Animal lovers are being invited to apply to become RSPCA inspectors as the charity launches a local recruitment drive.
For the first time in three years, the RSPCA is looking to take on uniformed inspectors to investigate offences against pets and wildlife.
The 24 new recruits will be expected to cope with the unique physical and emotional demands of a role which could see them abseiling down mountainsides, swimming fully clothed or handling snakes.
Several of the successful candidates will be based in West Yorkshire - and thousands of applications are expected.
After finding out that a typical inspector is a 28-year-old woman, the charity is hoping to attract interest from recruits of all ages and backgrounds.
Dermot Murphy, who worked as an RSPCA ambulance driver, inspector and chief inspector for 16 years, said:
“This is a brilliant opportunity for anyone who thinks they’ve got what it takes to be an RSPCA inspector. No day is ever the same and there’s no better feeling than knowing that you’ve made a real difference to the lives of animals.
“However, anyone considering this job needs to apply with their eyes wide open. It is not easy and you need to be strong mentally and physically to cope with the distressing sights you have to witness, the emotional situations you have to handle and the difficult decisions you have to make every day.
“But for the right person, this could be the chance of a lifetime to get their dream job working on the frontline to improve animal welfare.”
RSPCA inspectors respond to animal welfare complaints from the public, advise owners on how to do the best for their animals and, where necessary, investigate concerns.
Inspectors need to have a good working knowledge of relevant legislation and be able to compile a cruelty case file of evidence, where appropriate, to pass on to prosecutors. Successful applicants will need to be physically fit to cope with the demands of the job - dogs can weigh up to 40kg and sheep 70kg.
They could be called out to all sorts of locations, so applicants must have no fear of heights or cramped spaces and no allergies to animals!
Just as important as the physical fitness is psychological and emotional strength. As well as coping with distressing, disturbing and heartbreaking situations involving animals, candidates need strong people and communication skills as well as empathy to handle difficult, extremely emotional and sometimes confrontational situations.
In particular, the role could be suited to someone who is more mature, or maybe with a background in social work or mental health.
Inspectors can spend a lot of their time working alone, on a 24/7 shift pattern, 365 days a year and the working hours can be long and demanding.
Successful candidates will spend a year training, taking part in physical tests including a 50-metre swim fully clothed, written tests and practical animal handling as well as training in handling difficult situations. It costs £50,000 to train and equip each new inspector.
The deadline for applications is March 17 and 160 candidates will be shortlisted and interviewed over six weeks. For more information and to apply to become an inspector, visit www.rspca.org.uk/jobs