Meet Inspectorate Team Leader Ben!
Meet Inspectorate Team Leader Ben. He is based at SPCA’s Masterton Centre and leads a group of dedicated SPCA Inspectors and Field Officers in the wider Wellington, Wairarapa and Manawatu regions.
SPCA Inspectors and Field Officers work on the front line every day, rescuing animals who have been in an accident, abused, neglected, abandoned or caught up in a natural disaster. No day is ever the same for Ben. Not only does he lead and support his team members, he also assesses prosecution cases and court files, and goes on the road to help rescue animals in need.
Keep reading for a glimpse into his role at SPCA.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
The hardest part is seeing animals suffer unnecessarily, and seeing my team having to deal with this aspect of the job. I really dislike having to watch videos involving animal cruelty – it’s just so barbaric and it leaves you feeling awful.
It’s also pretty tricky ensuring the public understand what we can and cannot do regarding animal welfare – there can often be some misunderstanding around the legal parameters we at SPCA have to operate in, and minimum standards of care. Helping passionate animal lovers understand that it is unfortunately legal to tether a dog for long periods for example, can be very challenging.
What’s your favourite part of your role?
I really like helping people (and animals of course!). I am lucky that in my role I get to do both. Often, I am desk-based these days, where I work with my team of inspectors and field officers to achieve great outcomes for the people and animals we encounter.
I also really enjoy being the one responding to jobs on the road, where I can personally make a significant difference in peoples’ and animals' lives – once you make a decision to take an animal to protect it or provide it with what it needs, there is huge satisfaction in being able to do that.
I am so grateful that the SPCA values encourage us to be kind as we carry out our work in the field.
What’s one memory that will always stand out to you?
There is one that always comes to mind when I am asked a question like this. In December 2014 I was called to Tawatawa Reserve in Wellington’s Owhiro Bay area. Someone said that they had found a kitten in a box that appeared to have been dumped there.
I located the box in some long grass and opened it up.
The wee grey and white twelve-week-old kitten was heartbreakingly dead. Whoever had dumped him, at least had the heart to leave some cat food, some bedding and a toy. Even though the kitten was emaciated, alone and dying, he was obviously a fighter, as he still had some cat food in his mouth. A last attempt to get the food he so desperately needed. It was just so, so sad. Some items in the box could have potentially identified who was responsible, however significant enquiries and a media appeal failed to locate anyone for us to speak to.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to do what you do?
Being an Inspector is a great job, there is a mix of indoor and outdoor work and you never know what you might end up dealing with. You need to be prepared for a lot of paperwork, and be able to communicate effectively with people from all walks of life. The biggest thing is probably understanding and accepting that what we can enforce, is often not the ‘gold standard' of animal care - but that’s something we always strive for in our education work with the public.
What do you wish the public knew about what you do?
That when we deal with complaints of animal cruelty or neglect, it’s usually not just one visit and either we walk away or we prosecute. Even when we are not looking at prosecution action, we make multiple visits to a job to ensure we effect the desired behavior change, and do what we can to change the world for that animal.
We have a raft of other possible outcomes such as assisting with desexing to prevent more animals at an address, providing information and advice to animal owners so they can be the best they can be, issuing education and warning letters and generally being well resourced to help in one way or another.