Wendy O’Connor spends her days patrolling Palmerston North’s parking spaces but she’s positive about getting back to her passion of working with animals.
Helping her get a step closer to that goal has been completing the New Zealand Certificate in Animal Care (Level 3) through SIT2LRN as a straight A student.
Born in New Zealand but raised on a dairy and beef farm in Australia, as a child Wendy milked cows and mustered on horseback. In her late teens, she learned to break in horses and make saddlery, the skills being passed on from the horseman from whom she bought her first horse.
After working a variety of jobs, Wendy moved to Invercargill in her 20s and completed the first year of an environmental management qualification at the Southern Institute of Technology before taking a job at the Invercargill City Council as a resource management administration officer.
“But my passion has always been for animals, so I spent over a decade in adventure tourism in Queenstown, working at two major horse trekking businesses as a lead guide, and also had two horses of my own.”
A friend who worked at one of the stables passed on their skills barefoot trimming horses, and Wendy began a hobby business offering that service to horse owners.
She met her Palmerston North- based fiancée and headed north to be with her. The couple have two sons, Réme and Tane, and also share their home with senior cat Monty and miniature pinscher puppy Koda.
“When I moved, I decided to use the time while looking for a job and finding new horses to trim to obtain the farrier certificate from Telford.”
While keeping her hand in with a couple of barefoot trimming clients, Wendy also found work as a parking officer with the Palmerston North City Council.
“Animal management officers worked then in the same area and I became interested in the role as I feel it is an essential service to keep both the public and animals safe by ensuring compliance in regards to keeping dogs.”
Wendy explored relevant qualifications and chose to study the New Zealand Certificate in Animal Care (Level 3) through SIT2LRN.
“I really enjoyed the flexibility of distance learning and found both courses interesting, challenging, stimulating yet obtainable with other commitments.”
Wendy has submitted her certificate and academic transcript to her managers and received congratulations and the chance to explore the animal control role. Her current role is also providing valuable experience.
“This job has given me the experience in working with a diverse array of members of the public and dealing with a variety of situations. I believe these skills will benefit my transition into my desired role."
“I have recently been told by my managers I will be having training days with the animal management team. This is very exciting, and I believe my goal to be an animal management officer will be reached in due time.