27/08/2014 Ashley Uncategorized

am currently advertising for on-call staff to help out during our busy times at the cattery. Steady hours, even though likely, are not guaranteed. Even so, I require staff that at the least have some sort of animal qualification or some years of practical experience in an animal facility. It is just part of the standard that we aspire to at this cattery. I will not deviate from this and in fact under the new Code of Welfare for Temporary Housing of Companion Animals, these two specific requirements are “Recommended Best Practice”. (As it should be).

I have received many applicants in response to my advert, unfortunately the vast majority are unsuitable. It never ceases to amaze me the number of people who do not read the advertisement thoroughly or just plain choose to ignore the requirements. This is a waste of my time and theirs.

If you are passionate about working with animals, why not go out there and get some qualifications. It’s not difficult. Should you choose to investigate the many opportunities open to you at various educational institutions, you will find options for fulltime study, part-time or correspondence courses. Age is no barrier.

A few years ago, life was throwing a number of curve balls my way and I was pretty much at a loss about how to move forward. I had two passions, travel and animals. I looked at courses available to me at Tauranga Polytechnic. A career as a Travel Agent was tempting, however, animals won out and in 2009, I enrolled to study for NZ Certificate in Animal Care and NZ Certificate in Animal Handling.

It was one of the best years of my life (if not the best). I could not wait to get to class each day. The woman in the red Mini Cooper assumed a bit of a reputation, racing along State Highway 29 from Papamoa to Poike, weaving in and out of traffic in order to get to Tech in the shortest possible time.  There were a number of adult students on the course; I was one of the oldest.

Looking back, I loved every minute of my classes. I worked hard and presented every assignment to the best of my ability. I was consumed, even to the point where I would not leave my study at night to eat, meals were brought to me. I had three of the most wonderful Tutors you could ask for and learnt so much. However, educational benefits aside, I also made lifelong friendships with other students in my classes and opportunities opened up to me that would never have happened had I not enrolled in these courses.

The trips to Borneo and Cambodia to work with Orangutans and Sunbears respectively being one example. Volunteering at Australia Zoo near Brisbane another.  But closer to home, working in Vet Clinics, stables, on farms, kennels, animal parks, Zoo’s, and while in most cases it does not lead to fulltime employment at these places, the life experience is invaluable.

If you had said to me a few years back that I would own and manage a large boarding cattery business, I would have thought you were on another planet. However, when the opportunity arose, I knew I could do this. The confidence I’d gained from being at Polytech, completing the courses and being involved in all the other exciting animal experiences as well, was the trigger.

I’d never owned a cattery before, didn’t know the first thing about running one. But it didn’t matter; whether you’re looking after Orangutans, Sunbears, Monkeys or cats……..their basic needs are the same.  And when you work alongside animals, you never stop learning and it is so rewarding.

So all you people out there who think they would like to work in an animal facility………ENROLL, ENROLL, ENROLL!!!  You never know what the future will hold.