Meet SPCA Whanganui Centre Manager Francie!
Meet Francie, the Centre Manager of SPCA Whanganui! Each of SPCA's 35 Centres around the country have a busy, dedicated Centre Manager at its helm. Francie talks to us about what her role involves, the best and worst parts of the job, and what a typical day on the job looks like (hint: there isn't one!)
How would you describe what you do?
As Centre Manager of SPCA Whanganui and also a qualified vet nurse, my role is to ensure the staff, volunteers and the animals here are supported so they can thrive. Being an animal welfare shelter, most of the animals in our care have special needs, whether relating to their health, an injury or their behaviour, they all need a tailored care plan to ensure their needs are met. It’s a very hands-on role with no two days ever the same. Things I do in this role include training staff/volunteers, talking to the public about animal welfare, caring for animals in our Centre, keeping in touch with foster families and vets, and finding the animals a great family for their fresh start… to name a few!
Why did you want to work for SPCA?
I’ve always known I wanted to work with animals and make a difference in their lives. After completing a Bachelor of Science and a Diploma in Veterinary Nursing, I began working in a vet clinic and gained invaluable clinical experience… but I always felt I wanted to do more to help animals in need and started looking into Animal Welfare. The opportunity to work for SPCA in a Centre Manager role for the last 6 years has allowed me to use my skills to help change the lives of vulnerable animals and has allowed me to gain a huge amount of experience and knowledge I can share with my amazing team to help them grow.
Tell us what an average day looks like for you.
There is no such thing as an average day for SPCA Centre staff! We never know what the day is going to bring. As a small team, we are all involved with the day-to-day care of the animals. A usual day starts with ensuring the animals are all fed, cleaned and health-checked before the Centre opens at 10am. From then on, I will be dealing with incoming animals, ensuring we follow our managed entry process of prioritising sick, injured, young, old, and pregnant or nursing mother animals.
We also have appointments throughout the day with foster carers bringing their foster animals in for regular health checks, weigh-ins and treatments. Then there are adoptions to process as we match families with their new fur babies, and our local vet is at the Centre twice a week for any veterinary needs and vaccinations. We also compile a list for our animals requiring desexing each week so I am always in close communication with the vets. I am also always talking to fellow SPCA Centres in the surrounding area as we work together closely to share resources where needed to ensure the best outcome for every animal under our care. If I’m lucky, I might get a brief minute to sit at my desk to trawl through my emails and to do list!
What is the biggest challenge in your work?
One of the biggest challenges I face is supporting my dedicated staff through the negative feedback and nasty comments they see on social media around our work and organisation. My team are dedicated to giving every animal the best possible outcome, and unfortunately sometimes animals come to us so severely injured or sick, or they don’t respond to treatments and the heart-breaking decision has to be made to euthanise an animal. These decisions are never made lightly, and euthanasia is always the very last option we want to consider.
Another big challenge of a Centre of Whanganui’s size is the amount of animals we have coming into our care. On one day alone we had 22 kittens brought in, when our cages we all already at capacity. The logistics of working out where these animals can be placed, from foster homes to other SPCA Centres takes a lot of time and resource. A huge focus for us lays in educating the public about the importance of desexing to reduce the number of unwanted kittens, and SPCA have been assisting with our various Snip ’n’ Chip campaigns to help facilitate this.
And how about the best part of what you do?
The best part of my job is knowing each day I’m working towards making a difference in the lives of animals. Seeing animals come in from a rough beginning, then over time thriving in our care, and finding their new families is unbelievably rewarding. Some animals are in our care for many months as we treat skin conditions, manage weight gain, work on injury rehabilitation or behavioural modification, and so many other issues we see in abused, abandoned and neglected animals. During these animals’ time with us, we become very close to them and we get immeasurable satisfaction seeing them connect with a new owner and provide joy for their new families. We often get regular visits, with some animals we once healed back to health still visiting years later.