News and events

Charli- Animal Welfare

Hi, I’m Charlotte (referred to as Charli for ease and because the other Charlotte was here first!), and chances are that if you have adopted from us in the last couple of years, you have spoken to me.

I am one of the Animal Welfare Officers which make up the six members of the Animal Welfare Team for the RSPCA Mid-Norfolk and North Suffolk Branch. I joined the team back in April 2019 after completing a degree in Animal Behaviour at Anglia Ruskin and leaving my job as an Education Officer at ZSEA Banham Zoo.

My main role at the RSPCA focuses around the adoption and re-homing aspects of the Branch. I also assist with welfare vouchers, vet appointments, and behaviour advice. However, during lockdown, my main role has been dealing with enquiry forms and conducting home visits. Due to the pandemic I have been mostly home-based and my spare room has become my office (with the added bonus of rats and guinea pigs as work colleagues who are actually way less distracting than my usual colleagues!).

Home-based working comes with many challenges; my fridge is far too close to my location which means that day-time snacking is a real problem, my dog believes that he should be the centre of attention when I am at home, and despite my youthful age, I have limited technology skills- I only downloaded WhatsApp in 2019 and what on earth is Twitter?!

A virtual home visit starts off by the new potential adopter seeing my happy smiling face; if the home visit is at 9:15am, I am usually accompanied by a large cup of coffee. I then begin to ask a few questions relating to the species of animal they are adopting. After that, it’s on to our new questionnaire relating to coronavirus; we’ve introduced this questionnaire to try and keep both the adopters and our staff as safe as possible. Once the questions have been asked, it’s on to the virtual tour of the property, including the outside of the property and the nearest road.

Once the home visit has been conducted, I then go into a bit more detail about the specific animal they are adopting: previous history, veterinary history, current diet etc., and then I explain the process going forward. The home visit also provides the adopter the chance to ask any questions they have too. I have done so many home visits that they run super smoothly (if I do say so myself!) and I even have a ‘script’ in my head of all the things I need to say and ask.

Not being able to see other members of my team is really hard. Working from home alone is lonely, especially when you’re staring at the same 4 walls. However, it is made that much easier by getting to see the faces of all the lovely people looking to adopt a new furry friend, even if it is over a computer screen. Humans are social creatures (most of us anyway!) and I guess the one issues it has highlighted to me, even more-so than before, is how lonely group-living animals who are living on their own must feel.

Therefore, I think it is super important to draw attention to this issue and strive for better animal welfare. Lockdown has shown how isolated we all feel and is a perfect example of how social animals must feel too. Did you know it is illegal to own a solo guinea pig in Switzerland?

EmmaCharli- Animal Welfare