Tuesday, 29 September 2015

A week in the life of an RSPCA pet carrier

Hello! My name is ‘Carrie’ and I am one of the team of pet carriers that the RSPCA Manchester & Salford branch employs in the course of their work rehoming and rehabilitating rescued animals. I’ve been asked to keep a diary of a typical week in my life to give you an idea of the sort of thing I get up to, so here goes!


My first job of the day is to transport kittens Billy and Fitz from their foster home in Whalley Range to the branch’s cattery (most people don't realise we don't have an animal centre of our own so have to rent spaces in a private cattery). These kittens have been in foster care for quite a while as they have sensitive stomachs and it’s taken some time to get them on the right diet. One of their foster family is heading back to university after the summer, so they aren't able to provide the daytime care the kittens need any more, so the boys will be rehomed from the cattery.

Billy & Fitz safely dropped off at the cattery!

In the afternoon I am taken to where the rabbits are boarded and transport baby bunnies Mildred and Miller for a trip to the vets for a health check and their vaccinations. Mildred and Miller came into the branch a week ago and once they’ve had the all clear from the vets they will be available for adoption.

I then return the rabbits back to where they are boarded, which is a half hour journey from the vets that the we use for rabbits. This is because they are an “exotic” vet. (Rabbits might not seem all that exotic to you, but in veterinary terms rabbits are a specialist species). All in all this job takes around 90 minutes to complete!


I start today at the cattery transporting new kittens Dolly and Kenny to the vet so they can have a general health check, vaccinations and be microchipped. This pair of kittens has been in a National RSPCA inspector’s house for a month, but prior to that lived as “feral” cats. They are a lively pair who are still getting used to regular, human contact, but they were very well behaved whilst I carried them and at the vets.

Dolly & Kenny en route to the vet

I then went off on a road trip in the back of the van to collect 6 young rabbits that have recently been rescued from poor conditions where breeding had got seriously out of control. We meet up with a National RSPCA inspector from Sheffield in Tintwistle, which is at the edge of the Peak District. When we have space we take animals from our inspector friends in South Yorkshire; we always meet there because it is half way between us both. I take two of the rabbits and the rest are put in other carriers and then we head off to the rabbit boarding place.

Rabbits collected from a National RSPCA inspector

On arrival at the rabbit boarding place it becomes clear that the rabbits aren’t in good shape – all are bloated as a result of having been fed a poor diets and two of the young rabbits need to be whisked off to the vets immediately. One has fly strike and the other looks extremely bloated. So off we go again to the vets and they are admitted overnight. Phew! 


It’s a morning of vet trips for the cats, so I travel back and forth between the cattery and the vets (which is about a 20 minutes journey if it isn’t rush hour!). Firstly, Veronica and Reggie go for their 2nd vaccination. This young pair of siblings were from a home where breeding was out of control and have been in the care of the branch for 3 weeks. Happily they’ve already been neutered, microchipped and are reserved and go to a new home at the weekend!

Next up I transport new arrival Cooper for a check over at the vets and to get him microchipped and vaccinated. Cooper’s owner was unable to keep him after the breakdown of a relationship and loss of their home. Cooper is much fancier than most of the cats I carry and he didn’t seem too impressed with the sing-a-long version of T’Pau’s China in Your Hand we were “treated” to on the way back from the vets.

Cooper on his way to the vet for chip and vaccination


Thursday often seems to be the busiest day of the week and today was no exception. My first job of the day was to head to a foster home to collect cats Po and Pamela and drop them off at the vets. They are staying in for the day to be neutered and microchipped.

Po & Pamela

At the vets we meet a colleague who has just collected 2 baby guinea pigs (roughly 8 weeks) that were abandoned in a cardboard box by the side of the road. After being given a clean bill of health by the exotic vet I take the guinea pigs to their new accommodation in private boarding and get them settled in with plenty of hay and water. The male ginger pig is named Bill, and the white female, before she even has time to be named, finds a new home with one of the branch's volunteers. She's a very lucky girl and will have lots of new piggy friends to live with!

Box in which the 2 baby piggies were abandoned

Piggies abandoned on the way to the vet

Baby pig Bill getting his check up

In the afternoon I transport Dahla the kitten from her foster home to go to the vets to complete her primary course of vaccinations. She had a full health check whilst we were there and she got the all clear and will now be made available for adoption along with her brother Milo, who she was reunited with back at her foster home.

Dahla on her way back to foster care

My last job of the day was to collect Po and Pamela from the vets after their neutering procedure and returned them back to their foster home. They were very relieved to be back and none too impressed with their buster collars.


First thing I transport Patsy the kitten to the vet for her vaccination and a check over. Patsy is a nervous girl and we’ve found a perfect foster home where she will get more used to being with people and will have the good influence of a few very friendly cats. So after her vet trip I took her to her new foster family in Salford.

Gaynor when she first arrived in our care
In the afternoon a call is received from the rabbit boarding to say that a baby bunny Gaynor is quiet and lethargic. In bunny terms this is classed as an emergency condition, so I get rush off to go and collect her. I safely deliver Gaynor to the vets and she is admitted for the weekend.

Sadly Gaynor’s condition worsened and she was becoming increasingly unwell. The decision was made to put Gaynor to sleep on Sunday. An autopsy revealed she had a blockage in her gut that had begun to rupture. This is a very sad end to my working week and I’m grateful for the care she was given.

Saturday & Sunday

At the weekend I get to enjoy a bit of R&R before it starts all over again on Monday. Me and my fellow carriers (the branch employs about 12 of us) like to keep in shape for all the heavy lifting we do, so we might do a bit of weight training and enjoy a good scrub. Occasionally we have to jump into action if an emergency occurs, but thankfully this weekend we all got to relax and rest.