Working with animals: Employer case study

Donna Cotton gives a flavour of what it's like to work at the PDSA.

What does your company do?

As the UK’s leading veterinary charity, with 51 pet hospitals and over 380 pet practices, we strive to improve pets’ lives – through prevention, education and treatment. Every year our dedicated vet teams carry out 2.7 million treatments on 470,000 pets. Our national network of over 150 high street shops help us to provide these treatments through selling both donated and new goods.

We believe that we work better together, so everyone from our vets, volunteers, shop teams and to our office support colleagues – we are driven in our dedication and passionate about pets. Join us and help improve the lives of every pet.

How many people do you employ?

There are 2,000 employees at the moment. About 1,400 of these are on the veterinary side of the business, about 400 are on the retail side and the rest are doing head office jobs such as finance, admin, public relations (PR) and marketing.

There are also over 5,000 volunteers who help out in stores and in veterinary hospitals.

Where are you based?

Our head office is in Telford, Shropshire and we have various regional offices. We have a contact centre in Sunderland and a national volunteer centre in Winchester.

Our pet hospitals are based throughout the UK. In areas where there is no hospital we provide a service through around 380 pet practices. Our 150 stores are based around the UK.

What types of roles do you offer?

Veterinary roles include veterinary managers, veterinary surgeons, head veterinary nurses, veterinary nurses, animal care assistants and auxiliary animal care assistants. We also have a new role of community and education veterinary nurses.

In our retail section we employ shop managers, assistant managers, stock and sales assistants and stock collectors. There are also area and regional retail managers.

Our head office roles cover the usual roles of a company such as administration, human resources (HR), finance, retail support and marketing.

We have specialist departments in fundraising and legacies, as we are funded entirely by donations.

Do you have to be qualified in a specific area or subject to work for the company?

Veterinary surgeons, veterinary nurses and veterinary care assistants have to have the required qualifications in order to work in that area. Other staff will need the necessary qualifications needed for their job such as HR and accountancy qualifications.

What’s next for your business?

Health education and prevention is becoming increasingly important to us and we do have some new jobs such as community and education veterinary nurses. They work in the community, educating the public about pet wellbeing, animal behaviour and animal welfare issues. They also carry out pet health checks.

There are veterinary nurse and animal care assistant apprenticeships and applicants have to have the minimum requirements for entry to these jobs. For veterinary nursing this is a minimum of GCSEs in maths, English and science, and applicants for animal care assistants have to take a maths and English test. There are also retail apprenticeships.

Donna Cotton

Donna Cotton, PDSA

More case studies

I work on the PetCheck programme, which involves travelling around the country in a mobile clinic offering health checks for dogs, and advice on pet care generally.

Sarah Spinks, community and education veterinary nurse, PDSA

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