ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL
WOMAN'S OWN|November 09, 2021
Taking care of the animals they love at Christmas is a job these women will never tire of
KIM WILLIS

‘It’s the best way I could possibly spend Christmas Day’

Susie Winship, 35, lives in Suffolk and is an animal welfare assistant for Blue Cross, the national pet charity. She has opted to work the last eight Christmas Days, dedicated to cats and dogs in care over the festive period. Scooping up the family cat, I sat beside the Christmas tree and gazed at the lights. I was five years old, and my parents had adopted a kitten, who I called Oscar. It was Oscar’s first Christmas and he suddenly leapt out of my lap and ran up the tree, toppling it over. I adored him. I’ve always loved animals, and my parents instilled in me it was better to adopt than go to a breeder, as so many pets needed loving homes. Seven years ago, I worked in corporate sales but I wasn’t happy. So I quit and started volunteering at the Blue Cross rehoming centre in Wherstead near Ipswich, as well as fostering dogs and cats at home. Now I’m an animal welfare assistant, looking after the animals until they are rehomed.

Over Christmas, there are around 12 dogs and 25 cats, plus the odd litter of kittens. We also look after small animals like hamsters, rabbits and guinea pigs.

I love working on Christmas Day. The phones don’t ring, there are no emails. It’s a day dedicated to the animals. We’ll go out on a long dog walk, and the animals have stockings and presents. We give the cats catnip, and the dogs get toys and treats. It’s the best way I could possibly spend Christmas Day. Animals don’t realise how much joy and love they bring.

Often the reason people ask us to rehome a pet is because they don’t have time for them. But one thing we’ve all had more of since the pandemic is time.

If you’re keen to welcome a pet into your family, contact a charity like Blue Cross. You’ll be giving a pet a second chance, and they will give you companionship, loyalty, fun and friendship.

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