What is a
Certified Humane Officer?
provide for certification of individuals trained to make thorough, painstaking,
well-documented investigations to secure convictions within WI and municipal
humane statutes. They may be employees of a city, town or village; employees of
humane societies that contract with local governments to provide these
services; or self-employed contractors, whose job is to investigate whether
neglect or abuse are actually occurring. If so, they must put together a case
that the district attorney can prosecute. In cases where charges are not
warranted, they may also work with animal owners to educate them and improve
their animal care.
Officers must specifically be appointed by a local government as humane
officers in Wisconsin. Unless they are appointed, they have no
authority investigate these cases.
for Department of Agriculture, Trade, & Consumer Protection Humane Officer
certification, each individual must complete a comprehensive, 30+ hour training
program within a year of appointment, pass a DATCP certification exam, and pay
a fee. They must also complete 32 hours of continuing education every two years
to maintain their certification. For details about the Humane Officer program,
including Training and Continuing Education, please see:
DATCP Humane Officer Website or read the in-depth
Humane Officer Training & Certification section of the
Wisconsin Administrative Code.
What may a
Humane Officer do?
According to WI statute 173, a Wisconsin Humane
Officer's duties include:
ENFORCEMENT. A humane officer shall enforce [state
humane statutes] and ordinances relating to animals enacted by political
subdivisions (city, town, village, county) in which the humane officer has
INVESTIGATION. A humane officer shall investigate
alleged violations of statutes and ordinances relating to animals and, in the
course of the investigations, may execute inspection warrants.
SEEK SUBPOENAS. A humane officer may request the
district attorney for the county to obtain subpoenas to compel testimony and
obtain documents in aid of investigations.
ISSUE CITATIONS. If authorized by the appointing
political subdivision, a humane officer shall issue citations for violations of
ordinances relating to animals.
REQUEST PROSECUTIONS. A humane officer may request law
enforcement officers and district attorneys to enforce and prosecute violations
of state law and may cooperate in those prosecutions.
What may a
Humane Officer NOT do?
states that, unless also a law enforcement officer, a humane officer may NOT in
the course of his or her duties do any of the following:
Execute a search warrant.
Stop or arrest persons.
Stop, search, or detain vehicles, except under an inspection warrant.
Enter any place or vehicle by force or without the
consent of the owner, except in an emergency occasioned by fire or other
circumstance in which that entry is reasonable and is necessary to save an
animal from imminent death or a person from imminent death or injury.
Remove any animal from the custody of another person by force.
Sell or otherwise dispose of any animal that came into
the humane officers custody in the course of his or her duties.