Behavior Specialist, Adoptions

Please make sure to attach your resume to complete your application.


A role as a Behavior Specialist at the ASPCA Adoption Center will provide the right person an opportunity to play a primary role in providing safe, high-quality, and scientifically based behavioral support for dogs and cats, including their behavioral management from intake through outcome according to the procedures outlined by the ASPCA’s Behavioral Sciences Team (BST).  

This position is responsible for contributing to the overall behavioral health of a population of cats and dogs, both in shelter and in foster, with varied needs from a variety of intake sources. The Behavior Specialist (the Specialist) contributes to the behavioral health of the population by assessing behavioral needs, providing and supporting behavior modification, and managing enrichment to improve quality of life, decrease stress, and increase adoptability. As a behavior subject matter expert (SME), the Specialist will oversee and coach others in implementing holistic care plans. This role includes training, coaching and regular communication with direct care staff, volunteers, fosters, and adopters. The Specialist is also responsible for daily hands-on care and behavior work with the most compromised animals, monitoring and tracking behavior related data to support effective pathway planning.  

You’ll be part of a high-performing team working in a fast-paced, dynamic environment providing care for +/- 3,000 at-risk pets per year in a role that champions and works with cats and dogs equally and enthusiastically. 

The Adoption Center provides shelter and adoption for five groups of animals:  

  • Animal victims of cruelty and neglect brought to us by the NYPD  
  • Animals brought to us through our community engagement team 
  • Underage kittens and other medically compromised stray animals    
  • Animals surrendered by their owners   
  • Animals transferred in from shelter/rescue partners 

This position is based at our 92nd St. NYC location and reports to the Senior Manager, Behavior Team. 

Schedule: 5 day/week (at least one weekend day required“


Responsibilities will include, but are not limited to:

Animal Behavior and Welfare – 50%

  • Implement and sustain behavior modification and enrichment for all populations of animals in the Adoption Center
  • Participate in and provide information to managers to support daily Medical/Behavioral/Sheltering (MBS) rounds
  • Work on the floor to conduct daily behavior modification and treatments, oversee and adjust enrichment plans, make housing adaptations as needed, answer questions, and ensure deep understanding of and compliance with Adoption Center operations
  • Utilize multiple databases to ensure that animal records are complete and up-to-date, including but not limited to treatment notes and tracking procedures, adoption recommendations, adoption consultation notes, foster consultation notes, behavior observation reports, and adoption follow –up notes.
  • Hold animals as needed and requested for medical exams/procedures using Fear Free® techniques
  • Support adoption matchmaking consults for animals identified as needing particular and/or additional behavior support in the home
  • Provide a welcoming, efficient and conversation-based approach to the adoption experience, presenting animals enthusiastically and objectively to prospective adopters, highlighting their attributes and challenges equally
  • Recommend animals who may benefit from foster care; ensure foster providers are provided clear, actionable guidance on what to observe behaviorally and are instructed on how to support behavior modification and environmental management in a home setting to aid in future placement
  • Participate in timely adoption follow up support via email, phone and in-person
  • Work closely with animals who are behaviorally and/or medically compromised; participate in euthanasia decision making
  • Deploy with the Behavioral Sciences Team (BST) at least 4 times per year for a week-long rotation
  • Assist the Community Engagement team in the field when additional behavior support and/or handling is requested
  • Be trained and prepared to respond at all times to animal related panic alarms
  • Provide a safe and compassionate environment for animals in our care, our staff, and for our clients by using low-stress handling techniques

Teaching and Coaching – 50%

  • Train and coach staff and volunteers in low-stress handling techniques and safe management of behavioral challenges
  • Create, schedule and teach direct care teams safe, low stress handling; body language; defensive handling; enrichment and recognition of stress; provide regular coaching to help staff continually improve skills
  • Train staff and volunteers in the use, purpose and delivery of a variety of daily enrichment experiences
  • Supervise and coach staff and volunteers, when appropriate, in assisting with behavior modification plans
  • Stay up-to-date on BST protocols to inform SOPs and training for staff & volunteers
  • Work alongside Behavior managers to innovate, share new ideas and build SOPs and materials to support the successful placement of behaviorally challenged dogs and cats. 
  • Assist in providing in-home training consultations to adopters and Community Engagement clients, as needed
  • Provide a welcoming environment for staff and volunteers to learn and build their skills, treating each individual as a valued member of the team

Additional Information

  • Weekly schedule includes at least one weekend day
  • Some evenings and holidays are required
  • Position will require occasional schedule flexibility to accommodate the needs of the Adoption Center


  • CPDT-KA or equivalent certification (preferred)
  • Fear Free® certified, or within 30 days of employment (required)
  • High School Diploma (required)


  •  Certified Professional Dog Trainer –Knowledge Assessed - (CPDT-KA) – Other (preferred)

Exemplifies the ASPCA’s Core Values:

  • Has Commitment and dedication to improving the lives of animals
  • Demonstrates Ownership and feels responsible for outcomes
  • Believes in Team – that we are stronger together
  • Seeks to Elevate others and reimagine what is possible
  • Focuses on Impact, specifically making change for animals


Ability to thrive in a physically demanding role handling strong, energetic and sometimes fractious animals with calmness and ease, Ability to walk, bend, lift, climb stairs and walk multiple dogs per day, Consistently maintains a positive attitude; treats both animals and people with respect, Excellent canine handling skills with an emphasis on low stress handling, feline handling skills (preferred)., Strong team player; a “people person” who enjoys collaboration, Superior problem-solving abilities; likes to troubleshoot and find solutions when facing challenges



English (Required)

Education and Work Experience:

High School Diploma (Required)


Experience designing and teaching classes preferred, Experience in an animal shelter or similar field preferred, Familiarity with adult learning principles, Low Stress Handling® University Silver-Level certification is required within six months of hire

COVID Statement:
The ASPCA strives to maintain a COVID-free workplace. To that end, being fully vaccinated is a condition of employment for all ASPCA employees, including new hires, except where prohibited by applicable state or local law. The ASPCA makes reasonable accommodations for qualified applicants with disabilities or sincerely held religious beliefs that prohibit a person from being vaccinated.

Our EEO Policy:

The ASPCA is an Equal Employment Opportunity employer.  All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, gender, gender identity or expression, age, marital or domestic partner status, citizenship status, sexual orientation, disability, genetic information, military or veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by applicable federal, state or local laws, regulations or ordinances.

Applicants with disabilities may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation under the terms of the Americans with Disabilities Act and certain state or local laws.  A reasonable accommodation is a change in the ASPCA’s standard application process, which will ensure an equal employment opportunity without imposing undue hardship on the ASPCA.  Please inform the ASPCA’s People Team if you need an accommodation in order to complete any forms or to otherwise participate in the application process.

Individuals seeking employment are considered without regards to race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, gender, gender identity or expression, age, marital or domestic partner status, citizenship status, sexual orientation, disability, genetic information, military or veteran status,  or any other characteristic protected by applicable federal, state or local laws, regulations or ordinances.

ASPCA is an Equal Opportunity Employer (M/F/D/V).

Please don’t forget to attach your resume to complete your application.

About Us:
The ASPCA was founded in 1866 on the belief that animals are entitled to kind and respectful treatment by humans and must be protected under the law. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation with more than two million supporters nationwide, the ASPCA is committed to preventing cruelty to dogs, cats, equines, and farm animals throughout the United States.

The ASPCA is headquartered in New York City, where we maintain a full-service animal hospital, spay/neuter clinic, mobile spay/neuter and primary pet care clinics, a rehabilitation center for canine victims of cruelty, kitten nursery, adoption center, and two community veterinary centers.

The ASPCA also operates programs and services that extend nationwide. We assist animals in need through on-the-ground disaster and cruelty interventions, behavioral rehabilitation, animal placement, legal and legislative advocacy, and the advancement of the sheltering and veterinary community through research, training, and resources.

At the ASPCA, we are committed to fostering a collaborative and compassionate culture and we welcome all voices to contribute to our lifesaving mission. Our staff represent a vast array of backgrounds and diversity dimensions, bringing with them valuable experiences and perspectives. They join the ASPCA to learn, grow, and continually do their best work on behalf of animals. We are inspired by our staff, partners, and the communities we support across the country who work to improve animal lives. We are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion at the ASPCA because it elevates our organizational culture, aligns with our Core Values, and enables us to move further and faster toward the ASPCA’s vision – that all animals live good lives; valued by society, protected by its laws, and free from cruelty, pain and suffering.