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CEO Roundup: A Challenging Week For The Home

Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home Interim CEO, Lindsay Fyffe-Jardine, looks back on an incredibly challenging week that has brought both staff and supporters together.

Monday 16th March
A typical Monday at the Home is not often found but today particularly feels different with the impact of what coronavirus might bring. The organisation is already having to change to be able to adjust to what will come in the days and weeks ahead. I’m meeting with all of my senior managers to adapt the plans we have spent the past few weeks developing to this unprecedented threat. Our main focus is how we can ensure our animal care work can be consistently delivered and I’m already turning my attention to looking out my own welly boots in the likely event I will be in the kennels myself making up feeds and cleaning out pens.

I know the team are apprehensive, you can feel it in the static of the air, but under the circumstances all I can do is reassure them we’ll get through this together. Outside of our dogs and cats they matter the most to help us rebuild.

Tomorrow is another day but with this virus who knows what that will bring.

Tuesday 17th March
Well Boris changed the plan last night; a late-night senior management team call and we’re running on the next phase of our plan this morning. We’re looking at how we can re-deploy staff across other departments to help cover kennel and cattery sickness as that appears. It’s a good thing we already planned in how many staff we would need to cover everything.

I’ve worked in my past in some scary disaster zones and been involved in high risk disaster response scenario’s; but I never thought I would be sitting in a CEO chair in the UK putting in place phased closure plans to protect our people and animals from a public health pandemic. All I know is that I want to keep the organisation open for as long as is safe as we need to able to keep public funding coming in the door for as long as possible.

Wednesday 18th March
‘War team era’ are the words that ring in my head. I didn’t think I would hear that in my lifetime in the UK. While I’m concerned for our team and our animals, I know there are so many vulnerable people and animals out there struggling. I know that our organisation needs to survive to help them rebuild or find a new home once we’re out of the worst of this.

Today we’re moving to partial closure of the Home, it’s with a heavy heart but it allows us to protect the team better and still allow us to rehome our dogs and cats in need. The idea of the dogs and cats being kept on site for a longer period of time than necessary without the search for a Home is hard to take. However, that’s where our enrichment programme will really come into its own with the use of kongs, lick matts, different music and catnip.

Thursday 19th March
At the end of yesterday I held my first workplace live streaming organisational meeting-I must admit sitting and waiting to press the button to ‘go live’ I felt a sense of anticipation of how would my message to the organisation would be received and would the team feel better from hearing from me through such a different style of team meeting?

I was overwhelmed with the positive response and engagement from across the team. I in fact became quite awestruck towards the end of the broadcast reading the messages of support and seeing how bolstered and good the team felt. It made me realise that even with social distancing we didn’t all need to be in the same room or place to be at home with each other….the power of good people and modern technology coming together!

Friday 20th March
Walking around the Home’s site in the sunshine lulls me into a fall sense of security this morning. Hard to believe we’re facing what we’re facing and dealing with what we’re dealing with when spring feels like its nearly here. Watching my incredibly resilient and hard-working team whizz around site and adapting to our new rehoming by phone set up fills me with pride! I’m also blown away by the continuing wave of people who want to give love and companionship to dogs and cats in need and while I’m writing this, I’m hearing a member of my team on the phone book in a rehoming time slot for tomorrow. We always say here at the Home “where there is hope for a home we will always keep looking”, this saying couldn’t be any truer than it is this week with the first partial closure in our history. This week has been the strangest of my time at the Home, I only wonder what next week will bring for us, our cats and our dogs. Tune in to find out.

Lindsay Fyffe-Jardine


Lindsay is CEO at Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home, having previously held the role of Director of Operations and Deputy to the CEO. She has extensive past experience in the humanitarian and animal welfare sectors, working across security, international disaster management and operations.

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