Lauren is one of our Animal Care Assistants - if you've sent an email to us there's a 60% chance it will be Lauren replying! She loves the dogs, and they love her because she's always got treats in her pockets! Lauren also has a soft spot for the cats with, ahem, a bit of...attitude. Her late cat Tuco came from the centre (originally known as Captain, and renowned for his crazy antics) and she likes to try and tame the wildest ones! You'll often see Lauren in the dog yard doing some training, as she has a keen interest in dog behaviour and loves helping to find them perfect new homes.
Lauren with Eskie the Husky
What does your job involve on a daily basis?
"I care for the animals at the centre - I do everything from cleaning, feeding and exercising, to giving out medication and filling in paperwork. In the morning, before we open to the public, I clean the kennels inside and out, and give the dogs their breakfast. I also rotate them in and out of the yard and play with them, and do a quick bit of training in the morning when I can. The dog walking volunteers take some of the dogs out for us, so I get them ready with their leads and harnesses for a couple of hours out of the centre. In the afternoon I help members of public looking for a new pet to join their family and continue exercising the dogs and building up their training logs. At the end of the day they have their dinner and then we clean the kennels again so they have a nice fresh run for the night."
How did you get into the role?
"I started as a volunteer helping out with the cleaning and playing with the dogs in the yard. When I was at uni, a part-time position came up for a kennel cleaner, so I applied and got it, which was perfect as it fit around my lectures. After I finished uni, I was promoted to Animal Care Assistant, so here I am now!"
What is the best part of the job?
"It's so rewarding seeing animals going to their new homes. The transformation from sad animals arriving feeling so down and sometimes really distrustful of humans, to happy pets ready to start a new life with their adopters, is amazing. I love seeing them go to great new homes, especially when I've helped to match people with an animal they might previously have overlooked."
What is the hardest part of the job?
"It's especially tough for me when an animal arrives that we cannot help - sometimes they are too sick to turn around their health, or we simply don't have the space to squeeze even one more animal in. Obviously I want to help every animal that needs a new home, but sometimes there's nothing we can do and that's really difficult for me. There's also the fact I know I'll never have a day at work when I'm not covered in something! The animals love making a mess and it inevitably ends up all over us - it's not the most glamorous job!"
Tell us about your most memorable moment at work
"For this I would say when I took my first reserve on an animal. A lovely old Collie called Maxwell was adopted by a great family, and it was so satisfying knowing he was going to a new home because I helped. We were worried it would take a while for him to catch somebody's eye due to his age, but when I spoke to his adopters about him it was wonderful knowing I made a difference."
Who was the most memorable animal at the centre?
"I couldn't choose between two: Lucky the Akita and Jenson the Collie cross. Lucky was a beautiful male Akita, who was searching for a home for quite a while as he wasn't great around other dogs. Other than this he was great but so cheeky! I'll always remember him making life difficult in the mornings because he refused to come inside to let me clean his kennel, he just wanted to play all the time! He eventually found a home and is now very loved and doing well. Unfortunately, Jenson didn't get the happy ending we were hoping for. We tried everything to improve his health and the staff were all very attached to him, but sadly the kindest thing was to let him go as he was left with an untreated skin condition for so long that nothing worked to cure him. That was very sad, and we were all gutted saying goodbye."
Lauren's cat Tuco
And finally, have you ever adopted an animal from the RSPCA?
"I adopted a feisty little cat named Captain, who I renamed to Tuco. He was a long haired boy with a huge attitude and everybody knew him because he scratched most of the people who came to the centre! He was great, and such a character. Unfortunately he recently passed away, and I'm not quite ready to take another animal home yet. Maybe I'll look at adopting a dog next..."