How to work with animals

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How to work with small animals is this week’s topic in “how to with Lola”.

Lola, from Argentina interviews the other volunteers and other experts to teach us what they know. Today’s blog is about how to work with animals and how not to work with small animals, what is the correct attitude to take and which are the most frequent jobs that we cannot avoid when working with animals. For this, she interviewed one of our volunteers, Adriana from Poland, who has been working with us for almost half a year now and takes care of all our small animals.

As a charity and shelter for horses and animals, we received numerous messages from people interested in coming to help for the day. We understand that there are many animal-loving people out there and this fills us with satisfaction. But many times loving animals doesn’t really mean knowing how to take care of them. This is why today we decided to write about how to work with animals. So that all those who want to come to give a hand to the refuge are more prepared and willing to do so. Don’t judge us, we love your help! But it is good that you know more in detail what it means to work with small animals since sometimes, not everything is what it seems!

Who is Ada Venture

Ada is a veterinarian student, she worked for Tenerife Horse Rescue almost for half a year. Her job here is to take care of goats, sheep, cats, rabbits, pigs, guinea pigs, turtles, chickens, ducks, parakeets and more. Basically all of the animals which are not equine. There is not a better person to do this job due to the fact that she is not only a animal lover but also very knowledgeable about their needs. She was working with animals all around the world. I invite you to follow her and see her job! It’s amazing. 

Small animals I take care of here are much more independent than horses, they don’t need training and human company so much, but they need attention like every other animal”. 


To work with small animals you need to be a good observer. 

Except feeding, giving them water and cleaning their cages and paddock she observes the animals and studies them a lot. This is actually the best way to know something about the animals, as they don’t interact with humans the way that cats and dogs do. From being a good observer you can know if the animal feels good, what food he likes, who he is friends with or opposite. There are situations where animals can attack each other so we need to be there to see it and react.  Remember that we work with rescued animals, this means most of them were not having a great time before. That’s why her every day mission is to give these animals the best life they could possibly have. That’s why every day she pays special attention to giving  them their favorite fruits and vegetables, just to watch them enjoying their meal.

If I could think of important things that working with animals requires is being open for changes as they are living creatures and being aware of what you are doing. For example I never work with my headphones as it distracts me too much. I need to focus to think like I was one of the animals I work with” says Ada.


Special cares animals need

First of all, It is really important to check every cage well. You need to think about all the possible ways they could escape from the paddocks. Aware of this, Ada is looking for holes in all the cages and trying to find all the traps that could possibly hurt them. It’s like being one move ahead.  It’s true that the material we use for building cages is recycled so it gets destroyed faster and we sometimes need to repair it more often. That’s why we need to check every day if the cage is in good condition. Everything has to be waterproof and rat proof. 

Another thing to keep in mind is the cage accommodations. We are located in a really hot and windy place on the island so the animals need places with shadow to hide and sleep. Most of these animals like privacy and dark places far from the sun.  Also they like to play, so we need to choose the correct accessories for each animal. For example, guinea pigs like running through tunnels so we create some for them with long tubes. Cats instead, prefer other kinds of games, so we need to think about and provide. Every animal has its own preference. 

Empathy is a must

The days are never the same here and if there is something wrong with one of the animals, Ada and the rest of the team is responsible to give animals in need enough attention. As we already said, It’s not just about feeding and cleaning. We really need to be aware of animals and we cannot miss anything that’s wrong with them because tomorrow could be too late. That’s why we select the correct people to work with our animals. Because it’s the main task here. We like when volunteers really commit with animals and try to do the best for them. If one of them is cold, give him shelter, if he is not eating, try to change the meal, if he doesn’t like his cage mates, find another one. This is being empathetic with animals. We need to be aware if they have problems with health and might need medication or a vet.

Volunteer for a day

We are really grateful with all the help we receive and all the people who show interest in our animals. We meet amazing people and have great experiences. But at the moment of working with them, sometimes we have some problems. You need to understand that we already have a volunteer team that works every day with our animals. So they know what to do and how. When we receive helpers, we need to show them how to do everything and this requires a lot of time. Also because sometimes we need to do it again after them. 

There is no problem with this, we are happy to show you how to work with animals. But if you don’t have a basic knowledge, that is also fine, but at least we ask for the right working attitude. This means to be open with what we ask you for. 

Some bad experiences with volunteers

One day (a few hours) is not enough time to learn big things about how to work with animals. So often we ask people to help us with the simple tasks such as cleaning cages or walking dogs. Cleaning is a really important task by the way because an animal can get sick if his cage is dirty for a long time.  That’s why we clean the cages every day. This is the basis of the job, but its not much “fun” and people usually don’t want to do it. We have so many animals here so all of us clean poop of different animals every day and this is what actually working with the animals requires the most.

A few weeks ago one girl just left after 20 minutes because she thought she would be riding horses as a help, not feeding small animal or cleaning cages. People Expectations about this place sometimes can be really different from reality. We work with and for animals. And this is not an easy job. This demands a lot of effort and dedication. We are not here to have only fun, we are here to help the animals and give them a better life. And being dirty is part of it. 

The bonus you get from gaining the trust of the animal you are working with is priceless but it takes a lot of our effort, time and patience” says Ada. 

That is why we want to motivate people to help from the basics and to come back so that they can learn other things. The more you know, the easier and more fun it is! We welcome to come and join our finca family of humans and animals together.

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1 Comment

  1. […] We also have volunteers for a day. This is special help from people who already have their work or personal commitments, but who still like to come visit the site and give a hand to our permanent volunteers. We have already talked about this topic in another post, and if you are one of those who is interested in coming to help for a day, I really advise you to read it. […]

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