Musings of a behaviourist (after one of those weeks)…

June 5th 2016

It is well-known that professionals working in the care industry – whether that be animal care or human care – have one of the highest rates of burnout, compassion fatigue and even suicide. Recently the manager of an animal rescue shelter in Taiwan took her own life due to receiving so much hate-mail for having to euthanize some of the animals that came into the centre. In 2014, a internationally renowned veterinary behaviourist, pioneering in low-stress handling techniques, tragically took her own life.

I have yet to meet anyone who works in the animal care industry that isn’t completely passionate about their job. We do it to help others – both owners and animals – to educate, improve welfare, reduce suffering, improve the human-animal bond etc etc.

Things I have learnt this week:

  • Everyone will always have an opinion – suddenly most members of the public are experts in dog behaviour, animal rescue, animal law etc.
  • Social media can be a negative place – inaccuracies, rumours, keyboard warriors, differing opinions etc.
  • We cannot help all of the people and animals all of the time – circumstances are often very much out of our control.
  • We dwell on the infrequent difficulties of our job, despite the vast number of positives, compliments and the buzz we get 99% of the time.
  • No one is in this line of work for the money – as behaviourists, what we get paid pays for the next years worth of Continuing Professional Development in our obsession to better-ourselves.
  • Most people give their time for free far too often, whether it’s over-and-above what clients have paid for, marking student’s coursework, or other favours requested. Charitable work is frequently done for free or at a reduced cost in order to help as much as possible.
  • Gratitude is important – the small comments of thanks mean SO much to people.
  • Nothing beats a bit of teamwork – I’m thankful for a great bunch of colleagues, as this is a multi-disciplinary job.

This week there have also been some changes to the business. I’m pleased to welcome Jayne to the Pet Sense team – she will be welcoming new enquiries, answering relevant queries, providing necessary information and booking in visits. Pet Sense works closely with many local trainers and behaviourists and where necessary some clients may be recommended the services of a colleague. This is simply to provide a better service – it may be that the time-frame that someone else can help is more beneficial, it may be more cost effective, or the facilities required may be more appropriate elsewhere. In addition, work for various animal charities is ongoing and the support provided to the passionate and hardworking staff in shelters, and training of the rescue animals, is an important role that Pet Sense is proud to offer.