my time working at Battersea Cats & Dogs Home

[dropcap]A[/dropcap] few years ago, jaded with the trials and tribulations of working in the television industry, I stumbled across a job vacancy on the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home website and with nothing to lose, I applied thinking I would never hear anything from it. To my surprise, two weeks later I was getting ready for an interview! I have always been animal crazy, since I was teeny tiny- in fact, my whole family are. Growing up we had cats, dogs, chickens, ducks (those, I wasn’t so crazy about) and even the odd monkey or two wandering into our back garden. Lucky for me, I got the office based job, said adios to the media world, and spent two wonderful years working in the country’s most well known animal shelter.

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This little guy ( his name was Christopher) was one of many, many adorable puppies I got to coo over. I had never- and will probably never again- work in such an animal friendly environment. The offices were full of baby gates and dogs beds, acting as doggy day care for some of the more shy dogs from the kennels. Getting covered in doggy slobber was a daily occurrence and my Battersea fleece was usually covered in fur. It was a tough job keeping those kennels maintained, and to be honest it sometimes felt like a losing battle; the Home was enormous and I’d spend a lot of my time stomping from one end to the other, no matter the weather, sometimes hitching a ride on one of the green gators. Sometimes in winter the pipes would freeze, or the main jolly, the drains would always get blocked. Also, absolutely nothing but a hot shower and shampoo will rid the smell of an 8am kennel walk-through off from your hair.

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For my last few months working at the Home, I called this listed building my office, and it was easily my favourite spot to work from. It was right next to the front gate where visitors walked in from and it was good to see all the coming and going on’s. One time, my friend Bud gave me a driving lesson in the staff car park- I was awful (and am still licenceless!) One of the perks of my job was access- I got to walk on the roof tops of the kennels, see the view from inside that clock tower, and speaking of views- I got to see this iconic landmark everyday:

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Our office in the cute house in the middle of the Home, was also right outside the newly built Cattery, where there was a kitten room. Kittens for days. On days I was feeling overwhelmed or wanted a few minutes peace, I would disappear in here, sit on the floor and just let myself be trampled by kittens to cheer myself up. Did I want to take them home? Always. Any excuse, I would go into the cattery for a wander.

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One of the perks for working at the Home, was getting involved and volunteering in any events. For both years I was there, I volunteered to take part in the Home’s float for the Pride parade. Every year was themed, and one time we went as Glee- I was Rachel Berry- and spent the hottest day of the year in knee high socks and a sweater vest, miming and dancing to “Don’t Stop Believing” on top of a float.

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There was also the time I volunteered to get my face painted as a cat…

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I wish I could tell you what this was for…knowing me, someone mentioned face paint and I was out the door signing up for it!

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The final year I took part in Pride, our sound system failed, but we were in front of the British Airways float who had roped in Blue to be in their float. Shameless group photo with Duncan James!

It wasn’t always fun and cuddles though. I learnt so much in two years at Battersea about animal welfare, about the prejudice over Staffies, the sad or terrible stories of some of the animals that came through those gates. I love Staffies by the way, they were just always the most loving, goofy, sweet natured dogs. There was Sandy the Staffie that was so scared in kennels, but was the most affectionate sweet girl once inside the ‘safety’ of an office, the deaf Huskie puppy that was taught sign language, the Chihuahua puppy that was so tiny her foster mum fashioned a jumper out of a pair of knickers for her, and the one time I watched a chubby Golden Retriever walking down the fire escape of a kennel building, all by himself, and made his way towards the car park, like he just fancied popping out for a bit.

I also met some terrifying dogs, that had been bred for dog fights or some even the victims of dog fights, or some females that were just made to churn out litter after litter for puppies to sell. If it was hard for me to stomach the tales, I can’t even imagine what it must have been like for the staff that took care and were hands on with the animals. I’ve never come across a more passionate bunch since.

The Home doesn’t get any government funding at all and relies on public donations. Battersea Dogs & Cats Home has had a bit of publicity recently thanks to Paul O’Grady, but like I said, it wasn’t all cheery pip. I still have such love and admiration for Battersea Dogs & Cats Home; if you fancy a gander on their website or even want to learn more about donations, visit them here!

Author: Angela Shek

just a clueless mama in East London

29 thoughts on “my time working at Battersea Cats & Dogs Home”

  1. This sounds like the best job in the world!!! I want it! Will look at vacancies immediately! :p how come you left?

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  2. it was hard but definitely top of the list of great jobs! there were talks about another organisation reshuffle and suddenly my department wasn’t so stable anymore. I found another job, back in the meedja world, and a few months later I found out my old job had been made redundant!

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  3. Very interesting post! Sounds like a brilliant place to work that would definitely tug on your heart strings… and purse strings for shampoo haha! x

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  4. This was one of the best post I think that I’ve read. I love animals too, but working in a place like that…I think I would need a really large house! hah! But it sounds like so much fun too! Cuddling with kittens? Who wouldn’t love that!
    xx
    Kenzie
    Behindhazeleyes06.blogspot.com

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  5. Angela, thank you so much for this blog post. I absolutely love animals and have always wanted to work for Battersea but have always been turned down, and I’m not in the position to have dogs or cats so the only way I can contribute to easing the lives of these sweet creatures is donating to animals charities. This post made me really sad yet hopeful (that sign-language husky? Brilliant. More proof that they are really smarter than us and one day we will be serving them). This is post we all need to read, so thank you for blogging about Battersea’s good work. And power to you for being a part of the solution 🙂 x

    Jasiminne | Posh, Broke, & Bored

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  6. How amazing to have worked there, although I’m sure it was bloody hard going at times.
    If I got to do ‘it’ (life/existence/whatever) all over again I’d buy some land and set up a rescue center in a heartbeat. Animals, especially pooches, are just so intelligent, it’s extraordinary.
    Thanks for sharing.
    M x Life Outside London

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  7. and their characters! every dog had different personalities- there was a one staff dog in particular that just did not want to know me and I made it my mission to make him love me (didn’t work)

    One of my friend’s in the office next to mine had a Spaniel and one day he decided to go for a swim in the pond in Battersea Park- she had to jump in and fish him out. He loved it…her, not so much.

    I loved working here, it was just unlike anything I’ve ever done!

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  8. oh Jasiminne, thank you! I remember the Volunteer department were always overwhelmed with applications! There were so many Huskies at Battersea, they’re just not good city dogs, and sadly so many ended up with us. I was lucky enough to have two years there, but there were some who had been at the Home for decades- I still feel loyal to it after all this time!

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  9. I would love to work at Battersea, especially after watching all of Paul O’Grady’s shows there. So many incredible animals that I hate to think have ever been hurt or rejected. It must be one of the most rewarding places to work. Love this post!

    Liv | http://www.maidenincornwall.co.uk

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  10. Wow what a wonderful place to work! I bet it was amazing seeing all the animals every day, and it seems like so much fun getting to do all the fundraising events! We don’t have a flat big enough to get a puppy of our own yet, which is fine as I spend a lot of time at my parents house and we have a whole bunch of animals still there! I can’t wait for my first little dog though, just the thought of it fills me with excitement! Alice xxx

    http://www.woodenwindowsills.co.uk

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  11. I would have so happily got one tomorrow if I had the space, but it’s not fair if you don’t. My boyfriend isn’t a huge fan of pets but I told him from right at the beginning when we got together if we were going to work, I would be allowed to have a dog! 🙂 xx

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  12. I so enjoyed this little peek into the dogs home! I’ve just recently rescued a dog and am having the most fun. It is so sad to think of how many animals are still waiting for a forever home. (and oh my god, I know what you mean about the fur.. everywhere!)

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  13. Absolutely beautiful blog Angela! I’m 38 years of age, and have lived in London since 2008. I desperately need a u-turn in my career. I worked sales and media sales along with other bits and bobs, but the corporate world has just caved me in. So I’ve been out of work 12 months whilst trying to do my own thing. I thought about studying canine hydrotherapy, but needless to say, a job is required to fund that.

    In any case, my intention wasn’t to come on and moan! haha – I just wanted to say thanks

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  14. thanks Aidan!

    I know how you feel, I just reached a point where I knew working in my chosen ‘field’ wasn’t working out for me and it was making me unhappy. I didn’t think I stood a chance when I applied for the Battersea job, but the risk paid off. I didn’t go back to TV work after that but it did send me down another path that I couldn’t have otherwise planned. Wishing you lots of luck on yours!

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  15. Amazing! I have a little idea up my sleeve about what I would like to do. It’s not actually related to animals at all, but it’s away from the corporate rat race. It was really my desire to work with animals that caused me to focus away from Corporate London, so it has indirectly effected my decision. Animals rock!

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