I am an… animal behaviour consultant
Laura Stone’s passion for animal welfare has driven her to achieve a huge amount since graduating in 2011. Not only does she run her own consultancy business, she has gained a Master’s degree, is training to be a teacher, and works for her local college. Lack of motivation is not a problem for this 24-year-old from Leicestershire!
First things first, though. Why did she feel Harper Adams was the right university to kick start a career working with animals? “It was the rural location, the small lecture group numbers, the good variety of animals for practical experience, and the close contact with lecturers. They were really easy to talk to, they know you as an individual, and they’re very helpful. We students were able to experience a range of animal species and subjects such as behaviour, health, and welfare to enable us to decide which area we enjoyed most or would like to move in to post study.”
Laura, who studied BSc (Hons) Animal Behaviour and Welfare, also met “lifelong friends” and her partner at the university, and that’s not all. “The Raise and Give (RAG) team supported a cause I was passionate about and helped me with a financial donation towards two months volunteering in a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation reserve in South Africa.”
It also helped her to realise what she wanted to do after graduating – a learning curve that her work placement year helped to clarify. “I worked as an animal collection officer for the North Devon Animal Ambulance. I attended call-outs to sick, injured or abandoned wild or domestic animals, and got involved with behavioural assessments, as well as kennel and cattery management. I loved every minute. Each day I experienced something new. It gave me a lot more hands-on experience, skills such as time management, empathy, and communication with members of the public.”
Laura’s even busier these days, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. “Since graduating from Harper Adams I gained an MSc in Clinical Animal Behaviour at the University of Lincoln. My interest in clinical behaviour was first noticed during my final year at Harper Adams when focusing more on welfare and behaviour modules. Guest speakers offered inspiration for me to learn more.
“Since graduating from the Master’s degree I have since started my own business, a canine and feline training and behaviour consultancy based in Leicestershire. It’s called Making Tracks Animal Behaviour and Training Consultancy. My aim is to help owners understand their animals, and the ways in which they communicate and respond. I help to alter animals’ emotional states to enable them to cope and live in the modern world, and to rekindle relationships and strengthen bonds between animals and owners. I aim to help young animals have the best start in life through correct advice/training techniques, and to help reduce behaviour problems to try and reduce the number of animals relinquished to rehoming shelters.”
Laura adds: “I offer free behavioural advice and guidance to two Spanish canine welfare organisations to help the transition of rescue animals from Spain into new homes in the UK and abroad be as successful and trouble free as possible.”
Laura also works part-time as a Training Officer and Animal Unit Supervisor in Animal Care at Brooksby Melton College, where she has also been delivering lectures in animal behaviour. “I love sharing my knowledge with students, and teaching subject areas that I am passionate about.” To enable her to expand on her lecturing work Laura has also begun a PGDE in conjunction with Bolton University to gain qualified teacher status.