Meet SPCA Dunedin Centre's Gemma!
Meet Gemma, Canine Attendant at SPCA Dunedin! Read about what her role involves, how she came to be in it, and all the best and worst parts of her job.
How would you describe your work, in a nutshell?
My job is to take care of the dogs that need to find a new home because their owner can no longer care for them. We make them feel better, teach them things and then find them a new family that will love them.
What made you want to work for SPCA?
Before working for SPCA I was a volunteer. I volunteered three times a week, spending the entire day at the Centre, where I was working with the dogs. I loved it, so when I saw the job for a canine attendant advertised I knew I had to go for it! For me, I wanted to work for SPCA for a few reasons. I loved working with the dogs and having the opportunity to expand my skills and knowledge. I loved being around likeminded people, too. We are all mad animal lovers and at work, it is the place I feel the most accepted for my passion for dogs. Finally, I loved the idea of being part of something bigger, being part of a team wanting to make a difference, saving animals and finding them loving homes.
What does an average day look like for you?
Basically, I look after anything other than cats! So, my focus is on the dogs but I also care for the small animals and any wildlife. My morning consists mostly of cleaning, but also some walking and training too. My afternoons usually involve more training and walking but also the most important part which is finding homes for the dogs! So, taking photos, writing profiles, doing behavioural assessments, finding the best matches for a dog and then doing a meet and greet with interested parties.
What is the biggest challenge of your work?
Although seeing the state of the sick and neglected animals is sad for me, it actually isn't the hardest part of the job because that is why they are here; to get help from us to get them out of those situations, and make them feel better. The hardest part is the long-stays at the Centre, the animals that spend month after month here. We can see the animal has great potential and often we fall completely in love with them, so it is hard to understand why they have to wait for so long to find the forever home they deserve.
What is the best memory you've made at SPCA, or your favourite part of the work?
The best part of the job has to be seeing the transformations in dogs I care for. This can be anything from a huge improvement in behavioural issues, in health, and in happiness! It is very nice to receive updates from adopters and see the transformations they have made in their new home, too!
Is there one thing you wish people knew about what you do?
Most people assume my job is all about cuddling puppies and walking dogs but honestly it is so much more. There is always lots to do from cleaning to vet trips, training to providing enrichment, and match-making dogs with their perfect families. There really isn't much time left over for down-time with the dogs, which is why we rely on our amazing volunteers to spend quality time cuddling and playing with them, ensuring all their needs are being met!