Hi, my name is Lindsay Cross and I run the Animal School from the heart of the countryside in Sussex. I am currently looking after: guinea pigs, rabbits, hamsters, mice, rats, chinchillas, gerbils, chipmunks, ferrets, snakes, geckos, bearded dragons, tortoises, terrapins, snails, cockroaches, tarantulas, pigeons, chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, llamas and Banjo the Macaw. This is a menagerie with a purpose, the creatures were donated and rescued and are used to promote responsible pet keeping. The most incredible part of my job is seeing how the animals affect the people we visit.
Animal School is used regularly by the NHS, Care UK and Scope to visit lonely and vulnerable people. We are also used by numerous care homes across Sussex for animal visits. We are also an education company working with children and schools. We provide handling sessions and lectures for anything appropriate for the animals. The weekly evening and after school clubs are relaxing sessions where most rescue animals are initially tamed.
Animal School began life as an after-school club at the local pet shop where I worked. I was concerned that animals were not being properly socialised before being bought and I needed people power to get all the hamsters, rabbits, guinea pigs and mice held. I also thought that children were not properly trained in holding the animals and so I created a regular group to practise handling animals. This club resulted in the taming and training of numerous children and pets.
I am passionate about all animals and as I began rescuing animals I got insurance that enabled me to take these animals into schools and clubs for the purpose of education. This is now my full time job.
The animals were teaching me all the time both how to look after and handle them. They even created the format of handling endorsed by Animal School – sitting on the cushions originally meant for children. Carrying round the animals on these cushions made them feel safe and Animal School evolved again to visit old people’s homes, special needs schools, hospitals and prisons.
From its humble beginnings with one rabbit and a box of locusts, Animal School now has around 120 rescue animals, the biggest ambassadors being: Chief the ferret, Banjo the macaw and Arnold the pug.
I have been blessed in my living situation to live on a large farm where these animals have large enclosures, lots of friends and volunteers to help clean and entertain them.
I have been trained as an animal healer by Elizabeth Whiter and am a graduate of the Healing Animals Organisation. The HAO has supported Animal School with fundraising, which has helped me to keep up to date with vaccinations, food bills and improvements to the animals’ enclosures and my school. The latest building project is an enormous pigeon and chipmunk aviary. I have also just completed the healing and taming workshop where I hope clients can visit with their pets.
Animal School rescues and rehomes small rodents on a case by case basis, assists in training and taming other peoples’ pet rodents and rabbits and works with Deano’s Snake Shack Rescue to rehome reptiles and amphibians.
To find out more about Animal School, visit…..