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From RAF to ruff! New animal industry qualifications available to armed forces leavers

A leading animal grooming school is now offering an even wider range of courses to those leaving the armed forces.

The Four Paws Groom School’s courses in cat grooming, dog walking and pet sitting have recently been approved by the Ministry of Defence.

Those leaving the Army, Navy or RAF and are considering retraining in the animal sector can now choose from five different qualifications when considering their next steps.

They can opt for cat grooming, dog walking and pet sitting qualifications in addition to dog grooming and canine first aid – all of which are Ofqual-regulated.

Fern Gresty and Sarah Mackay, owners of Four Paws and awarding organisation iPET Network, said: “We’re thrilled to be able to offer an even bigger range of qualifications to those looking for a new career after serving in the armed forces.

“Those leaving the armed forces can be provided with up to £2,000 towards the cost of training for a new career.

“We understand that the prospect of starting a new job can be very daunting so the qualifications we offer provide all the training and skills required to have work with animals, which we both know is incredibly rewarding.

“Every one of our qualifications is specifically tailored to that particular sector and is delivered in settings across the country by our highly-experienced training providers.

“Those who have experience of the armed forces have a whole host of transferable skills and are a real asset to the animal sector. We’re looking forward to enrolling more of those capable and talented people on our courses in the coming months.”

Former Army dog handler Jessy Brown is choosing to retrain as a dog groomer after being medically discharged.

The 22 year-old from Northern Ireland is studying for the iPET Network Level 3 Diploma in Dog Grooming and Salon Management.

Jessy, who is taking the qualification at the Bone Idol Academy in Hove, said: “I’m getting medically discharged from the army because of an ongoing illness. It’s really sad, but positive at the same time because I think I am ready for something else and wanted to explore more career options.

“I’ve always worked with animals – before I was in the army I used to work at animal shelters. I’ve always been around dogs, and love going into work and being with dogs all day.

“That’s why I’ve chosen grooming as my next career option, it’s a natural transition, and I won’t miss the canine company I’ve come to enjoy so much.

“A typical day of training looks like this: You get in, and you are shown which dog you have for the morning. Then you get all your prep done, changing into an apron and then get started with a groom.

“Helen, my tutor always talks you through, and helps you make a plan, and asks you questions about the coat type. Is it a haircut or a breed standard, or a wash and tidy? And then you crack on!

“We usually have until about midday to do the groom. It is really interesting and that is just the morning!

“Before I started the course in my head I thought it was going to be loads and loads of classroom work, and then a little bit of grooming here and there. But it has been so hands on and it’s amazing. You are literally grooming dogs all day every day! You do have theory lessons, but they really make it as interesting. It has been brilliant.

“I think it’s really important to do the iPET Network qualification because this is a skilled job, and you are learning the proper way to do things.

“Important things like the proper ways to use your tools, and how to ensure a dog is always safe.  If you didn’t know those things, or didn’t know the industry standard way to do those things it could be dangerous.

“People who don’t do qualifications also wouldn’t know what we learn about the different coat types, and this can cause injury to the dogs.

“I think that the industry should be regulated, you need to have training to show that you can do the job, and for safety reasons. I was really shocked when I found out that dog grooming is an unregulated industry.”

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