Deb is the Branch Manager here at Abbey Street Animal Rehoming Centre - this means she is the lady in charge! She is a busy woman, with many meetings with various people attached the centre to attend and a medium sized team to oversee. You might not have met Deb on a visit to the centre, as she is usually in her office, often with a rescue dog! Deb likes having dogs that need an extra bit of TLC in the office with her (and they always end up spoiled and very loyal towards her!), which gives them a nice break from the kennels.
Deb at the centre
What does your job involve on a daily basis?
"I am responsible for the animal centre and shops for the Derby branch of the RSPCA. I'm based at the rehoming centre and liaise with people from around the city as well as the shelter itself to ensure everything stays running smoothly on a daily basis. I have financial responsibility for our branch, which means I have to do a lot of calculations to keep us going! There are a lot of factors to consider and I have to make sure we always have enough money to look after the animals and keep the premises fit for their purpose. I also help our Office Manager with risk management, both at the shelter and in the charity shops. As well as this, I work with our staff and trustees to develop the branch and uphold our good reputation. It's a busy job!"
How did you get into the role?
"Originally, I began as a volunteer home visitor and then moved into voluntary admin work three days a week. This was quite a while ago and in 2009 the shelter actually fell into a really bad state - the kennels had to be closed because there simply wasn't enough money in the bank to pay to care for them. It was awful and it looked as if the centre could even close altogether. At this point, I agreed to replace the previous Branch Manager and took on the task of turning the shelter around and pulling it back from the brink of closure. It was a very stressful time, but thankfully it worked and we're still going strong today!"
Heidi the Whippet crossbreed in October 2013 (left) and February 2014 (right)
What is the best part of the job?
"As I don't work directly with the animals, I see my job in a different light to the Animal Care Assistants. I spent most of my life working in business, and then decided to use those skills to do a job that actually really means a lot to me. It's great being able to use skills that I acquired in the corporate world to make a difference to the lives of hundreds of animals, rather than doing a job that is entirely focused on money."
What is the hardest part of the job?
"Cruelty is the most obviously difficult part of the job - you do see some shocking sights working here and it can really shake you seeing what people are capable of. It can be very difficult staying calm and keeping your cool around people who have no intention of being responsible pet owners, and would rather just dump an animal without taking any responsibility for problems they've caused. Of course there are many genuine cases of people needing to rehome their pets for legitimate reasons and I can sympathise, but some people are incredibly argumentative and rude towards my staff members and that really winds me up. Ignorance can be a real problem when it comes to the way people treat members of the RSPCA."
Tell us about your most memorable moment at work
"This might not be as interesting as the animal stories that other staff members have chosen, but I remember a legacy that saved our centre. We were left over £300,000 by somebody in their will and that money saved our centre. It was incredibly generous, and I will always be thankful for that thoughtful act as it allowed us to continue to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome needy animals."
Rocky the Yorkie
Who was the most memorable animal at the centre?
"The two dogs that really stick with me are Heidi and Rocky. Heidi was a Whippet cross, who came to the centre after an RSPCA Inspector found her in a shocking state in a home, where her skin condition had been left untreated to the point that she had virtually no fur left. Her skin was sore and sagging away from her body, it was awful. Heidi spent a long time in our care whilst she recovered from her ordeal, and we were thrilled when she was well enough to be rehomed. Rocky was a tiny Yorkie, who was also rescued by an RSPCA Inspector. He was so small and nervous, but that was no surprise when we saw the state that he and his friends arrived in - one even had part of her bottom jaw missing. Rocky gradually came out of his shell, but he was still very submissive and would flinch over the smallest movement. He did his best ruining my office by piddling all over it but I loved him anyway! I was a mess when Rocky went to his new home, but he's doing very well so I'm also pleased for him - even though I miss him. When I have a dog spending time in my office for rest and relaxation I do tend to get quite attached, I like spoiling them."
And finally, have you ever adopted an animal from the RSPCA?
"I've adopted three dogs from the RSPCA. Bruno was a wonderful Collie x Labrador, who I had for a number of years and loved dearly, but he has unfortunately passed away now. Penny and Lexi are my current dogs - both from Derby RSPCA. Penny is a 15 year old Collie x Terrier x Doberman, so she's a bit of a funny mix! And Lexi is a 9 year old Terrier crossbreed. I initially took Lexi home just to be fostered, but she never came back to the centre. Funny how that happens! I got far too attached and she got on well with Penny, so she found her forever home unintentionally but I'm very glad we kept her. They have all been wonderful pets."
Thank you Deb!