Catherine is our Customer Care Assistant and Volunteer Coordinator. She spends most of her time in reception, but you'll often find her squealing over puppies elsewhere in the centre! Catherine looks after our volunteers and is in charge of liaising with staff and volunteers to ensure everybody is happy in their role with us. She also does regular reception duties, so there's a big chance you will have spoken to her on the phone or she will have greeted you as you arrived at the centre. Catherine loves dogs, and if she adds 'moo' to their name you know they have a special place in her heart (and you'll usually find them in her arms too)!
Catherine with Daphne the poodle
What does your job involve on a daily basis?
"My Volunteer Coordinator post is all about the lovely volunteers who help us out. I interview potential new volunteers, and find out what sort of position they are looking for, which is usually within events and animal care. I'm also in charge of recruiting new home visitors, and I liaise with them to ensure all home checks are carried out to the correct standard to ensure RSPCA animals are going to the right home for their needs. Communication is a huge part of my job, and I have to make sure the staff and volunteers are happy and everything is running smoothly each day of the week. The Facebook page for volunteers is also run by me, so I like to keep that up date when I get a chance! Some days I'll be working reception as normal, which involves answering phones, replying to emails and various admin roles."
How did you get into the role?
"I applied for a vacancy as part of the reception team and was given the job, which was great! I've worked with some lovely people here, and when the position came up for the Volunteer Coordinator, I applied and was very happy to get it. It means I get to work with a variety of people and still keep up with my original job."
Catherine's Chihuahuas Chico and Salsa
What is the best part of the job?
"I love to see the animals going to their new homes. It's so wonderful to see them looking so happy, especially when they've been through such a tough time and really stolen our hearts. It's tough seeing the long stay animals being adopted because you get so used to seeing them around, they feel like part of the team! But it's great knowing they're going to homes where they will be given the love and care they deserve - so long as I get to give them a hug before they go!"
What is the hardest part of the job?
"It's definitely difficult seeing animals arrive in a bad state - it can be really quite shocking at times. Abused and neglected animals often arrive as part of cruelty cases from RSPCA Inspectors, and it's terrible to see how badly they've been treated. That's really hard to witness regularly, but it helps knowing they are now safe and will be treated with care and dignity by the team. Plus if they need extra special care, they know I'm happy to have a dog behind reception."
Tell us about your most memorable moment at work
"A moment that really stuck with me was when we had a few dogs arrive from the same house as their owners couldn't cope. They arrived all squashed up in one cat carrier and they were pulled out one by one - it was shocking to see them all like that. Thankfully they were all rehomed and had happy endings, but it was worrying seeing so many little dogs in such a small space. Another amazing experience was hand rearing some tiny orphaned puppies. Their mum died when they were only a day old, so we all took turns bottle feeding them and I took some home for a while. I had a real soft spot for Smush the puppy and amazingly all the puppies survived and were adopted! That was really rewarding and fascinating."
Blue the crossbreed
Who was the most memorable animal at the centre?
"There have been a few who have really stood out for me, and all the staff know if I add 'moo' to their name a dog is a real favourite of mine! Max was a lovely old Spaniel, who spent a lot of time in reception as we didn't think it was fair to leave him in the kennel. I was really attached to him as he was such a friendly and outgoing boy and loved everybody he met. Smush was another favourite of mine! He was one of the group of 7 hand rear puppies and I had such a soft spot for him, it was amazing to see him grow up and go to a new home. Unfortunately, the saddest case I remember is Jenson the dog - we were all devastated when we lost him, as we tried to so hard to save him but nothing would work and he was in too much pain to survive. That was incredibly difficult for everyone involved and we all still remember him. Recently, I'd say that Daphne was the most memorable as she arrived in such a terrible state but is still so loving and friendly. Luckily she has found a new home incredibly quickly - it was a bit emotional saying goodbye but it helps knowing she'll be spoilt in her new home."
And finally, have you ever adopted an animal from the RSPCA?
"I have adopted three dogs from work so far - two Chihuahuas (Chico and Salsa) and a large crossbreed called Blue. Chico was my first dog from here, and he's an old boy who arrived with a German Shepherd (Elroy) from an RSPCA Inspector. He can be a bit grumpy but he's a sweetheart really. After this, I adopted a tiny female Chihuahua called Salsa and they get on really well together! She's younger and really playful, and a bit of a diva! Recently I adopted Blue, who is a large crossbreed - he looks like he is part German Shepherd, possibly with some American Bulldog in him. Blue is only a puppy, and he's learning every day but he's so naughty! Everybody at work laughs when I tell them about his latest escapades..."
Thank you Catherine!