News | 13 July 2023
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Council’s animal whisperer: Kate Baoumgren

Wellington City Council Animal Liaison Officer Kate Baoumgren has always gone above and beyond for animals. As a little girl, she would trek up and down her long farm road every day to rescue any kittens and puppies that had been dumped at the end of her driveway, then take them home to be nursed.

Woman sitting on the couch with three Cavalier King Charles Spaniels on her lap.
Kate with her dogs, Opie, Evie and Patsy.

While most parents would turn away stray animals, Kate’s parents encouraged her to care for them, even going as far as finding animals for her to look after, Kate says. 

“When my father was doing the morning checks on the animals and found an orphan lamb cold and hungry, he would wrap it up in a towel then place it in my bed while I was sleeping. I got used to waking up with animals in my bed screaming and hungry, then getting up and feeding it from a bottle! I was always nursing sick animals.”

As Kate grew older, she dabbled in different careers, working in cafes to movie sets like Lord of the Rings. 

Nothing clicked with her until she began working at Animates, where she met lots of like-minded people who cared about animals in the same way she did.

“At Animates, things started changing for me and it all clicked. One of the vet owners from a clinic needed someone to work at his pet shop/vet so I ended up getting my next role in there because I have a very deep knowledge of fish!” Kate laughs. 

“From there, I worked at multiple clinics across the city before I ended up meeting people from the Council's Dog Control team, where I then started working for nine years with a six-month break in between going back to the vet clinic to fill in for the manager. It helped me find the role I’m in now.”

Dogs Patsy and Opie show off their yellow ribbons
Opie and Patsy modelling for the Council yellow ribbon campaign.

When the role at Council came up for Animal Liaison Officer five years ago, it was the first of its kind for a Council in Aotearoa – and the perfect role for Kate to work with all sorts of animals and work towards improving their welfare, she says.

“I work in a split role with the Public Health team and the Urban Ecology team. Part of my role is inspections of dog kennels, daycares and groomers, and also dealing with animal complaints across the city – from roosters in backyards, bees, to turtles being dumped in Willowbank reserve in Tawa. 

“The other half of my role is managing the stray cat programme, where I work closely with cat rescues and help to humanely trap stray cats and kittens across the city. Almost any random job that comes through about animals – I deal with!”

Outside of work, Kate continues to care for animals and believes she will never stop doing what she can for them. 

“I have three Cavalier King Charles Spaniels at home and have always had dogs. In my time, I have fostered 11 kittens and one of my dogs, Opie, absolutely loved looking after them. We only stopped fostering kittens because he would get so upset when they left – so we got him another puppy to have around all the time!

“It makes me so happy to see them be rehomed and find their families. I just want to see animals have the best outcomes possible.”