Karen works in reception as a Customer Care Assistant - you'll often see her manning the desk or speak to her if you ring us at the centre. She also fosters pregnant cats for us, providing them with a quiet and stress-free zone to give birth and bring up their kittens until they are ready to find new homes. In fact she's had so many foster cats we can't quite keep up with them! Karen is known for spoiling all the animals and she loves to feed them up! She is currently looking after Sharon the cat, and her two kittens: Flapjack and Pavlova (named after Karen's specialities, as she's a bit of a whizz in the kitchen).
Karen with Jerry the cat
What does your job involve on a daily basis?
"I help members of the public visiting the centre and also take phonecalls. These can be for a number of reasons and you do get some odd ones! I also liaise with the Animal Care Assistants to complete adoptions, and talk through adoption and reserve paperwork with people who are coming to pick up their new pet. It's not just adoptions though - I also restock the shop and help out people looking for new items for their pets from our shop, and deal with the till. Of course there's lots of paperwork to complete, with admin and filing, but it's okay!"
How did you get into the role?
"I started at the centre as a volunteer helping out on reception on busy days. When a new part time post came up I applied for it and got the job! In the past I was a Vet Nurse, but gave that up when I had children."
What is the best part of the job?
"Seeing the animals going to their new homes is a real highlight for me. It's great to see them so happy, especially as many of them have come from such shocking circumstances. It really is wonderful to know they're being given a second chance at life and you know they're going to a loving home where they'll be treated well. Obviously everything happens in reception, so I always get to say goodbye!"
Vinny the cat
What is the hardest part of the job?
"It can be very frustrating when people don't listen to us, and we often get animals abandoned in reception. This can be for genuine reasons, but if we don't have any space it's very difficult to explain to people why we cannot rehome their pet at the moment. We've been put in danger before by people abandoning their dogs in reception when we've told them we can't take them - it's quite stressful trying to reason with people, especially when they're in a difficult position and don't want to listen."
Tell us about your most memorable moment at work
"The most memorable moment has to be when my first foster cat (Aurora) gave birth at home. She did really well and all of her kittens were beautiful but so tiny! Aurora was such a great cat, so it was amazing to see her give birth and bring up her kittens, knowing she would find a perfect home after spending a long time as a stray."
Karen's first foster cat, Aurora
Who was the most memorable animal at the centre?
"This one is easy: Wonky the kitten! Aurora gave birth at my house, and we noticed that one of her kittens didn't develop as quickly as the others, so he needed a bit more help. As he got older it was obvious that he was a special little thing as he couldn't walk straight and struggled to keep up with his brothers and sisters. He just stole my heart and we decided to adopt him and name him Wonky - he still lives with us now and is very cheeky and spoilt. Wonky gets jealous of the other cats I foster, but he knows he's number one!"
And finally, have you ever adopted an animal from the RSPCA?
"So far I've only adopted Wonky, but my foster cats keep me busy enough as it is! My son also adopted a three-legged cat from the centre called Vinnie, so that kind of counts too."
Thank you Karen!