“We are a kind of spokesman for the animals that have no voice” – A Day in the Life of an RSPCA Officer

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Heather Wade has been an RSPCA officer for three years.

Heather Wade has been an RSPCA officer for three years.

Heather Wade is one of two rescue officers in the Northeast who works with eleven inspectors and a chief inspector of the RSPCA.

After studying zoology at the University of Aberdeen and completing her Masters in Wildlife Biology and Conservation at the University of Edinburgh Napier, Heather has been a rescue officer for three years.

The “limitless” work spans different animals in locations in the area each day, including rescue operations as far as Berwick and Middlesborough.

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Sweet corn, the rabbit, was rescued by Heather after an eye injury. Next to Sweetcorn is one of 45 guinea pigs that have been admitted to the RSPCA.

Heather, 38, said, “I’m going to get a job I can go to when I start my shift and that could be anywhere in the Northeast so I never really know what to expect when I start work because it could literally be anything.

“It can be difficult at times because there are only two rescue officers including me and unfortunately we don’t have a blue light. So we have to answer the most serious calls first, which means other animals in need may have to wait a little longer.”

The officer carries all kinds of rescue equipment, which may vary depending on the animal in need. Heather has studied many types of birds, including swans and seagulls, as well as dogs, cats and rabbits, and even an alien frog.

She said, “The most accidental phone call I have ever been on was a woman who accidentally brought a frog home from Disneyland, America, in her suitcase.

The northeast has big problems with birds getting tangled in the web.

“Exotic creatures can be difficult to deal with because sometimes you don’t know if they’re poisonous or if they’re biting. You don’t see them very often, and I don’t think anyone knows every exotic animal.”

Heather explained that her role can sometimes be emotional when some animals need to be euthanized and many rescue operations involve stressful situations where animals are in pain.

She added, “I really enjoy my job, but sometimes it can take its toll when animals are euthanized or in severe pain, but you learn to switch off and only cry about it when you get home.

“We care more than anyone about animals. That’s why we do this job. Every animal has a little life and we are a kind of spokesman for these animals that have no voice.”

Extensive equipment is required to help a number of animals.

Heather explained a major problem with the network in the northeast, particularly around Sunderland, Newcastle and South Shields.

She said, “Many rescues right now involve rescuing birds from the net over buildings. These birds will die of starvation and dehydration, which would be a terrible death.

“We are abused by people because they save birds, because people think it is a waste of time, but this is still a life that I am responsible for saving.”

The RSPCA charity relies on branches across the country to take in injured and wild animals, while also relying on RSPCA charity shops and donations for funding.

Heather said, “We couldn’t do this without these branches that take in rescued animals, pay their vet bills, nurse them back to health, and then bring them back home.

“We never want to exhaust these branches because sometimes they just have no capacity and there are always too many animals and not enough space and money – it’s like a vicious circle.”

Heather says all RSCPA officials are “working to do the right thing” and encourages everyone to look after their pets.

She said, “I have a responsibility to take care of animals. So if everyone made their own contribution and took responsibility for caring for their own pet, fewer animals would have to be saved. “

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