Guildford and Epsom Branch

A special thank you to our fantastic volunteer, Ann

Ann has been volunteering with us since 2011 when she bravely took on the welfare assistant role, which is a huge time commitment and can be very upsetting. 

Administering our welfare assistance involves helping people get veterinary treatment for their pets, and managing all the calls and emails that come into our branch at all hours of the day and night. The role can be emotionally demanding as we deal with situations that are often very sensitive and complex. 

To be a volunteer welfare assistance you need good listening skills and empathy; many of the queries are distressing. Often people get in touch as they have lost their job, or their home, and are understandably distraught at the thought of potentially having to give up their pet as they can’t afford the care or vet bills. It is a fine balance to make sure that all queries are dealt with delicately, with limited resources as we rely on donations, while ensuring that what’s in the best interests of the animal are at the core of all advice and decisions.   

You also need great negotiating skills and Ann has worked very hard on our behalf to secure reduced veterinary treatment, which has literally saved us hundreds and thousands of pounds per animal. The more we can save on vet bills the more animals we can help as we have finite funds. Getting the best outcome for the animal is always at the heart of what we do.

Unlike other volunteer roles, the types of queries that Ann deals with cannot be put on hold, not even until the next day, which is why this role needs the utmost commitment.

That’s not all, you also need a great deal of patience and dedication. Most months Ann will easily take a 100 plus calls ranging from snakes being found in a box, to geese running riot in a supermarket car park, to anything to do with cats, rats or bats, plus all the veterinary care queries. The diverse range of queries that Ann deals with is endless. No amount of training can prepare you for this and inevitably, each call could lead to 10 plus subsequent calls to finally get the situation resolved. So you also need to be very resilient. 

Ann miraculously does this day in, day out with absolute charm and grace, and with no personal financial gain as she’s a volunteer so gives her time for free. You never see Ann looking less than immaculate, even when grappling with the challenge of having a cat bite on the top of her finger when she helped a member of the public with a stray cat!  

You wouldn’t think Ann would have much time to do anything else, but as well as the volunteer welfare assistance work she also helps with our fundraising events. Ann often brings her rescue  Eurasian dogs to our events, which always entices people over for a chat about our charity and animal welfare.

We are so lucky to have Ann’s support. She has never taken a proper break from her role, even taking the phone away on holiday with her, which shows just how dedicated she is. We are extremely grateful for everything that Ann does. At our socially distanced, Covid-Secure Annual General Meeting in October we took the opportunity to recognise and thank Ann for all her hard work and passion over the past nine years.  

Thank you Ann, you are truly amazing.