Graduate Profile: Sara Alan-Smith
What I Do
I’ve been working for Blue Cross 16 months now as an animal welfare officer. We take in unwanted or abandoned pets and try to find new homes for them. We’ve got four hospitals in the UK which treat animals for people who couldn’t otherwise afford veterinary care. I did my eight week work placement here and then I volunteered for half a day a week while I was completing my degree at Hartpury. We work with the kennels, the cattery and the small animal section. The key parts of my job are the day to day care of those animals: feeding, cleaning, walking and training. The other side is the rehoming to the public, matching the animal they are interested in.
Why I chose Hartpury
I was working in public relations in the energy sector, which was a great job for a number of years, but I realised it wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my working life. Going to Hartpury was great because I knew that was what I wanted to do. I found all the tutors were really passionate about what they did and they were really keen to support students. And it’s a lovely environment, a really nice campus in a nice location.
What I studied at Hartpury
Everything I do in my job links back in some way to the modules I studied on my degree. I studied where companion animals come from, how they’ve evolved to live in a domestic environment. We also looked at animal welfare, how you can measure it and what you can do to improve it and behaviour, how you can understand what they are communicating by the way they behave.
Advice for people wanting to work with Animals
Gain a clear picture about the path you’re going to want to take when you go into the work place. It is very useful to get some work experience before you choose a course. I would recommend voluntary work to see if that is really something you’re passionate about. If you want to develop a specialist position in an organisation or even become self-employed then you will need a higher qualification as well as practical experience.