I've been a part of the centre for almost 5 years now, but I only became an Animal Care Assistant in 2013. I recently also took on the role of Communications Officer so if you've sent an email to the animal team or our Facebook page you will likely have spoken to me! I'm known as the crazy cat lady amongst the staff - honestly, I've only got four cats at home! - and not much happens in the cattery without me knowing. The cats are my favourites (I do like dogs, rabbits and small animals though!) and I spend a lot of time looking into their behaviour and making new toys for them. I am also behind all of our blog posts at the moment, so I've carried out all of the staff interviews and this is my own (writing in third person was too embarrassing!).
What does your job involve on a daily basis?
"There are two very different parts of my job: the animal care side and the communications side. I spend every Wednesday focusing on communications, which involves updating the Facebook and Twitter pages, coming up with new ideas for our social media platforms, typing up blogs for the week and a lot of emails, amongst other things. The rest of the time I spend with the animals as an Animal Care Assistant. This means I start the day by cleaning out their pods (usually in the cattery) and making sure they all have clean blankets and litter trays. Then I give them any medication they need and hand out their breakfast before filling in my paperwork for the day. We also clean out the small animals and rabbits in the morning to get them ready for when we open to the public. It's important that we help the volunteers and work experience students too. In the afternoons I speak to people looking to adopt animals and carry out routine treatments including flea treatment, worm treatment, vaccinating and microchipping, as well as exercising and socialising the animals. I also keep an eye on the Facebook and Twitter page throughout the day and answer email enquiries in the evenings. The two job roles are very different but it's nice to have that contrast - it gives me a bit of change and keeps me busy!"
How did you get into the role?
"I first arrived at the centre as a work experience student from Broomfield Hall, as I was studying a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Animal Management. I absolutely loved it and from that point on they couldn't get rid of me! I did all of my work experience here and then returned as a volunteer doing animal care duties on my day off college. The staff members were always incredibly friendly and supportive, and I learned a lot from them, so when a job position opened up when I finished college, I applied and they gave me the job! I was very thankful about that. The move into communications came when our previous Communications Officer moved on, and she had trained me up to keep the website and social media platforms steady. She was great and left lots of helpful notes for me, so I carried on and the position has stayed with me ever since."
Orpheus and Bean at home
What is the best part of the job?
"As soon as I got to college I knew I wanted to work in animal welfare, so to land a job in this field straight from college was amazing for me. Animal welfare is such a meaningful and worthwhile area to work in, so just being able to work with animals in a movement that's so much bigger than myself, and working towards better treatment of animals is the best part of the job. I get to work with wonderful animals every day and that's great! Seeing them improve and go to their new homes is so rewarding and it's lovely being a part of that journey. I also enjoy the communications side of my job as it enables me to help spread our message and reach out to people in an even broader community than our immediate area. Our Facebook page has fans from over 30 different countries! That's amazing! I also think the opportunity to learn and gain new skills is great for me. We come across a lot of testing situations and there's always something new to learn, although hand rearing kittens is still probably my favourite extra job."
What is the hardest part of the job?
"There are a lot of misconceptions about the RSPCA, and many people make snap judgements on old rumours or just from lack of experience with, or knowledge about, the charity. That can be really hard to overcome, as many people simply don't want to hear when we try to tell them how we work. We are up against a lot of ignorance when it comes to pet ownership, and it can be incredibly frustrating when people refuse to take responsibility for their own actions. Seeing the awful things people are capable of doing to their pets is really hard; I don't want to say you get 'used' to abuse situations, but it definitely stops surprising you after a while. Some cases still shock me though, it can be awful seeing animals arrive in a condition that should never have be inflicted on them."
Suki the crossbreed
Tell us about your most memorable moment at work
"Finding a dog tied up to the gates at midnight was definitely memorable! Suki was such a sweet girl, and thankfully although she was nervous she let me stroke her and eventually she was happy enough to let me untie her and bring her inside. That was really sad for me, she cried and was clearly very scared! Seeing a dog abandoned like that stuck with me as she was so sweet and went on to make an amazing pet! Suki deserved far better than that. It was incredibly lucky that a dog had been rehomed during the day and we happened to have a kennel spare, otherwise that could've been a difficult situation! Many people ask us to take their pet for rehoming straight away, saying they need them rehomed today, but we simply don't have the space and these situations don't help. Suki was great though, I was so pleased for her when she found a new home."
Who was the most memorable animal at the centre?
"This is such a tough question, as we see hundreds of animals every year! Narrowing it down to one, I'd have to choose Pablo the cat. He arrived with a burst abscess, semi-feral and absolutely terrified of everyone. Poor Pablo wasn't in a great state! I remember going into his run to give him his medication, only to find him climbing up the wall - that was interesting trying to get him down and get a pill into him! He carried on like this for a while, until one day he completely changed and suddenly adored us all. It was so strange! Pablo went from a skitty cat to the friendliest boy you could ask for pretty much overnight. He was such a sweet boy - a huge black Tom cat with a big head. I almost cried when he went home but his owner is lovely!"
Two of my cats: Bean and Orpheus
And finally, have you ever adopted an animal from the RSPCA?
"I've adopted two cats, a rabbit and a gerbil from the RSPCA, and I've hand reared and fostered countless other animals too! My rabbit Gunther sadly died, but he was lovely - a brown and white lop with such a gentle personality. Colin was a gerbil with a hair lip who arrived with his brother and had half of his whiskers missing. He was lovely! I adopted my cat Orpheus as an adult from here: he had arrived with bad entropian (meaning his eyelids turned inside out and were scraping his eyeballs) and had to have an operation to fix it. He spent a few weeks with purple stitches around his eyes! Orpheus is a huge black Tom cat, weighing in at about 6kg, but he's a big baby and follows me everywhere. Lastly, Bean was also technically an RSPCA animal, although he's been with me from the very start! His mum was killed by dogs when she was pregnant and he was the only kitten to survive, so I took him home and I still have him. He spent a lot of time as a kitten at the centre when I was bottle feeding him and I officially adopted him through the centre. Other than that I've hand reared plenty of little kittens and baby rabbits, but haven't kept any of them."
Thank you for reading!