Case study

Principal dog carer — Jacqueline Avery

Jaqueline puts the skills she learned from her animal science degree to use working in a dog rescue centre. She enjoys matching dogs with loving homes

How did you get into working with animals?

I studied animal behaviour and welfare at Plymouth University but transferred to Canterbury Christ Church University to study the BSc Animal Science programme. I graduated in 2015. I currently work as a principal dog carer at Stokenchurch Dog Rescue.

I was looking for a career in a rescue environment and so applied when I came across this position. I had an interview and a trial day prior to being offered the job.

How relevant is your degree?

I believe that my placement was probably the most relevant part of my course. However, learning about behaviour and welfare, as well as diseases and animal health has given me useful knowledge.

Being able to choose my dissertation project, and carrying out research has also been useful.

What's a typical day like?

My day starts at 8am feeding the dogs and cleaning the kennels. We have volunteer dog walkers who come in daily so we get all the dogs prepared for their walks.

After making lunches for some dogs, we then have our own lunch. The afternoon consists mainly of talking to members of the public regarding the rehoming of the dogs, getting dogs to meet their potential adopters existing pets, washing and grooming, assessments of new dogs and working with chosen dogs on certain training aspects.

After this, the dogs have their dinner and we clean up before heading home.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I believe that the most enjoyable part of my job is finding the dogs their perfect match and then getting to see them leaving with their new owners. This is definitely the most rewarding part.

What are the challenges?

The main challenge is fitting everything into the working day.

What advice can you give to others?

Do as much voluntary work as you can within your chosen field and within relevant organisations. Also, be persistent. Don't be put off by rejection, keep going until you get what you want.

Look on main job websites as well as individual company or charity sites. Not all jobs are advertised in the same place. The easiest way to find a job is to create a list of organisations in the area you wish to work. You can then frequently check each individual website, as well as the main job sites.

Experience is as important as a qualification so volunteer alongside your studies. Don't be afraid to take temporary or maternity cover contracts either, as these add to your CV and enable you to gain valuable experience.

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