IN more than eight years of service with the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Inspector Jenny Scott has dealt with cases ranging from the heart-breakingly tragic to the bizarre.
The former includes the many dogs, cats, horses and other animals rescued from lives of misery and cruelty, while the latter involves such incidents as the monkey that had to be enticed from its hiding place under the floorboards of a local post office.
But despite the many difficult cases she has had to deal with, Jenny, who’s patch covers the Borders, says she couldn’t think of doing anything else.
“After I left school, I went to agricultural college to study agriculture and horse management.
“But I was always interested in animal welfare and eventually applied to join the society,” she explained. “I started off as a probationary inspector and gradually worked my way up.”
During week days, Jenny, together with a specialist animal rescue officer, covers the Borders, but if on call at night or the weekend, she can be required to travel much greater distances.
“Each day, any jobs needing dealt with are emailed to us on our Blackberry phones and mostly the cases we will deal with involve some degree of neglect, abuse or abandonment.
“And these cases can be domestic pets such as dogs and cats, or horses and sometimes farm animals. I can also be on duty for events involving animals such as common ridings, when a large number of horses take part.
“I also do a bit of work with injured wildlife, although the animal rescue officer tends to do most of that as it is a specialist role.
“However, if he is at one end of the region and I am at the other and a case comes in near me, I will deal with it.”
Jenny admits that for an animal lover, the job of a Scottish SPCA inspector can often be quite tough emotionally.
“Yes, it can be difficult some days. The majority of my working life involves me dealing with people from the less desirable side of life and I’ve seen some pretty horrible things in my time.
“Some of these include animals badly treated or if it has gone so far, the animal is dead by the time we are called.
“So you have got to be quite a strong kind of person inside to deal with things like that and not show your emotions too much.”
As well as investigating such cases and compiling evidence for the prosecution of those involved, Jenny also takes part in the charity’s schools programme, trying to educate younger generations about animal welfare.
And then there are the more bizarre cases.
“The strangest case I’ve ever had to deal with was that of a monkey that got itself stuck under the floorboards of the post office in St Boswells a few years ago. I had to do several television interviews concerning the case as well.”
In the end, the monkey was tempted out by some food placed in a cat basket.
As well as the missing simian, the list of unusual incidents also includes more exotic creatures such as bearded dragons and tarantulas – the last being one of Jenny’s least favourite species of client.
“There is certainly a lot more variety among the animals we deal with, even just from when I first started in the job,” she told us.
“But I came from a horse/farming background in the Borders, so was pretty used to working with different types of animals from a young age.”
And with Christmas just days away, Jenny says the sad festive season tradition of unwanted animals being dumped will continue.
“It’s sad but that still happens. Added to that, I think there’s also more cases of unwanted animals because, with the current financial crisis, many people can no longer afford to keep their pets.
“It can be heart-breaking sometimes, but I love my job. You feel you are making a real difference in the lives of animals.
“And every day brings something different – one minute you can be dealing with a neglect case involving a horse, the next you’re trying to coax a monkey out from under someone’s floorboards!”