasonably familiar with dog and cat breeds and coat colors.
- Follow OSHA standards. Be able to find Material Safety Data Sheets quickly.
- Know and use basic medical abbreviations.
- Use proper medical terminology when speaking and writing.
- Be familiar with infectious diseases, including their prevention and steps to reduce or eliminate transmission. Know the most common zoonotic diseases.
- Competently speak and write the English language.
- Competently speak a second language commonly used at the hospital.
- Develop and post a personal work schedule so that others will know when you are available. In addition to scheduled hours, provide home and mobile contact phone numbers and be available as emergency circumstances demand.
- Arrive for work punctually so as to set a good example for kennel staff.
- Maintain accurate personal time cards.
- Maintain a professional appearance while at work, including clean and pressed uniforms or clothes. Change clothes daily as necessary to look professional and avoid carrying odors.
- Smile and maintain an even, friendly demeanor while on the job. Perform job tasks efficiently without rushing.
- Handle stress and pressure with poise and tact.
- Show respect for clients, team members, and animals (alive or deceased) at all times.
- Have the physical strength and ability to stand for an entire shift when needed, and be able to lift pets and objects weighing up to 50 pounds without assistance, handle repetitive up-and-down or back-and-forth motions, and work while bending. Assist in lifting patients weighing more than 50 pounds.
- Keep up with new developments in the field through journals and continuing education. Attend off-site continuing education as requested by the manager or hospital owner.
- Participate in your performance review and, as requested, in those of others.
- Handle communications with staff, doctors, clients, detail reps, and vendors with a professional demeanor.
- Maintain constant vigilance regarding open doorways that could allow pets to escape from the facility.
- Maintain strict confidentiality regarding clients and patients for whom the hospital provides veterinary services.
- Be prepared to handle any pet or facility emergency that may arise, including dog or cat fights, choking or strangulating animals, and facility fire or weather-related emergencies. Follow contingency plans.
- Follow established facility closing procedures to ensure the security of patients, boarders, and the building.
- Cordially greet incoming clients and pets, addressing each by name.
- Check on the immunization status of all arriving pets. Make recommendations to clients regarding vaccine status, and enforce preventative-care requirements in accordance with the hospitals and kennel’s policies and standards.
- Advise clients of specific call-in times to check on hospitalized patients or boarders as well as recommended services, such as the availability and cost for larger quarters for boarders, options for exercise and play time, opportunities for obedience training and grooming, and/or the provision of medical services while boarding.
- Explain special programs offered by the hospital.
- Advise clients of significant changes in policies or services since their last visit.
- Ensure that all boarding admission paperwork has been completed. (For example: boarding agreement and check-in form.)
- Assist clients with unruly or unrestrained pets. Ensure that all dogs are leashed and that cats and smaller pets are kennel. Develop and implement a plan to isolate aggressive pets in a manner and in a location that prevents harm to other boarders or staff members. Request assistance if needed.
- Take custody of pets from clients. Restrain dogs with the practice’s leashes. Label and store clients’ collars and leashes and return them to clients promptly when pets are retrieved from the facility.
- Note special care instructions given by clients, and ensure that such requests are fulfilled.
- Weigh pets and record weights at the time they are admitted and throughout their stay.
- Walk or carry pets to the appropriate wards or kennels. Apply identification bands. Settle pets comfortably in their assigned cages and runs. Provide fresh water, if permitted, and clean bedding. Mark cages and runs with pets’ cage cards. Properly label and place or store personal items left behind by owners.
- Use warning stickers and notations on cage cards and records as appropriate.
- Aid veterinarians and technicians with the evaluation of incoming animals through physical examinations. Assist in administering immunizations and parasite treatments.
- Recognize the symptoms of contagious diseases. Follow isolation procedures for contagious or potentially contagious animals. Using designated products and dilutions for disinfectants, properly disinfect your shoes, hands, and clothing before leaving isolation areas.
- Follow the hospitals procedures and state guidelines when handling suspected or potential rabies cases. Inform doctors of signs that patients are having difficulty swallowing, exhibiting leg weakness, or exhibiting other neurologic signs.
- Ensure that all kennel and cage doors are properly secured after admitting or moving pets and before leaving the facility at the end of a shift.
- On the day of discharge, gather pets’ toys, bedding, medications, and food in preparation for discharge.
- Check all pets for cleanliness prior to discharge. Clean, bathe, and/or groom pets prior to discharge as needed. Assess additional fees as directed. Discharge pets.
- Measure and record pets’ exit weights for comparison against their entry weights.
- Assist clients to their cars if needed.
Examination and Restraint Tasks
- Restrain pets in a manner that allows necessary work to be performed, minimizes stress to pets, and ensures the safety of pets and people.
- Evaluate incoming animals for obvious signs of disease, readily felt skin or body tumors, and the presence of external parasites. Bring noted problems to the attention of pet owners and staff for discussion and resolution prior to admittance.
- Know and use, when appropriate, various techniques to restrain fractious pets, including:
- muzzles, choke collars, Gentle Leader“ headcollars, body harnesses, collars, cat bags, and “rabies poles”
- blankets, towels, or nets to trap and move cats, dogs, and pocket pets
- collars and lead ropes through cage doors and chain-link fences or over tables
- use of physical restraint using your body, hands, and/or arms.
Pet-Care and Grooming Tasks
- Work with the front desk and practice manager to care for and return stray or abandoned animals to their owners, or legally find them new homes.
- Wash, dry, and store patients’ bedding and the hospitals towels. Bedding should be in good repair. Wash surgical towels separately.
- Maximize pets’ comfort with a gentle and reassuring manner. Understand that actions that would constitute animal cruelty under state or local laws or the practice’s policies will be grounds for immediate reprimand and/or termination.
- Monitor boarders for illness outbreaks and trends. Whenever possible, determine cause of illness. With input from veterinary staff, change procedures to minimize ongoing or future disease.
- Review boarding sheets to make sure they are filled out completely by kennel staff on a daily basis.
- Identify a patient’s level of pain and possible causes of pain, and understand the medications and methods used to control pain.
- When transferring boarders to new locations, provide them with clean, soft bedding and fresh water.
- When walking dogs, ensure that they are restrained and under your control at all times.
- Ensure pets’ safety and well-being at all times.
- Prepare meals according to clients’ or doctors’ instructions, and feed animals. Note the volume of food eaten or rejected on daily boarding forms.
- Withhold food and water for appropriate time periods from pets scheduled for or recovering from surgical procedures and anesthesia as directed.
- Rinse and refill water pails and dishes at least once daily. Wash and disinfect as needed during and after the completion of pets’ stays.
- Monitor pets and kennels urine, feces, vomit, and blood. When noted, clean pets and kennels or runs immediately. Note incidents on daily boarding forms. Bring signs of illnesses to the attention of staff doctors as indicated.
- Collect and save urine and fecal samples as requested.
- Continuously monitor pets under your care. Pay particular attention to signs of distress, illness, or injury.
- Know the key symptoms of emergency medical problems likely to be exhibited by boarders. Immediately notify veterinary staff members if you observe any of the following clinical signs:
- Dogs or cats that are unable to or are straining to urinate or defecate
- Dogs or cats in heat
- Dogs suffering from gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV or bloat), (i.e., bloated abdomens, unproductive vomiting, vomiting thick ropy saliva, and/or general discomfort)
- Difficult, heavy, or rapid breathing
- Sneezing, coughing, or ocular discharges
- Loss of balance
- Inability to rise
- Significant vomiting and/or diarrhea, especially bloody or foul-smelling diarrhea
- Monitor boarders’ behaviors and note potential aggressive behaviors. Use caution when handling aggressive or potentially aggressive pets. Request assistance when needed.
- Per kennel policy, administer tick and/or flea repellants or pesticides at the time boarders are admitted.
- Deflea patients with flea combs, flea sprays, spot-on topicals, baths, dips, or appropriate medication based on the health of the patient and in accordance with the kennel’s policies.
- Detick patients.
- Trim nails to the quick without causing bleeding.
- Provide medical grooming, including medicated baths, dips, nail trims, and mat removal.
- Provide cooling baths for heatstroke patients under veterinary supervision.
- Medicate and treat boarders. Properly and safely administer oral, otic, ophthalmic, and topical medications. Accurately administer insulin injections and subcutaneous fluid therapy. Record treatments on daily boarding forms or medical records. Request assistance from veterinary technicians when handling difficult pets or unfamiliar treatments.
- Inform the practice manager or doctors immediately of all bite or scratch wounds you suffer so that reports can be made and you can be referred for timely medical care by a physician, if necessary. Clean all wounds quickly and thoroughly.
- Maintain bodies of deceased pets in accordance with kennel policies.
Kennel Procedures and Maintenance Tasks
- Coordinate transfers or movement of pets with the front desk and/or veterinarians.
- Maintain accurate kennel records that include the number, type, and location of boarders, special diets and requirements, observations of boarders, and treatments or medications administered.
- Advise the front desk when requested services were not provided due to scheduling glitches or inclement weather so that front-desk staff can ensure proper billing.
- Follow procedures for cleaning and disinfecting cages and runs.
- Remove feces and place them in a separate container for disposal.
- Remove food and dirt from cages and runs.
- Clean cages with spray disinfectant and paper towels. Clean runs with disinfectant and a scrub brush or high- pressure cleaning system. Wash kennels and runs with a dilute (one part bleach to 32 parts water) bleach solution weekly and after occupation by potentially contagious animals.
- Remove and wash all bedding after use. Empty and wash water pails, bowls, and food dishes after use.
- Maintain hospital grounds.
- Ensure safe walkways during inclement weather.
- Gather garbage and place it in designated receptacles.
- Ensure the proper functioning of all equipment. Repair or replace broken lights and fixtures. Maintain and repair kennels and runs to ensure their secure closure and safety.
- Clean food bins as needed, but at least monthly. Restock food bins.
- Know all the cleaning products used, including their safe handling and proper use.
- Maintain a “lost and found” bin for items left behind by pets’ owners. Tag and date each item. Discard or donate items not retrieved after three months.