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Meg – Humans of Avon and Somerset

Woman with shoulder length blonde hair wearing a brown jumper and blue lanyard smiling.

Their lives have been dedicated to protecting people, so we need to protect them when they retire from service.

Meg, Cyber Protect Officer

I grew up with animals, and when I left school I was intent on find a career path where I could explore this passion. After completing a veterinary nursing diploma, I became a fully qualified veterinary nurse and worked in that field for about five and a half years. I kept working during the first year of the pandemic, until I realised I wanted a new direction in my career. Wanting to try something different, a family member suggested for me to look at the varied roles in Avon and Somerset Police. Beginning as a Vulnerable Victims of Fraud Coordinator in 2021, I then became a Cyber Protect Officer the following year. I didn’t realise at the time, but I would soon be able to combine my passion for animals with my newfound role in policing.  

I first encountered the WAGs charity when I read a recruitment blog on our internal website, where they were looking for volunteers after receiving a grant. The purpose of introducing the Volunteer Scheme was to expand the charity and raise more awareness. I often work normal office hours in my police staff role, and I love keeping myself busy in my spare time. The ethos of the charity appealed to me, and so I applied to be a volunteer. 

Woman with shoulder length blonde hair wearing a brown jumper and blue lanyard smiling.

WAGs covers three police organisations – Avon and Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. It has been established for over a decade now, and over that time has grown and grown. When police dogs retire, their owners will often struggle to get insurance for them. They often retire with health conditions like arthritis, and they might have been medically retired from working which often involves multiple conditions. The reason WAGs was founded is to support police dogs that have spent their entire lives serving and protecting. A part of the charity’s ethos is they don’t believe a dog’s welfare should be dictated by finance. Owners shouldn’t have to make a crucial decision based on finances alone – that’s where they come in and help, to support any decisions made. 

Once I became a volunteer for WAGs, I started attending public events and raising money for the charity. Our public season starts around May each year, and we will travel to different events – anything from dog shows to village fetes. The expectation as a volunteer is to give up time to participate in those events, helping to maintain our materials and to engage with the public. We’ve also got a mascot, so someone always has the lucky job of wearing the costume! Volunteers do this role because they have the same belief and passion as the charity. They believe we need to give something back to the dogs that have spent so long supporting the public, some since they were puppies. Their lives have been dedicated to protecting people, so we need to protect them when they retire from service. 

Last year, one of the trustees stepped down, and the board of trustees approached me to nominate me to fill the remaining space. I was very honoured to take up the role, and now I am the personal and corporate fundraising co-ordinator for the charity. The role involves obtaining corporate sponsorships, working with different organisations and businesses to bring more money into the charity. It’s a very fun and rewarding role – I do a lot of public speaking, TV interviews, and I’ve taught myself some web development so I can help maintain the website. As a trustee I have a more influential role, so I can help make decisions about the charity’s prospects, where we support, and where we can allocate money to.  

We’re a completely independent charity, we rely on public and corporate donations to support the dogs and their owners. There is at least one trustee on the board from each of the forces, which maintains the communication, particularly with the different dog sections. With a large network of connections, the charity currently supports about 50 retired police dogs across the three organisations. We’re ready to step in and support any of them at any given time – but we can only do that because of the fantastic work of our volunteers.  

The thing I love most about my main role as a Cyber Protect Officer is getting out and about. I don’t like being stuck at a desk too long, so getting out and working with different groups is great. This is really similar to my role in WAGs – I’m always out and engaging with people, whether that be at events or even speaking to media outlets. I love both roles and am so lucky to have been able to continue working with and supporting animals while also developing my career in policing. 

Woman with blonde hair in ponytail wearing black fleece and blue jeans kneeling next to and cuddling a German Shepherd Police Dog which is wearing a black bandana around his neck.