Driv­ers needed

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD MAYS

A Manawatu¯ af­ter-hours an­i­mal emer­gency am­bu­lance ser­vice is run­ning on empty due to a lack of vol­un­teer driv­ers.

The Manawatu¯ SPCA op­er­ates two am­bu­lance ve­hi­cles to help sick and in­jured an­i­mals that re­quire im­me­di­ate ve­teri­nary as­sis­tance.

How­ever, Palmer­ston North cen­tre man­ager Katie Ped­er­sen said the SPCA had been op­er­at­ing on min­i­mal vol­un­teer am­bu­lance staff through the win­ter.

She said too few driv­ers on the ros­ter in­creased the chance of vol­un­teer burn-out, mean­ing more stress on the re­main­ing driv­ers and staff pressed in to main­tain the ser­vice.

With sum­mer ap­proach­ing Ped­er­sen would like more driv­ers for the out-of-hours and week­end ros­ter.

‘‘In spring and sum­mer we get a lot more call-outs. With finer weather and day­light sav­ing there are more peo­ple on the road and more an­i­mals get in­jured.’’

The ma­jor­ity of an­i­mal in­juries were caused by cars, and while cats and dogs dom­i­nated, at this time of year Ped­er­sen said they got a lot of duck­lings.

‘‘We had nine duck­lings here yes­ter­day. A cat had got one of them, the other eight had lost their mother, run over by a car.’’

The duck­lings were sent to Tu­rak­ina’s Bird Res­cue.

While the thought of res­cu­ing fluffy duck­lings may help with driver re­cruit­ment, Ped­er­sen said vol­un­teers needed to have strong stom­achs.

‘‘It can be trau­matic. Some of the in­ci­dents are not pleas­ant. But our vol­un­teers say that if they didn’t turn up, the an­i­mal would be left suf­fer­ing. Help­ing al­le­vi­ate that makes you feel good.’’

While vol­un­teers who have an­i­mal han­dling skills are pre­ferred, full train­ing in all as­pects of the job will be given.

‘‘We teach pro­ce­dure and equip­ment use, and tele­phone man­ner to deal with peo­ple who call in and who may be up­set.’’

The SPCA’s af­ter-hours re­gion ex­tends from Ash­hurst across to Hal­combe, out to San­son and across the river to Lin­ton.

‘‘We are look­ing for an­i­mal lovers who are re­spon­si­ble and re­li­able driv­ers with a full li­cence and clean driv­ing record who are able to cope with emer­gency sit­u­a­tions.’’

The am­bu­lance ser­vice op­er­ates be­tween 7.30am and 9pm seven days a week. Ideally vol­un­teers would be ros­tered one week on and have be­tween five to seven weeks off, Ped­er­sen said.

PHOTO: WAR­WICK SMITH/STUFF

Katie Ped­er­sen, Palmer­ston North SPCA man­ager with Ge­orge.

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