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    • 17 Jul, 2019

    What is an Animal Welfare Officer?

    Every day, our Animal Welfare Officers (AWOs) work in communities around London, reaching out to and assisting pet owners, the homeless, the elderly and the vulnerable. The community support projects they run range from controlling feral populations and rescuing abandoned animals, to helping get access to routine and preventative treatment.

    Being an AWO with Mayhew is no small task. We work hard to build trusting relationships with people in local communities to ensure that we are the first contact in their time of need. We are out in the community every day, and we have several key projects that we work on. Our days are often packed with any number of these projects, spread out all across London.

    Rescuing animals

    Many of the animals we bring in are found as strays or have been abandoned. We respond to calls from members of the public when they find an animal in distress or in need of rescuing. This involves going out to find the animal, rescuing it, bringing it back to Mayhew for assessment by our Vets and then placing the animal in the care of our Kennels or Cattery team. We ensure that the situation has been recorded on paper, and document the animal’s details on our online system.

    Trap, Neuter and Return (TNR)

    This programme is aimed at controlling the feral cat population in London, through preventative measures.  We respond to calls from the general public and go out to trap feral cats and bring them to our Community Vet Clinic, where they will be neutered. Once they have fully recovered, we bring them back to the same location of their colony, providing the area is a safe and suitable environment for them.

    Pick & Snip

    We offer a free service aimed to help vulnerable pet owners have access to preventative veterinary care. This includes collecting the animal from the owners, bringing them back to our Community Vet Clinic for treatment and then returning them safe and sound. Part of this service includes explaining the benefits of neutering, including medical and behavioural, what procedures will be carried out and what aftercare is required once their pet in returned to them.

    Pet Refuge

    We are able to provide shelter and care for the pets of people in crisis onsite in the Mayhew kennels or cattery. By building and nurturing trusting relationships with the homeless, vulnerable people and other community members, we can provide this lifeline for people who face a personal crisis, and hope that people feel a sense of reassurance knowing that their animals will be well looked after by us.

    Working with the homeless

    For the last 19 years, we have been working with the homeless and rough sleepers, helping keep dogs and owners together. We work with several charities across London, and regularly visit the homeless and their dogs at shelters or on the streets.

    A big part of the work we do with the homeless includes giving each dog a general check to make sure they are healthy, and we make sure the homeless are coping with their dogs or whether we can help, offer advice or arrange any appointments (such as neutering) with our Community Vet Clinic. If a dog requires further treatment and care, we organise a visit with one of our Vets for free, where the dog will receive any urgent medical treatment and preventative care.

    Throughout the year we also collect donations of food, treats, toys, poo bags, collars with tags and leads and jackets. We distribute this wherever needed.

    Community education

    We know how vital education is in preventing cases of neglect, abandonment and abuse. As an AWO, you are often teaching young people about animal care, animal handling and animal welfare issues. This can be at the Home or out in community centres, schools and clubs.

    Our vision is of a society where people understand the importance and value of animal welfare, and this starts by educating our local communities.

    A fundamental way in which we operate is to be non-judgemental, so that people always feel that they can approach us and confide in us. In this way, we are in the best position to help as many animals and their owners as possible.

    No two days are the same as an AWO, and this role certainly keeps you on your feet. Needless to say, it is a challenging role as you are exposed to both the highs and the lows of working with animals. However, the impact that our team can have on the lives of animals and people alike gets you through every hard moment and keeps you smiling long after every happy ending.

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