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Shelter Behavior Lead

Job Details

Oakland Adoption Center - Oakland, CA
$25.00 - $28.50 Hourly


The Shelter Behavior Lead is responsible for providing excellent behavioral care for the cats and dogs at our shelters as well as exceptional service to our clients. East Bay SPCA’s Behavior & Training department is a flagship shelter behavior program that works to keep animals in homes and to foster the human-animal bond by providing high-quality behavior assistance and educational resources both externally to the community and internally to shelter staff and volunteers. The Behavior and Training department is responsible for the behavioral health of the animals at East Bay SPCA and conducts behavior evaluations, enrichment programs, behavior modification, adoption and foster support, and staff and volunteer trainings.

Responsibilities include, but are not limited to: overseeing our behavior evaluation process and conducting secondary behavior evaluations for cats and dogs in our care; implementing behavior modification and training plans to increase animal adoptability; assisting in internal program development, creating and providing ongoing animal enrichment; coordinating dog play groups; providing information and counseling to adopters during and after the adoption process; training staff and volunteers in animal handling and training techniques; and training and overseeing the Behavior Animal Care Coordinator. The person in this position will spend a majority of their time working hands-on with animals enrolled in behavior programs and communicating about behavior plans with volunteers, staff, and members of the public.



  • Provide excellent behavioral care for the cats and dogs in our shelters to reduce stress, maintain behavioral health, and improve adoptability.
  • Work closely with Animal Care staff to maintain consistently high-quality evaluations, efficiently identify animals’ needs, and create pathway plans to meet those needs.
  • Create and implement training plans for animals to improve quality of life and adoptability.
  • Responsible for conducting secondary behavior evaluations with animals enrolled in behavior modification programs as well as long term animals to assess continued adoptability.
  • Provide training to staff and volunteers about animal handling, behavior evaluation and modification techniques, and other behavior tasks.
  • Provide information regarding animal adoptability and discuss euthanasia outcomes when appropriate.
  • Assist in onboarding, training, and day-to-day supervision of Behavior Animal Care Coordinator (BACC).
  • Recognize opportunities to assist BACC in their growth in the organization.
  • Communicate BACC questions and concerns to supervisors, participate in problem solving, and provide input for performance reviews.
  • Oversee and continually develop specialized behavior volunteer program including delivering trainings, continuing education, and performance feedback.
  • Coordinate with volunteers to improve handling skills, provide consistent handling for animals in our care, and implement training plans.
  • Create plans for animals going into foster care and communicate with foster volunteers to provide ongoing behavior support.
  • Coordinate and implement regular playgroups for dogs in our care.
  • Enter plans, notes and other necessary information in Trello, our online tracking and volunteer communication system.
  • Enter necessary information in Shelter Buddy, our shelter software program.
  • Maintain and update behavior evaluation processes to be in line with best practices within the industry.
  • Assist in internal behavior and training program development.
  • Track data to evaluate performance of internal behavior programs. Work closely with Manager to ensure behavior programs are meeting departmental goals.
  • Provide information and education to staff, volunteers, and the public on behavior issues based on departmental guidelines.
  • Provide client education and support as needed.
  • Provide post-adoption support for behavior cases by conducting post-adoption check in calls, helpline calls, and private training sessions for adopters.
  • Document and appropriately report on animal behavior and health concerns.
  • Provide support to other behavior department positions.
  • Occasionally performs humane euthanasia in accordance with established laws and East Bay SPCA policy; ensure timely and accurate maintenance of euthanasia records.
  • Provide support for Animal Recruitment Specialist.
  • Create and provide or oversee the delivery of daily enrichment to felines and canines in our care.
  • Participate in the daily feeding, cleaning and care of the animals when staffing calls for assistance.


  • CPDT-KA, CTC, or equivalent credentials preferred.
  • Minimum of one year working in an animal shelter, preferably in a behavior position.
  • Experience in the use of positive reinforcement methods, including appropriate use of humane training tools is required.
  • One year of supervisory experience preferred.
  • Requires well-developed interpersonal skills and the ability to work with people of varying backgrounds and cultures by adapting style and tactics to fit the audience.
  • Must be comfortable speaking with members of the public, in front of groups, over the telephone, and communicating via email.
  • Proven organizational skills and effective communication.
  • Excellent animal behavior observation skills and notetaking.
  • Ability to work well as part of a cross-functional team, as well as independently.
  • Comfortable overseeing, training, and supporting other staff members and volunteers.
  • Competent in behavior evaluations, both feline and canine.
  • Comfortable and competent in handling animals with a wide range of behaviors, including fractious or fearful animals.
  • Familiar with considerate approach and low stress handling techniques.
  • Must have California State Euthanasia Certification, or ability to obtain within six months of employment.
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office is required.
  • Pre-employment background check and drug screening required.
  • Must have a clean driver’s license and reliable transportation (position works at both our Oakland and Dublin facilities as needed).

Working Conditions

  • Work is primarily performed in an animal shelter environment with exposure to detergents, cleaning products, wet and humid environments, and seasonal outdoor conditions.
  • Must be competent handling dogs and cats of all sizes, ages, and temperaments. Requires the ability to leash, walk, and maintain control over large and extra-large dogs, which can include dogs 90 pounds and over.
  • Weekend work required; must be available to work evenings, holidays, and occasional overtime as needed.
  • Animal contact and related injuries, including bites and scratches, may occur.
  • Must be comfortable handling dogs and cats on a daily basis. Will handle sick, injured, or deceased pets.
  • Noise exposure varies and often includes uncontrolled barking and other animal vocalizations.
  • Animal waste contact, smells and visual exposure is prevalent.
  • Frequent exposure to and/or handling of industrial cleaning supplies.
  • Frequent walking, bending and stooping in kennel areas.
  • Ability to lift a minimum of 30 lbs. alone and >50 lbs. with assistance, if necessary.