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Environment, Agriculture & Conservation careers

Animal Health & Welfare

Why get into animal health & welfare?

Animal health and welfare actually revolves around the wellbeing of both humans and animals. Slogans like, “Dogs are for life, not just for Christmas” are synonymous with this area of work, but an equally apt slogan would be “Bird Flu, not now, not ever.”

Animal health revolves around promoting and enforcing the protection of animals, as well as the control of diseases that can spread from animal to animal and from animal to human. The main players in this subsector - your main opportunities for a graduate job in this field - are charities and the government.

What do I need to get into animal welfare?

Animal welfare has a long history in the UK and this is reflected in the numerous laws we have against animal cruelty. As a nation we feel a duty to protect those that are unable to protect themselves and we extend this duty of care to animals too. A large percentage of the £9.3 billion  that’s given to charity each year in the UK by individuals is donated to animal charities. These donations pay for rescue centres, rescue staff, lawyers and awareness campaigns.

The vast majority of people who work in this field have an interest in animals and their wellbeing.

Even within some of the major organisations in this area, such as the RSPCA, the PDSA or the RSPB, you will find multiple roles that require differing levels of qualifications and experience. The best thing about this area of work is that everyone can get involved, from school leavers to lawyers with ten years of experience.

Passion for what you are doing should be a major motivator if you want to be involved in animal health and welfare. Although salaries stretch across a broad range, working for a charity or directly for the government means that you are unlikely to reach the sky high salaries that you might expect from working in other sectors.

What can I do within animal welfare?

A huge variety of different employees are required in this area of work. Vets, veterinary nurses, marketing executives, fundraisers, lawyers, event organisers, animal collection staff and an army of other volunteers all work together to improve and enforce animal welfare.

The other side to this subsector is arguably even more important and focuses on animal health. This is led by Defra (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs). This government organisation has the responsibility of ensuring that animals are kept, transported and killed using humane methods.

They are also responsible for managing, containing and eradicating outbreaks of disease in animals and making sure that the animals and animal produce that enters the food chain is safe to do so. Their remit also extends to protecting endangered species from poaching or importation to the UK.

Careers in animal health and welfare are, therefore, highly varied. However, each role is of fundamental importance to the moral and ethical integrity of the country as a whole – after all, you can always judge a person by how they treat their pets and the same goes for a nation!