Behind the scenes with Mel from the Heathrow Animal Reception Centre


By Chris Loy

Published 2nd June 2015

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The Heathrow Animal Reception Centre staff have one of the most envied jobs on the airport – getting to look after animals of all shapes and sizes that travel via Heathrow. Melissa Hart is one of the lucky staff members at HARC who has shared with us what it’s like behind the scenes and bit more about herself. Enjoy!

Mel has been working at HARC for 5 years after initially completely work experience at the centre while studying. In her spare time, Mel is loves going to the cinema and spending time with her dog Hudson, a two and a half year old American Akita. At work, Mel gets face-to-face with animals big and small from around at the world!

Favourite film/TV show?

Too many to choose from but Batman trilogy of films is up there.

Favourite band/music?

Again I can’t limit that to just one band. I enjoy a wide range of music from Britney Spears right through to System of a Down.

What’s your favourite part of the job?

Watching dogs being reunited with their owners, it’s just a joy to watch.

What are the favourite animals you’ve cared for?

Two toed Sloth and a Good fellows Tree Kangaroo

What is the most difficult thing about your job?

When animals fail the pet travel scheme and we have to send them to quarantine. It’s upsetting for the owner being separated from their pet for that period of time. That’s why it’s important to make sure your pet and their paperwork is prepared correctly for entry into the United Kingdom.

What would an average day include?

You can never be sure what’s going to happen at the HARC. Every day is different and full of surprises.

How did you get involved with HARC?

I had my work experience here while I was completing my degree in animal welfare and behaviour. I then worked here on a casual contract until my degree was finished and became a permanent member of the team.

HARC also shared with us some of their impressive 2014 animal stats!

Last year alone, HARC welcomed:

  • 28 million fish;
  • 16,000 dogs and cats;
  • 200,000 reptiles, and
  • 2000 birds.

The City of London Corporation runs the Heathrow Animal Reception Centre. For more information on HARC visit their website here, and follow all of their adorable animal pictures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


By Chris Loy

Published 2nd June 2015