Exclusive Interview with Rehoming Welfare Assistant at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home
Have you ever seen Battersea ‘backstage’? Get an inside look on the every day life of a passionate Battersea employee.
Published on the 26/04/2019, 07:00, Updated on the 19/12/2019, 15:26
The Battersea Dogs and Cats Home is one of the UK’s most well-renowned and beloved rescue centres for pets. Known as the ‘Temporary Home for Lost and Starving Dogs’, when it was first created in 1860, it’s come a long way in its 157 years of existence. Battersea is now open not only to dogs, but also to cats, with, as its core value, to never turn away an animal in need. The charity has cared for more than 3.1 million animals since it opened its doors.
Between caring for rescued animals, helping animals get into foster care, reuniting lost animals with their families, raising funds, educating the public, and conducting animal welfare projects, Battersea is all over the map in the UK, and has understandably gained great respect from the British public.
All staff members at Battersea are lovely people, who love animals, are passionate about their welfare, and who are dedicated to their mission. Doing what’s best for the animal is always a priority for a Battersea staff member.
With many years of experience under her belt, Joanne Champion is a Rehoming Welfare Assistant in the cattery at Battersea London. We were recently lucky enough to speak to her about her work there.
Wamiz UK: How long have you been working at/involved with Battersea?
Joanne: I’ve been at Battersea for 29 years. I first started off working in kennels before moving on to the Cattery around 12 years ago.
W: How did you get involved?
J: I’ve always loved working with animals – before coming to Battersea I used to work with horses at a stable, so I knew I wanted a career in the animal sector.
W: Have there been many emotional moments in that time?
J: There’s been plenty of emotional moments at Battersea, especially when you form a close bond with a timid cat, who you see flourish and find a new home. You can really gain a cat’s trust from meeting them on their first day and it’s lovely to see how far they come, from being shy in a corner to sitting comfortably on your lap. It’s heart-warming to see them off with their new owners and hearing their progress at home.
W: Any funny stories about things that have happened?
J: We see lots of energetic kittens during the year, especially during kitten season. They can be a massive distraction from work as they’re hilarious to watch, as you can imagine.
W: Can you talk us through a typical day at Battersea or is there no such thing?
J: My day at Battersea starts at around 8am, where the first tasks will include saying hello to the cats, cleaning their pens and giving them breakfast. I’ll then go through their behaviours and will take notes to help determine the best type of home for them. I’ll also spend time socialising with them, whether it’s sitting beside them and offering them a lap or playing with some toy mice. I also help to manage the fantastic volunteers who give up their time each week to help us care for the cats.
W: How do you feel when you see an animal being restored back to full health and rehomed?
J: It’s amazing to see a cat who has arrived in a poorly condition, to go off and find a new home. It makes you reflect on the amazing work we do at Battersea and makes a long day at work all worthwhile.
W: Do you become attached to the animals? Have you had any particular favourites?
J: We recently cared for an adorable black and white cat called Matt who looked as if he had a moustache. The three-year-old arrived in April after his owner was expecting a baby and was very fearful due to being in an unfamiliar environment. But he soon became friends with us after we gained his trust and his confidence grew significantly during his stay.
W: Are there long-term inmates that find it hard to get a forever home?
J: We give all cats a full health screening when they arrive at Battersea. A very small percentage will be diagnosed with a slow acting virus known as FIV. Most infected cats will enjoy a normal lifespan with no apparent health concerns. However, potential new owners will need a secure garden for their own and other cats protection. It may therefore take a bit longer to find them the perfect home.
W: What’s the best thing about working at Battersea?
J: Of course, the cats! There are plenty of other great things about working at Battersea too, one being the people. Totally unexpected things occur too, for example; we once had an exotic cat, an Asian Leopard, brought into Battersea. It walked through someone’s cat flap and they had no idea what to do with it, so they brought it into us. It was taken to a wildlife sanctuary as you need a licence to own these types of cats.
W: Any drawbacks?
J: Wanting to keep all of the cats you become attached to!
Battersea truly does incredible work for animal welfare. Their programs are thoroughly tailored to the needs of their patients, and their staff is so serious when it comes to their well-being. Hearing Joanne talk makes us want to stop typing and head over to Battersea to give the staff and kitties a helping hand! Thank you for all your hard work, Battersea.