As the variety of pet services continues to increase in Los Angeles, so does the need for animal care workers. By 2022, the government expects to see more than 35,000 additional service workers nationwide to have already secured employment in an animal-related occupation. This projection represents a 15 percent kick in the sum of humans that cared for non-farm animals in 2012. Although most laborers receive on-the-job training, many have pursued formal education.

(Photo Courtesy of Killina Benson)

(Photo Courtesy of Killina Benson)

Killina Benson is using her college degree to move to the forefront of this expanding field. “My bachelor’s degree in psychology, coupled with my heavy background in customer service, helped launch my skills,” said Benson, a California State University, Northridge, alumna who is an executive assistant at DogVacay, a new pet-sitting company in L.A. “Learning has been a continuous and ever-changing process for me.”

What prompted you to become an animal service worker? 

“I have been a longtime dog lover, and when the opportunity arose to work at DogVacay, I couldn’t believe my luck. It was an ideal situation, being able to combine my passion for animals while gaining experience at a tech startup.”

How adventurous was your career path?

“Early on in my career, I primarily worked with humans, but through my volunteer work with animals, I found my passion for dogs continued to grow. Finding my career at DogVacay, I was fortunate enough to establish a vocation where I could work with humans and focus on creating a unique service to help animals.”

What are you doing to further sharpen your skills?

“Working at DogVacay gives me access to leading minds in the field of animal welfare. I always have the opportunity to talk to pet owners, vet techs, trainers and many companies making progress in the pet care industry.”

What is your message to aspiring animal care workers?

“There are so many advancements in the pet care industry. It is important to educate and immerse yourself in the dog world to discover where your skill-set can be of most value. DogVacay has given me the opportunity to really see how I could contribute to and improve the quality of care for animals.”

Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning journalist. Some news articles she has authored are archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

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