Saturday 7 December 2019

Why I left my high-flying career to work for the DSPCA: 'The joy of it is that at the end, we get to find them homes with their tails wagging'

DSPCA Adoption Consultant Suzanne McGovern
DSPCA Adoption Consultant Suzanne McGovern
DSPCA Adoption Consultant Suzanne McGovern

Joanna Kiernan

Rathfarnham native Suzanne McGovern left the corporate world to work with the DSPCA, writes Joanna Kiernan

Five years ago, Suzanne McGovern left a high-flying corporate sales career behind her to work with neglected, abandoned and abused animals taken in by the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA).

"I was part of the corporate world in a previous life, but got a little bit disillusioned and I started volunteering up here in the DSPCA in my spare time," Suzanne tells me.

"Very quickly, I realised that this was a perfect place for me; it combined my love of animals with, I suppose, my sales experience. So when a job opportunity became available here on the DSPCA Adoptions Team I jumped at the chance.

"It was a big change, going from the corporate world of fancy suits and company cars to having no money, but the job satisfaction is immense and I have to say, I haven't looked back since."

Suzanne began working with the DSPCA as the group's fundraising manager and is now a key member of the society's four-person-strong adoptions team.

"I am an adoptions consultant, so our job is to find homes for all of the animals that come into the shelter. Once they have been treated and have gone through the veterinary process, they come to us and we set about finding them a home and matching them up carefully with new owners, who will treat them respectfully," Suzanne explains.

Suzanne has been an animal lover from a very early age. "Growing up, I was a cat lover," she says. "I have always had cats, literally since I was a toddler and I had dogs as well, so I have always had a particular fondness for animals and gravitated towards them. It was only later on in my career that I actually came upon the DSPCA and the work they do here; it is the perfect job for me, even though I had never considered it before then."

DSPCA Adoption Consultant Suzanne McGovern
DSPCA Adoption Consultant Suzanne McGovern

"I suppose after being a part of the corporate treadmill, it is good to do something that you love," Suzanne adds.

"If you find something you love doing, I guess the next thing is to figure out a way you can make money out of it," she laughs. "I loved sales too and the experience has stood to me greatly because I deal with people every day now also, so your skills from previous jobs will always benefit you in the next job and my job now is so satisfying, I really enjoy it."

However, the very nature of the DSPCA's work means that there are some very distressful elements too.

"Unfortunately, we get really busy after Christmas and contrary to what people might think, it is not actually the puppies of Christmas we have coming in - that tends to happen more in spring time, March or April, when people have had time with the dogs and perhaps the dogs are at the teenage stage of their lives, but what we are finding more of an issue for us in the lead up to Christmas and after Christmas each year now is that people will often call to surrender older animals; dogs and cats which may have been with their owners and families for many years," Suzanne explains.

"So spending time with them during the holidays may have forced some owners to acknowledge that they may not want them anymore and they'll abandon them."

"We can get up to 40 calls a day from people wanting to surrender their animals, often for minor issues. Sometimes it can be genuine, people may have fallen on hard times or become ill, but others would frighten you with excuses like there being too many dog hairs around the place," Suzanne adds.

"And it's generally not what we are here to do; we do take in surrender animals, but what we are here to do is to treat sick and injured animals and that is our priority. We take in animals that have been found in various stages of neglect or have been abandoned, or cases of abuse and mistreatment."

And every day, the DSPCA inspectors return to the shelter with more and more animals in need of care, kindness and love.

"Most of the animals our inspectors bring in are in a very bad shape," Suzanne tells me. "The beauty of this job is that you get to see them coming in and their conditions at that stage can be pretty horrific, but the joy of it is that at the end, we get to find them homes and see them go off with their new owners, looking fantastic with their tails wagging."

"We see them coming in and the tail is down and they have literally given up on life because of the things that have happened to them," Suzanne adds.

"All it takes is a kind word, some good food and warmth, lots of cuddles and love and it is as simple as that and so satisfying to see them get better and go to their new homes."

As one might expect, Suzanne and her colleagues in the DSCPA work very hard to make sure that all of new homes for the animals meet the strict adoption criteria.

"The main thing would be that when you look to adopt an animal and bring it into your home you have to treat it like another family member," Suzanne says. "When you choose to adopt that means you choose to be a responsible owner as well. We have a strict enough process because we have to ensure that, second time around, these animals get a home where they are going to be treated with kindness and respect for the rest of their life."

Suzanne has even adopted some animals of her own along the way. "We have a foster department also and we have all done that; all of the staff and volunteers and we have all failed miserably at fostering," she laughs. "So I have two cats and a dog and they have all come from here. We will all foster mainly newborns from time to time that come into the shelter and need to be bottle-fed, so it is a big commitment, but when you are working here the love that you have for it means you don't mind doing those things."

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