Mat has been working at the Abbey Street site for a very long time, so you will most likely have spoken to him at some point regarding adopting an animal! He has recently been promoted to Team Leader, which means he is responsible for helping the Animal Care Assistants and organising their tasks for the day. Mat has gained a lot of knowledge and practical skills in his time here, and is very helpful in any situation that requires an extra bit of nerve (particularly when handling feral cats!). He has a lot of love for Corgis and his dream is to own one, along with some chickens of course.
Mat with Hercules the rabbit
What does your job involve on a daily basis?
"I usually start off the day by briefing the Animal Care Assistants - we all gather to look through the diary and computer system so I can let them know what jobs they need to do (such as routine animal treatments) and what other jobs they can expect from the day (such as making time for dog meets etc), before they start cleaning. I'll help with the cleaning too if there's time around my other jobs. There are a lot of admin tasks involved with the role: I put together the list of animals that need to be neutered each week, organise the visit by our vet, book out medication when required, update animal paperwork and make sure stock records and correct. As well as this, I still get to spend time with the animals as I help Lucy to do the behavioural observations on our dogs, so we can tell what sort of home they need when they go up for adoption. I also help the Animal Care Assistants whenever I can and cover reception when the receptionists go on their breaks."
How did you get into the role?
"Initially, I was a trainee. I was studying Animal Care and was placed at the centre to develop practical skills and experience, whilst studying at the same time. I became an Animal Care Assistant and also learned how to work on reception. This year I was promoted to Animal Care Team Leader, so I work alongside Lucy (the Animal Care Manager) and Molly (another Animal Care Team Leader) to keep the animal side of the centre running smoothly."
What is the best part of the job?
"I like helping animals. Some of them come to us needing so much help and care, and I enjoy seeing them improve in time and go on to find new homes. It's great getting to come into work every day knowing I'll be working with such lovely animals and actually helping them. That's very satisfying for me."
Chillie as a young kitten with cat flu
What is the hardest part of the job?
"The hardest part obviously goes hand in hand with the best part. Obviously getting to help the animals means they've been through a tough time and that's why they need our help. It can be tough seeing ill treated animals, knowing they've suffered and it will take them time to recover. That sort of thing can really get you down - you see some shocking sights but you have to work past it and devote your time to the animals to make sure they go on to have a good life. Knowing you're helping them makes it all worthwhile."
Tell us about your most memorable moment at work
"The first time I saw an animal from a cruelty case is something I'll never forget. It was a real eye-opener, and incredibly shocking for me as I hadn't been working here long and didn't expect to see something so upsetting. She was a wonderful German Shepherd cross called Sheba, who arrived emaciated and with a horribly matted coat. She was in such a state, it was awful seeing an animal left like that - it must have been painful for her and she looked desperate. Sheba was a really sweet girl, and thankfully she was rescued in time! We spent a lot of time working with her to improve her health and show her that she could trust people. After her rehabilitation (and a lot of hard work and dedication from everybody involved) Sheba made a full recovery and was rehomed."
Chillie at a few months old, after she had been fostered and recovered from her cat flu
Who was the most memorable animal at the centre?
"Chillie was a little tabby kitten who was suffering from flu. At such a young age this can be really dangerous, and she wasn't make much improvement at the centre so I decided to take her home for a bit to foster her and get her health back up. Chillie was so cheeky! She was always playing, and she lived in my office for a while before I took her home (which caused a bit of distraction!) - her favourite toy was one on a stick with loads of feathers and shiny strips on. I absolutely loved her! Chillie had a happy few weeks at my house, and I would have loved to keep her but as she got better she began to try and play with my elderly cats. Unfortunately they didn't like this and I had to put them first, but I made sure Chillie found the best home possible."
And finally, have you ever adopted an animal from the RSPCA?
"I've adopted three hamsters and one cat from the RSPCA. One of the hamsters was from a cruelty case, and she was called Sweetie, and one was called Mr Magoo. My cat is called Amber, but at the centre she was known as Suzy. She's very fat and lazy - and ginger!"
Thank you Mat!