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Ten-minute chat
  1. Andrew Trawford


Andrew Trawford has worked for the Donkey Sanctuary for 17 years, and is its director of veterinary services. As a champion of animal welfare, he has spent considerable periods abroad as an ambassador for working animals.

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What made you join the Donkey Sanctuary?

To further my animal welfare ambitions, having worked for charitable organisations in Canada and Jamaica, but more especially to initiate research work on the donkey, which at the time was in a scientific abyss.

How did you get to where you are today?

My father encouraged me to challenge rather than to accept concepts, and always to adopt a philosophy of ‘There's no such thing as can't do’ – everything is possible, given ambition, help and, of course, luck.

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By pursuing challenges and wishing to learn from the global experience of other veterinarians. I also wanted to see diseases that I had only read about in textbooks and was unlikely to encounter in the UK.

What does your job involve?

Dealing with welfare issues on a global basis with particular emphasis, of course, on donkeys and mules. Being an ambassador for animals in countries where their profile is in the shadows.

What do you like about your job?

Interacting with people, not just other professionals, on a one-to-one basis to benefit resource-poor communities as well as their animals. Research is very important and forms the backbone of all policy decisions and fulfils the ‘need to know’ side of my character.

What do you not like?

Very little, except the endless paperwork and endless meetings. Being a practical, outdoor person, these are huge constraints.

The strain on family life – not being able to spend sufficient time with my family, especially when the children were growing up.

Why is your job important?

I have a conscious desire to improve the health and welfare of animals and humans, and this job allows me to fulfil it. Unfortunately, there is always the feeling that I could and should do more.

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What advice would you give to someone considering a similar career?

Don't do it – it looks and sounds glamorous, but travel, hotels, lonely meals and the frustration of making such small changes to humankind for an enormous input of time and effort means it is not as glamorous as it sounds.

What's the best piece of advice you were ever given?

There is no such word as ‘can't’ – try, try and try again.

What was your proudest moment?

On a professional level, it was the publication of my first scientific paper. Personally, raising two sons who care as much about animals and people as I do.

… and your most embarrassing?

Operating on the wrong leg of a dog.

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