Two dogs are being bathed by a woman in a blue apron during pet care.
Photo: Memphis Animal Services

Do it For the Fur Babies: Pet-Care Professions in Memphis

As kids, there were maybe three jobs most of us considered aspiring to: astronaut, ballerina, and veterinarian. For me, being a vet was the goal. But when I went to the vet and saw how they checked my dog for worms, I quickly ruled that career option out. 

Thirty something years later, and I’m basically doing what Childhood Me wanted to do but didn’t know existed—I work with animals, and my job is convincing people to help those animals.

Maybe you always wanted a job involving animals, too. There are so many opportunities to work with pets in Memphis…

Starting with Memphis Animal Services (MAS)!

Eddie, MAS Animal Services Officer, and Wonder Dog Raven

MAS is the municipal animal control and sheltering agency in the city of Memphis. MAS enforces animal care and control laws, helps keep pets in their loving homes, and works to achieve positive outcomes for the pets in their care.

MAS has many part-time job opportunities right now that pay $12 an hour and offer $1,000 sign-on bonuses: 

  • Animal Care Technician (eight openings)
  • Veterinary Assistant (two openings) $15/hr
  • Customer Care Specialist (one opening)
  • Remote Pet Resource Specialist (one opening)

Animal Care Technicians (ACTs) are kind of like the parents of pets while they’re at the shelter.

They feed them, clean up after them, play with them, reassure them when they’re scared, and love them. During adoption hours, ACTs are often matchmaking with potential adopters to help them decide which pet is right for them. 

There’s plenty of fun involved when your job is direct animal care, and many ACTs would say the most fun part for them is any time they get to play with or socialize the animals. 

“The dogs don’t know how they ended up here, all they know is they’re happy to see you,” said ACT Tierne Purnell. “When you get them out, it’s the best part of their day.”

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It’s hard watching favorite pets get overlooked again and again and spend another night in the shelter instead of a home. 

For Senior ACT Rachel Ghueder, “Nothing beats the feeling of a scared animal finally trusting you enough to help them find the happy ending they deserve.”

Veterinary Assistants assist the shelter veterinarians with surgery prep and recovery, medications, diagnostic samples, bandages, and more.

Photo: Christy Partee and Burrito Dog

Kari Hines is MAS’s newest Veterinary Assistant.

“What keeps me excited to come to work is that every day I learn something new and see something I haven’t seen before,” Kari said. “Keeping everyone healthy means a lot.”

Customer Care Specialists (CCS) welcome customers into the shelter and process transactions for adoptions, reclaims, fosters and rescue transfers. 

“Getting to see people find or reunite with their pet soulmate is really special,” said Alex Goodwin, CCS. “We get to see that on a daily basis.”

The customer care team are the folks who make a pet’s new family official, and they take that responsibility very seriously. 

“For me, this is a personal thing, because I’m adopting my child,” said Lanetra Kirkwood, CCS. “So my first priority is making sure these pets get into good homes.”

Photo: Customer Care Specialist Tracy & Emperor looking enthusiastic as always

For a less hands-on role helping pets, there’s a new remote position working on behalf of the MAS Pet Resource Center, which connects pet parents with resources to help them keep their pets instead of surrendering them to the shelter. 

Pet Resource Specialist Cortney Menzer loves being able to help both people and pets in her work.

“A lot of people come in and they don’t know they have any choice other than to surrender their pet,” she said. “When we help them find resources to actually keep their pet, they’re so grateful.”

For full-time positions, MAS does prefer to promote from within, but to find out about full-time jobs for external candidates, be sure to follow MAS on Facebook or Instagram, and bookmark this page to see new openings.

If municipal shelter life isn’t the right fit for you, there are many other local organizations to check out if you’re hoping to work with animals.

If you still want the thrill from helping a pet find their perfect home, check out nonprofit animal shelter Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County. They’re currently looking for an Animal Adoption Counselor.

If you’re a current pet owner, how’d you like the perks of free pet food and bring your dog to work days? Memphis-based pet supply retailer Hollywood Feed might be the perfect place for you. They have 25 positions posted in the Memphis area for Sales Associates and Warehouse Associates. They even have corporate and warehouse positions in accounting, IT, and CDL driving.

There are dozens of veterinary clinics in the Memphis area, and many are hiring. Central Animal Hospital in Midtown, for example, is seeking a full-time vet tech with at least a year of experience. Gentle Care Animal Hospital in northeast Memphis has openings for a veterinarian, vet techs, kennel assistants, and receptionists.

Maybe you’d enjoy working at one of Memphis’ doggie daycares ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  Mutt Island Dog Daycare & Grooming in the Edge District is currently looking for a dog groomer (part-time or full-time), and has occasional openings for Dog Daycare Attendants. Barks & Recreation Boarding and Daycare will soon have an opening for a part-time kennel assistant.

The local pet care industry also has plenty of opportunities for those with more of an entrepreneurial spirit. You can start your own business pet-sitting, training, or grooming if you are able to invest the time and money in the necessary professional development.

Memphis’ journey to becoming a better place for pets has been hard won, and is still ongoing. As recently as 10 years ago, your city animal shelter was euthanizing over 80 percent of the pets in its care—to the tune of nearly 12,000 pets a year. 

So what happened to get Memphis where we are today, where MAS now saves nearly 90 percent of the pets in its care and hasn’t euthanized any pets for space in over a year? 

Photo: Animal Service Officers Sutter & Issac 

One word: People. 

People who stepped up and said, “Enough,” and were willing to put in the work to help stop it.

People who, whether formally or informally, volunteered, fostered, adopted, rescued, and donated. 

People who put their hearts on the line every day to work in an animal shelter—a job that can trigger just about every emotion you can name.

“This job has good and bad, highs and lows—and the bad can be very hard to handle and process—but the good makes the job worth it,” said Animal Services Officer Grayson Sutter. “We must accept that we can’t change every bad situation. In the moments we do make a difference in an animal or person’s life, that’s when our hearts heal just enough to keep going.”

Learn how you can get involved with MAS here.

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