Melissa Ghareeb, Manager of the Equine and Farm Animal Center, the MSPCA at Nevins Farm
January 1, 2012

1. What is your typical day at the shelter?

We start out first thing by feeding all of the animals and giving out any medications they may need.  Then we usually have a short staff meeting to get organized for our busy day.  We discuss any appointments and what our priority projects are for the day.  Then we turn all of the horses out in their pastures, clean the stalls, the chicken coop, and any other areas that may need it.  And this is just the morning!  After morning chores we try to work to evaluate the animals for adoption.  This is the time we will also do medical treatments, talk with clients, and fit in the other tasks that make our shelter run.  At the end of the day we bring the horses back into the barn for the night, tuck in chickens and ducks, feed everyone dinner and get ready for our next busy day on the farm. 

2. How many years have you worked for the MSPCA? 

I began volunteering at the barn in 2002 and became a staff member in 2004.  It’s been a great 9 years!

3. What kinds of animals come through the barn? 

We see all types of farm animals come through our doors, from chickens and ducks to horses, pigs, and cows!

4. What is the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is helping to find great new homes for the animals in our shelter.  There is nothing like watching a new friendship bloom between an adopter and their pet. 

5. How does working with farm animals differ from working with more common household pets? 

Well, there are a few different ways.  Most farm animals are much larger than our regular household pets, so we do everything on a bigger scale, whether it’s the size of their pasture or the amount of food they eat.  Another difference is that most farm animals are prey animals, while more common household pets, like dogs and cats, are predators.  This means they will have different instincts when faced with new things or if they are scared. 

6. Is there a specific animal who has come through the barn who really affected you? 

When I first started working for the MSPCA full time, we took in a large group of horses that we housed off site.  I worked exclusively with this group for two months.  These animals were all malnourished and scared.  This was the first group of animals in this condition that I had worked with so closely.  It was an amazing experience to be a part of the team that helped to rehabilitate these animals.  I learned so much from them.  It was heartbreaking to see these horses when they first came in and an incredibly uplifting experience to help them heal and be adopted into new homes. 

7. Do you have any pets at home?

I have two dogs (pugs) named Nessie and Butch.  Nessie is 9 and Butch is 13. We’ve had Nessie since she was two and we’ve had Butch for over two years now.  I also have two 11 year old cats named Bo and Daisy who were our first pets.  We’ve had them since they were kittens.  

8. What is your favorite animal, if you had to choose just one? 

That’s a really tough question!  I’m torn between pigs and goats…but I guess if I have to, I’ll choose goats.  I love these goofy guys with their affectionate and curious personalities. 

9. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

I switched back and forth between an archaeologist and a veterinarian. 

10. What advice do you give to kids who are interesting in a career working with farm animals in shelters? 

The best thing to do is to volunteer.  This will help you tell if it’s the right fit for you, while giving back to your community. 

11. If all the animals found homes, which different career path might you take? 

I think I might try to go back to school for an animal health related field. 

12. The barn can get pretty chilly even in the summer, so how many layers of clothes do you need in the barn in January? 

It sure can get cold!  I usually wear two pairs of pants, three or four shirts, a heavy jacket, heavy socks and boots, plus waterproof gloves and a hat!  It’s a lot of gear, but it helps me to stay cozy and warm even on the coldest of days.