Tuesday, 29 May 2012

I want to work for the RSPCA!

One of the things I hear most often when I tell people I work for the RSPCA is “Oh I would love a job with them,” or “I want to work with the animals, can you help me?” or even “That was my dream job when I was little but I suppose it’s too late now”

Do you want to know a secret? It was my childhood dream too.

Me (with big sister) aged five - already passionate about animals!

The RSPCA has always had a special place in my heart. Throughout my adolescence I raised money for the charity through cake sales and even penned a passionate article about the RSPCA and puppy farms in the magazine I used to write as an 11 year old. (Interesting note: the magazine was alarmingly entitled ‘Kinky Mag’ but only because I had no idea at all what that word meant. Honest).

I staged campaigns and petitions through my school on all manner of animal related issues, including veal crates and battery eggs.

At six, I held a protest in office of my then headmistress, to convince her to make a wildlife conservation area in a wooded patch at the edge of our playing fields.

After much wrangling, she agreed. I didn’t do myself any favours with my schoolmates though. Most rather fancied the idea of a tennis court to be honest.

One summer I even lied about my age to volunteer at an RSPCA branch near Cardiff. (I am not proud of the fact I fibbed...well maybe a little).

I loved it - walking the animals, feeding and brushing them, even cleaning up dog poo. I would call my mum in tears most days begging to be able to bring home the dogs and cats I had been looking after.

Indeed I became so attached to one cat - who I named ‘Dribble Cat’ - that I still have a picture of her in a photo album. Mind you, this was about 17 years ago now, so I would guess Dribble Cat is enjoying fish pie in the sky by now.

But I didn’t start my career working for the RSPCA. Like many people I speak to, I just didn’t know how.

So I became a journalist instead. Which given my auspicious start as the editor of Kinky Mag - is hardly surprising really.

A decade later, I had done my post grad in news journalism, worked as a regional reporter, food critic, theatre and art reviewer and even a health and science reporter.

It was great – although stressful – and yet I had become a little disillusioned with my line of work.

I would occasionally hear people say how much they ‘loved’ their jobs. I liked mine, (a lot of the time anyway), but ‘love’ your job? Surely it wasn’t possible for normal people like me to love their jobs?

Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy the travel and excitement that come with my job, but I felt I wanted something more...I wanted to do something that mattered. Something I really cared about.

That was when I saw the advert. Suddenly I realised I would combine journalism with animal welfare by working as a press officer for the RSPCA. I had never even thought of that. WOW.

I found out I had got the job on my 26th birthday and now, here I am four years later.

Its not all going to TV studios and hugging fluffy kittens and lovely bunnies though.

I have watched endless hours of horrible footage; heard harrowing stories from those on the ground; visited countless farms, animal centres, hospitals and branches; watched dozens of castrations and operations; seen the terrible affects of cruelty on vulnerable animal and humans through schemes like Pet Retreat...and yet...

...I can honestly say I do love my job (most days!) and I feel like I do something worthwhile.

I sometimes wonder how I have come so far from the 11 year-old girl sitting in her room writing impassioned articles about puppy farming...to the 30 year-old sitting in an office writing impassioned articles about puppy farms!

But of course, sometimes coming right back to where you started is a pretty amazing place to be.

To find out more about working or volunteering for the RSPCA, why not visit: http://www.rspca.org.uk/getinvolved
Calie Rydings, Snr Press Officer


  1. hello, what age do you have to be to get a voluntary job as a dog walker/groomer/poo picker upper because when i am older i would LOVE to be an rspca inspector and want all the experience i can get! thank you so much

    1. Hi,I am not sure i would love to work for the RSPCA but I think it is 12 or 13