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Overview of the role

Looking after the routine day to day care of domestic and/or wild animals.

Animal care and welfare assistant

Reference Number: ST0397

Details of standard


Animal Care and Welfare Assistant

Occupational profile:

Animal Care and Welfare Assistants look after the routine day to day husbandry and care of domestic and/or wild animals under guidance in a variety of different settings. The work is carried out individually or as part of a team in places such as kennels and catteries, laboratories, animal welfare centres, farm parks, rehabilitation centres, retail outlets and in the transportation of animals. Animal Care and Welfare Assistants must have a strong work ethic and be prepared to work irregular hours in all weather conditions. They must maintain safe working practices and taking responsibility for themselves, animals and others.

Typical job roles include:

kennel/cattery assistant; animal technician, animal welfare assistant; animal day care assistant; animal collection officer; wildlife rehabilitation assistant; zoo keeper assistant, pet retail assistant, animal handler, veterinary care assistant, farm park assistant. Individuals will need to achieve the core skills and knowledge, behaviours and one option from the following list:


Animal Interaction and Handling, Rehoming; Movement and Transportation; Operational/Reception Duties; Breeding; Zoos, Aquaria and Exotics;
Working Dog Handler; Wildlife Rehabilitation, Veterinary Care Support

Knowledge (Core)

An Animal Care and Welfare Assistant will require a comprehensive understanding of:

  • UK and EU Animal related legislation
  • current legislation, policies, procedures, guidelines, Codes of Practice and ethics relevant to the workplace and the health and welfare of animals
  • the species/breeds specific to your role and common characteristics
  • signs that indicate potential problems with animals’ health and welfare and the actions that should be taken
  • the types of basic medication, routes of administering medication, safe handling and disposal of medication
  • animal first aid, urgent, ongoing and preventive care
  • accommodation and environment requirements that are suitable and safe for animals
  • the use of different cleaning materials and equipment
  • feeding, watering and basic nutrition and characteristics of foodstuffs
  • how to safely approach/handle/restrain/move animals
  • the behaviours of the animal, applicable to the species and how it impacts its care and welfare such as stress/distress/pain/fear/frustration
  • how the animal you are working with learns and the basic principles of re-enforcement techniques
  • how an animal’s natural behaviour impacts its diet and feeding patterns
  • the different methods required to meet the animals’ need for enrichment/exercise opportunities, appropriate to species and individual animal
  • different skin and coat care requirements of animals in their care
  • basic anatomy and physiology
  • basic reproduction and obstetrics and reproductive behaviour, including neutering
  • Data Protection and records in line with legislation, codes of practice and workplace requirements
  • the importance of the human and animal bond
  • the changing needs of animals’ dependent on their life stage
  • basic awareness of capture techniques
  • hygiene, bio security procedures and infection controls when working with animals including quarantine, zoonoses, anthroponosis, isolation protocols

Skills (Core)

An Animal Care and Welfare Assistant will be able to:

  • comply with UK and EU Animal related legislation
  • work effectively in a safe and healthy working environment following current / relevant health and safety legislation and work place policies
  • identify and report potential hazards and breaches of security within animal accommodation/enclosures
  • clean and maintain animal accommodation/enclosures/environment and equipment and provide appropriate resources including species specific
    enrichment (e.g. hiding, perches and areas to dig)
  • maintain hygiene, bio security procedures and infection controls when working with animals including quarantine and isolation
  • dispose of waste in a safe and appropriate manner in line with legislative and workplace requirements
  • store, use and administer medication in line with legislative and veterinary instructions as appropriate
  • monitor, record and report the health and welfare of animals in line with animal welfare legislation and workplace policies
  • observe and be aware of the behaviour of animals and take appropriate actions
  • approach/handle/restrain/move/recapture animals as part of routine husbandry appropriate for the species and individual
  • exercise/socialise animals and provide appropriate enrichment relevant to their specific needs
  • provide appropriate care, for example coat, skin, scales, plumage and feet to ensure good health and appearance
  • provide food and water to animals and monitor the intake
  • store and care for foodstuffs
  • identify and describe animals using appropriate methods to the species involved (e.g. scanning for microchips)
  • maintain, update and reference correct records in accordance with current legislation
  • deliver customer experience (internal and external), where applicable, in line with workplace policies and procedures
  • respond to animal first aid, urgent, ongoing and preventive care requirements as appropriate


Options Skills. Will be able to: Knowledge. Will require a comprehensive
understanding of:

Interaction &

Typical job
roles include:


Animal welfare

Animal day
care assistant

Farm park

Beyond routine animal husbandry as listed in the core i.e.
for animals with specific needs, unknown or unpredictable
behaviour i.e animals recovering from routine operations
such as neutering, or who may be obese, pregnant or
fearful. Behaviour such as barking or pulling on the lead or
who react unpredictably when meeting other animals.
These animals will have a plan to follow prepared by a
more senior person. 

  • follow a prepared interaction/handling plan to prepare
    the animal and resources required i.e. muzzle, collar
    leads, harnesses, head collars, crush cage, grasper,
    snake hook, hoods
  • undertake interaction/handling activities and use
    methods such as desensitisation and socialisation in
    accordance with the interaction/handling plan
  • handle the animal throughout the interaction/handling to promote the animal’s health, normal behaviour and
    physical and emotional welfare monitor, report and record the response and welfare of
    the animal throughout interaction/handling activities
  • apply techniques which take into account the animal’s
    welfare and emotional wellbeing, such as positive
    reinforcement to interact/handle the animal
  • the preparation of animals for interaction/handling, depending on the animal, the environment and the interaction/handling activities to be undertaken
  • signs which indicate mental and physical condition of the animal in response to handling/interactions
  • the importance of accurately assessing animal behaviour and welfare before, during and after interactions/handling activities
  • the importance of positive reinforcement to the animal and how to provide it
  • the monitoring, reporting and recording processes relating to animal responses and animal welfare during interaction and handling


Typical job
roles include:

Animal welfare

Zoo keeper

  • contribute to the assessment of an animal’s readiness
    for rehoming
  • provide advice to customers/clients on the suitability of
    animals according to their circumstances and experience in line with the workplace policies and
  • support customers/clients during the rehoming/intake
    process and provide direction to further sources of
    information and guidance following rehoming of an
  • contribute to the assessment of the animal during the
    intake process
  • contribute to the matching process
  • the needs of an animal and factors to be assessed in relation to an animal’s readiness for rehoming
  • the facilities, care and attention required by different
    animals and how to explain these to customers/clients
    in relation to their circumstances and experience
  • the support appropriate and available to
    customers/clients during the rehoming/intake process
    and the sources of information and specialist advice
    following rehoming/intake of an animal
  • the animal intake processes in line with workplace
    policies and procedures

Movement and

Typical job
roles include:




  • prepare means of transport appropriate for animals,
    ensuring serviceability and cleanliness
  • prepare animals for movement and/or transportation
    taking into consideration their welfare potentially
    dealing with sick or injured animals
  • use of appropriate equipment and methods to move
    and transport animals ensuring their safety and security
  • monitor the physical and emotional health and welfare
    of animals during and after movement and
  • identify route and contingency plans
  • identify if an animal required veterinary care and take
    appropriate action
  • the legal requirements relating to the movement and
    transportation of animals
  • the different animals’ requirements, for example life
    stage, internal and external environmental factors,
    climate control and noise
  • the preparation required for the movement and/or
    transportation of animals
  • the appropriate equipment and methods to move and transport animals for example barriers, caging and
  • the monitoring of physical and emotional health and welfare of animals during and after movement and transportation


Typical job
roles include:

  • present a safe, friendly and welcoming reception for
    internal and external customers/clients/animals as
  • provide information, advice, support and guidance on a
    range of topics such as animal care and welfare to
    customers/clients and seek advice when necessary
  • use appropriate methods of technology for internal and
    external communication such as telephone, walkie
    talkies, email and scanning documents
  • prepare, receive and store deliveries of goods including
    animal related products such as food stuffs and sundry
  • prepare and display stock for sale, including stock
  • take payment for goods, services and charitable
  • process customer and animal registrations and
  • keep records for individual animals and people in line
    with the organisation’s procedures
  • the animal product and sundry items safe storage,
    display and stock rotation process
  • the extent of information, advice, support and
    guidance on a range of topics such as animal welfare
    given to customers within own responsibility
  • different methods of payment
  • customer enquiries, including complaints and
    appropriate action to take in line with organisational
  • the range of customers/clients/animals and how to
    respond appropriately to varied situations applicable to
    their job role
  • the organisation’s policies and procedures for making
    customer and animal registrations and bookings


Typical job
roles include:

Animal welfare



Zoo keeper

  • prepare animals and environment for mating
  • monitor animals during parturition, recognising signs of
  • carry out general care of animals through gestation
  • prepare and manage pregnant animals pre and post parturition
  • provide appropriate care and monitoring of neonates
  • carry out procedures for caring for the young (once weaned) and introducing them to new environments
  • socialise young animals appropriately
  • the stages of gestation
  • behavioural changes
  • the changes to the dietary/nutritional and exercise requirements throughout the reproductive cycle
  • the various stages of parturition and issues that can occur
  • social and environmental factors which will impact on development
  • socialisation periods associated to species
  • signs and symptoms of common disorders associated
    with inbreeding/ conformation/exaggerated features
    and how to prevent them

Zoos, Aquaria
and Exotics

Typical job
roles include:

Assistant zoo

Animal handler

Pet retail


  • maintain security of boundaries and enclosures in relation to legislation
  • respond appropriately to actual and/or potential
    emergency situations e.g. escaped animal
  • carry out animal monitoring activities such as annual
  • obtain information on the animal from appropriate
    sources to help determine the nature of its behaviour
  • identify normal and abnormal behaviours in animals
    and respond accordingly
  • set up enclosures/aquarium in accordance with the
    intended purpose
  • contribute to the animal conservation plan and targets
  • plan and implement interpretative activities i.e.
    educational information boards
  • captive and wild behaviour of the animal
  • the principles of ethical breeding
  • captive and natural behaviour
  • abnormal behaviours (stereotypes and imprinting)
  • awareness of conservation, rehabilitation and
  • predator/prey awareness
  • the zoo licence and recording of data
  • basic capture and release techniques of native wild
  • basic enclosure design including security, double
    doors, boundaries
  • emergency protocols e.g. animal escaping
  • awareness of social/solitary needs of animals
  • the importance of being able to accurately identify zoo,
    aquaria and exotics
  • legal and ethical implications of moving and
    transporting wild animals

Working Dog

Typical job
roles include:

Animal handler

Security dog

Services dog

Search and
rescue dog

  • fit and maintain appropriate equipment, ensuring the dog can operate safely
  • conduct refresher/maintenance training with the support of a helper and dog trainer at an appropriate frequency
  • to maintain the minimum standard of operational
    performance. interpret the dog’s behaviour and indications and react accordingly to the operational situation
  • ensure that the dog team (handler and dog) maintains
    the minimum standard of operational performance as
    determined by national standards or the employers’
    policies and procedures
  • operate the dog team within the legal and ethical
    framework associated with their employment
  • transport working dogs
  • how the dogs’ characteristics (physical and sensory) are used by the dog to deliver the operational effect
  • issues involving the dogs’ stress and emotional responses, i.e. how to gauge and read the theoretical and practical applications of the characteristics and
    how this can affect the dog’s performance in its
    specific role
  • how to maintain trained behaviour to minimum
    operational standards
  • individual dog body language and behaviour traits
  • moving and transporting working dogs


Typical job
roles include:


Zoo keeper

Farm park

  • respond to collection requests
  • identify wild animals that are suitable for rehabilitation
    and release
  • plan and undertake rehabilitation for release into the
  • capture and handle healthy and casualty wild animals
  • move and transport wild animals appropriately
  • release and monitor wild animals as appropriate
  • carry out the hand rearing of wildlife species
  • identify a range of different species (wildlife) or breeds
    (domestic) in order to understand the behavioural and
    ecological needs of the animal as well as be aware of
    the potential risks it may pose
  • the differences between treating and interacting with domestic and wildlife species
  • rehabilitation policies and procedures including the
    need to record the specific location, date and time of
    collection of wildlife
  • the principles of releasing rehabilitated animals
  • post release monitoring
  • the basic legal and ethical implications pertaining to
    wildlife rehabilitation and transport
  • knowledge of legislation and licences specific to
    wildlife rehabilitation
  • abnormal behaviours in relation to stereotypic and
  • the principles and procedures in relation to orphan
    wildlife species hand rearing legislation and methods

Care Support

Typical job
roles include:

Veterinary care

Animal welfare

support, as directed, a veterinary surgeon / veterinary nurse in a clinical environment with:

  • dealing with potential and actual emergency situations
    pre and post-operative care
  • patient monitoring for example anaesthetic monitoring
    in-patient care
  • diagnostic care/tests/X-rays – positioning and exposing
  • the dispensing and administration of medication
    end of life care for pets and providing support for the
  • common medical, behavioural and surgical care
  • the principles of care and related procedures and how
    to deal with these
  • clinical parameters of common species seen in a
    veterinary environment
  • legislation and limitations in relation to role and
    responsibilities in a clinical environment
  • legislation in relation to the dispensing and
    administering of medication
  • end of life care processes, procedures and support
  • how to deal with emotional customers/clients



Safe Working 

Maintain safe working practices, which must be adhered to at all times with constant situational awareness and adaptability to ensure safety of the animal(s), themselves and others. Have the ability to work efficiently to meet time deadlines and workplace requirements.

Work Ethic

Have a strong work ethic, a willingness to learn. Be respectful, punctual, reliable, trustworthy and diligent and prepared to work irregular hours, in all weathers. Take a pride in their work, showing commitment and loyalty, whilst conducting themselves in a professional manner.


Have responsibility for themselves, others and the animal(s) in their care, showing respect, empathy, patience and tolerance in all situations. Work with methods that reduce any risk of physical injury and emotional stress to animal(s), themselves or others. Manage your own emotional wellbeing and resilience. Accurately report any concerns, incidents and abnormalities.

Team Work

Have the ability to work both individually and as part of a diverse team as required, understanding their role and changing priorities when the situation dictates. Show respect to their fellow workers.


Respect the need for confidentiality and adhere to data protection policies. Communicate effectively with colleagues, visitors and customers/clients. Demonstrate good interpersonal and active listening skills. Know when to ask for advice or guidance.


Professional and ethical responsibilities and the values of your work place. The limits of your own authority, expertise, training, competence and experience. Industry knowledge, respect and empathy for animals. Awareness of new ideas and openness to develop skills and new ways of working. Use social media responsibly. The legal duty of care under animal health and welfare legislation and codes of practice and other relevant legislation affecting the keeping of animals



Apprentices without level 1 English and Maths will need to achieve this level and take the test for level 2 English and Maths prior to taking the end-point assessment


This standard is at Level 2


Minimum 12 months, typically 18 months


After 3 years

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Status: Retired
Level: 2
Reference: ST0397
Version: 1.0
Date updated: 19/11/2018
Approved for delivery: 8 August 2018
Route: Agriculture, environmental and animal care
Minimum duration to gateway : 12 months (this does not include EPA period)
Maximum funding: £5000
Options: Animal Interaction & Handling, Breeding, Movement & Transportation, Operational/Reception Duties, Rehoming, Veterinary Care Support, Wildlife Rehabilitation, Working Dog Handler
LARS Code: 332
EQA Provider: Ofqual
Employers involved in creating the standard: Amazing Animals, Blue Cross, Cats Protection, 1st Choice Animals Ltd, Guide Dogs for the Blind, RSPCA, Royal Army Veterinary Corps, Sequani Ltd, MRC Harwell Institute, Pet Industry Federation, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, A-Z Aminals, Dogs Trust, Greyhound Board of Great Britain, NASDU

Version log

Version Change detail Earliest start date Latest start date Latest end date
1.1 Revised standard 20/11/2018 Not set Not set
1.0 Retired 08/08/2018 19/11/2018 Not set

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