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Veterinarian Assistant: Working in an Animal Shelter

About this video 

Kaitlin is a Veterinarian Assistant at the Peninsula Humane Society in Northern California. Kaitlin duties include taking in stray and surrendered animals and treating animals that are sick or injured.

Degree: Veterinary Medicine
Job Title: Veterinarian Assistant
Employer: Peninsula Human Society

Job Summary: Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers

Job Description

Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers do many daily tasks, such as feeding, weighing, and taking the temperature of animals. Other routine duties may include giving medication, cleaning cages, or providing nursing care before and after surgery or other medical procedures.

Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers play a large role in helping veterinarians and scientists with surgery and other procedures. They may prepare equipment and pass surgical instruments and materials to veterinarians during surgery. They may also move animals and hold or restrain them during testing and other procedures.

Veterinary assistants work mainly in clinics and animal hospitals, helping veterinarians or veterinary technicians and technologists treat the injuries and illnesses of animals.

Laboratory animal caretakers work in laboratories under the supervision of a veterinarian, scientist, veterinary technician, or veterinary technologist. Their daily tasks include feeding animals, cleaning kennels, and monitoring the general well-being of laboratory animals.

On-the-Job Training

Most skills for this role are learned on the job.

Additional Info

Most veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers are trained on the job, but some employers prefer candidates who already have experience working with animals.

Certification Requirement
Recommended by the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS). Not mandatory.

Quick Facts

Average salary
Average salary
National Statistic Change Location
Confirm
$15,000 - $35,000
Projected job growth
Projected Job Growth
10 to 20 percent
Typical schedule
Typical schedule
Full-time, Irregular
Typical workplace
Typical workplace
Office, Outdoor, Indoor, Hospital / Clinic
Personal qualities
Personal Qualities
Teamwork, People skills, Empathy, Likes working with hands

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P3.instances[0].transcript.parse_transcript_data({"transcript":"<p><span m='800'>My</span> <span m='930'>name</span> <span m='1130'>is</span> <span m='1270'>Kaitlyn.</span> <span m='1800'>I</span> <span m='1900'>work</span> <span m='2090'>at</span> <span m='2190'>the</span> <span m='2350'>Peninsula</span> <span m='2820'>Humane</span> <span m='3190'>society</span> <span m='3930'>in San</span> <span m='4220'>Mateo,</span> <span m='4690'>California,</span> <span m='5490'>and</span> <span m='5830'>I</span> <span m='6280'>am a</span> <span m='6500'>vet assistant.</span> <span m='8280'>So,</span> <span m='8580'>at</span> <span m='8730'>the</span> <span m='8820'>shelter,</span> <span m='9720'>we</span> <span m='10220'>intake</span> <span m='10700'>animals</span> <span m='11270'>from</span> <span m='11470'>San</span> <span m='11740'>Mateo</span> <span m='11980'>County.</span> <span m='12530'>We</span> <span m='12730'>take</span> <span m='13020'>in</span> <span m='13220'>stray</span> <span m='13530'>animals</span> <span m='14120'>and</span> <span m='14430'>we</span> <span m='14560'>take</span> <span m='14790'>in</span> <span m='14890'>owner-surrender</span> <span m='15550'>animals.</span> <span m='16620'>On</span> <span m='16880'>a</span> <span m='16980'>daily</span> <span m='17210'>basis,</span> <span m='18190'>as</span> <span m='18350'>a</span> <span m='18500'>vet assistant,</span> <span m='19230'>I</span> <span m='19460'>am</span> <span m='19650'>working</span> <span m='20000'>the</span> <span m='20020'>receiving</span> <span m='20510'>counter,</span> <span m='21220'>taking</span> <span m='21550'>in</span> <span m='21710'>the</span> <span m='21820'>animals.</span> <span m='23010'>I</span> <span m='23180'>am</span> <span m='23330'>also</span> <span m='24360'>doing</span> <span m='24660'>the</span> <span m='24740'>treatments</span> <span m='25260'>for</span> <span m='25370'>all</span> <span m='25470'>the</span> <span m='25580'>animals</span> <span m='25900'>we</span> <span m='26030'>have</span> <span m='26240'>at</span> <span m='26360'>the</span> <span m='26440'>shelter.</span> <span m='27080'>We</span> <span m='27250'>have</span> <span m='27600'>over</span> <span m='27940'>300</span> <span m='28420'>animals</span> <span m='28810'>at</span> <span m='28940'>this</span> <span m='29150'>point.</span> <span m='30120'>They</span> <span m='30380'>all</span> <span m='30600'>need</span> <span m='30750'>to</span> <span m='30800'>be</span> <span m='30950'>treated</span> <span m='31460'>at</span> <span m='31580'>least</span> <span m='31840'>twice</span> <span m='32159'>a</span> <span m='32220'>day.</span> <span m='33080'>When</span> <span m='33290'>I'm</span> <span m='33380'>not</span> <span m='33680'>on the</span> <span m='33730'>shelter</span> <span m='34130'>side,</span> <span m='34520'>we</span> <span m='34760'>also</span> <span m='34950'>have</span> <span m='35120'>a</span> <span m='35190'>spay-neuter</span> <span m='35810'>clinic</span> <span m='36730'>in</span> <span m='36890'>our</span> <span m='36990'>facility.</span> <span m='38280'>There</span> <span m='38500'>are</span> <span m='38690'>days</span> <span m='39100'>when</span> <span m='39560'>we</span> <span m='39810'>will</span> <span m='39970'>be</span> <span m='40850'>surgery</span> <span m='41300'>assistants.</span> <span m='42040'>So</span> <span m='42220'>we</span> <span m='42380'>will</span> <span m='42720'>assist</span> <span m='43210'>the</span> <span m='43510'>RVTs</span> <span m='44490'>and</span> <span m='44690'>veterinarians</span> <span m='45780'>with</span> <span m='45960'>the</span> <span m='46060'>animals</span> <span m='46560'>who</span> <span m='46640'>are</span> <span m='46730'>getting</span> <span m='46960'>spayed</span> <span m='47335'>and neutered.</span> </p><p><span m='48420'>My</span> <span m='48580'>biology</span> <span m='49050'>classes</span> <span m='49480'>in</span> <span m='49580'>high</span> <span m='49740'>school--</span> <span m='50900'>I</span> <span m='51560'>really</span> <span m='51960'>enjoyed</span> <span m='52400'>learning</span> <span m='53810'>about</span> <span m='54360'>animal's</span> <span m='54880'>physiology,</span> <span m='55760'>their</span> <span m='55920'>evolution.</span> <span m='57400'>And</span> <span m='57490'>that</span> <span m='57690'>led</span> <span m='57920'>me</span> <span m='58110'>to</span> <span m='58370'>then</span> <span m='58610'>major</span> <span m='58960'>in</span> <span m='59090'>animal</span> <span m='59400'>science.</span> <span m='60600'>And</span> <span m='60920'>then</span> <span m='61910'>I</span> <span m='64180'>did</span> <span m='64400'>an</span> <span m='64680'>internship</span> <span m='65330'>at</span> <span m='65510'>that</span> <span m='65700'>Monterrey</span> <span m='65990'>Bay</span> <span m='66170'>Aquarium,</span> <span m='67170'>working</span> <span m='67590'>with</span> <span m='67780'>otters,</span> <span m='68660'>and</span> <span m='68830'>then</span> <span m='68980'>I</span> <span m='69100'>also</span> <span m='69380'>did</span> <span m='69620'>volunteer</span> <span m='70170'>work</span> <span m='70710'>with</span> <span m='70960'>wildlife</span> <span m='71670'>before</span> <span m='71990'>I</span> <span m='72020'>got</span> <span m='72220'>hired</span> <span m='72530'>here.</span> <span m='74010'>I</span> <span m='74130'>wish</span> <span m='74430'>I</span> <span m='74510'>knew</span> <span m='74850'>how</span> <span m='76050'>emotionally</span> <span m='76690'>charged</span> <span m='77210'>working</span> <span m='77390'>at</span> <span m='77560'>a</span> <span m='77600'>shelter</span> <span m='78020'>can</span> <span m='78360'>be.</span> <span m='79480'>Owners</span> <span m='79850'>can</span> <span m='80060'>be</span> <span m='80200'>very</span> <span m='81090'>emotional</span> <span m='81600'>when</span> <span m='81760'>surrendering</span> <span m='82430'>pets</span> <span m='82810'>to</span> <span m='83000'>us.</span> <span m='83670'>So</span> <span m='83840'>not</span> <span m='84110'>only</span> <span m='84410'>is</span> <span m='84610'>this</span> <span m='84900'>a</span> <span m='85040'>medically-based</span> <span m='87100'>career</span> <span m='87390'>path,</span> <span m='88050'>but</span> <span m='88140'>keep</span> <span m='88370'>in</span> <span m='88460'>mind</span> <span m='88720'>working</span> <span m='89010'>at</span> <span m='89120'>a</span> <span m='89170'>shelter,</span> <span m='89700'>you</span> <span m='89870'>will</span> <span m='90160'>also</span> <span m='90720'>need</span> <span m='90970'>to</span> <span m='91870'>handle</span> <span m='92330'>difficult</span> <span m='92740'>situations</span> <span m='93460'>with</span> <span m='93670'>people.</span> </p><p><span m='95810'>I</span> <span m='95970'>like</span> <span m='96160'>the</span> <span m='96250'>variety</span> <span m='96870'>of</span> <span m='97480'>medical</span> <span m='97890'>cases</span> <span m='98360'>that</span> <span m='98460'>we</span> <span m='98560'>get</span> <span m='98770'>into</span> <span m='99010'>the</span> <span m='99110'>shelter.</span> <span m='100580'>I</span> <span m='101330'>dislike,</span> <span m='102020'>though,</span> <span m='102400'>seeing</span> <span m='103380'>the</span> <span m='103690'>worst</span> <span m='104040'>kinds</span> <span m='104330'>of</span> <span m='104390'>medical</span> <span m='104680'>cases</span> <span m='105070'>where</span> <span m='105180'>the</span> <span m='105360'>animal</span> <span m='105610'>is</span> <span m='105720'>neglected</span> <span m='106410'>by</span> <span m='106600'>their</span> <span m='106800'>owner</span> <span m='107110'>and</span> <span m='107420'>has</span> <span m='107710'>been</span> <span m='108780'>left</span> <span m='109170'>to</span> <span m='109270'>fend</span> <span m='109500'>for</span> <span m='109590'>themselves</span> <span m='110270'>and</span> <span m='110420'>they</span> <span m='110530'>end</span> <span m='110760'>up</span> <span m='110900'>here</span> <span m='111120'>at</span> <span m='111600'>our</span> <span m='111800'>shelter,</span> <span m='112290'>suffering.</span> <span m='115010'>Choosing</span> <span m='115450'>to</span> <span m='116310'>continue</span> <span m='116800'>to</span> <span m='116880'>work</span> <span m='117170'>hands-on</span> <span m='117320'>with</span> <span m='117630'>animals</span> <span m='118060'>after</span> <span m='118390'>college,</span> <span m='119810'>I</span> <span m='120660'>worked</span> <span m='121310'>unpaid</span> <span m='121970'>for</span> <span m='122180'>about</span> <span m='122400'>a</span> <span m='122450'>year.</span> <span m='122940'>That</span> <span m='123090'>was</span> <span m='123220'>my</span> <span m='123360'>internship</span> <span m='124010'>at</span> <span m='124180'>the</span> <span m='124370'>Aquarium.</span> <span m='125260'>And</span> <span m='125490'>then,</span> <span m='126170'>at</span> <span m='126320'>the</span> <span m='126400'>same</span> <span m='126690'>time,</span> <span m='127100'>I</span> <span m='127190'>was</span> <span m='127360'>volunteering</span> <span m='128380'>with</span> <span m='128639'>a</span> <span m='128780'>variety</span> <span m='129289'>of</span> <span m='129380'>animals</span> <span m='130080'>at</span> <span m='130289'>the</span> <span m='130419'>SPCA</span> <span m='131290'>in</span> <span m='131420'>Monterrey,</span> <span m='132230'>working</span> <span m='132560'>with</span> <span m='132710'>wildlife.</span> <span m='133940'>So</span> <span m='134210'>definitely</span> <span m='135110'>just</span> <span m='135410'>getting</span> <span m='135730'>the</span> <span m='135770'>hands-on</span> <span m='136110'>experience</span> <span m='136750'>with</span> <span m='137000'>a</span> <span m='137810'>variety</span> <span m='138350'>of</span> <span m='138450'>animals</span> <span m='139830'>helped</span> <span m='140020'>me</span> <span m='140140'>get</span> <span m='140290'>to</span> <span m='140360'>this</span> <span m='140530'>point.</span> </p><p><span m='142650'>This</span> <span m='143600'>industry--</span> <span m='145140'>there's</span> <span m='145380'>a</span> <span m='145440'>lot</span> <span m='145660'>of</span> <span m='146160'>competition</span> <span m='146880'>because</span> <span m='147030'>a</span> <span m='147100'>lot</span> <span m='147290'>of</span> <span m='147340'>people</span> <span m='147600'>want</span> <span m='147880'>to</span> <span m='148040'>work</span> <span m='148250'>with</span> <span m='148380'>animals.</span> <span m='149250'>And</span> <span m='149390'>what's</span> <span m='149560'>going</span> <span m='149660'>to</span> <span m='149750'>set</span> <span m='150000'>you</span> <span m='150130'>apart</span> <span m='152710'>really</span> <span m='153130'>is</span> <span m='153290'>your</span> <span m='153410'>volunteer</span> <span m='153880'>experience.</span> <span m='154820'>Education</span> <span m='155350'>helps.</span> <span m='155650'>That's</span> <span m='155890'>great</span> <span m='156140'>if</span> <span m='156230'>you</span> <span m='156340'>want</span> <span m='156510'>to</span> <span m='156560'>pursue</span> <span m='157440'>more</span> <span m='157710'>education.</span> <span m='158900'>That's</span> <span m='159580'>wonderful.</span> <span m='161750'>But</span> <span m='162070'>also</span> <span m='162380'>having</span> <span m='162820'>that</span> <span m='163040'>hands-on</span> <span m='163410'>experience</span> <span m='163910'>with</span> <span m='164020'>the</span> <span m='164120'>animals</span> <span m='164490'>helps</span> <span m='164670'>set</span> <span m='164970'>you</span> <span m='165150'>apart.</span> <span m='168380'>I</span> <span m='168540'>was</span> <span m='168790'>given</span> <span m='168990'>some really</span> <span m='169330'>great</span> <span m='169550'>advice</span> <span m='169940'>here.</span> <span m='170410'>Even</span> <span m='170690'>working</span> <span m='170950'>at</span> <span m='171060'>a</span> <span m='171100'>shelter</span> <span m='171520'>can</span> <span m='171720'>be</span> <span m='171840'>very</span> <span m='172070'>stressful.</span> <span m='173000'>Never</span> <span m='173280'>take</span> <span m='173500'>that</span> <span m='173660'>home</span> <span m='173890'>with</span> <span m='174040'>you.</span> <span m='174340'>Once</span> <span m='174560'>you</span> <span m='174660'>get</span> <span m='174880'>home,</span> <span m='175730'>you</span> <span m='175910'>turn</span> <span m='176200'>off</span> <span m='176610'>your</span> <span m='176900'>work</span> <span m='177190'>mode</span> <span m='177720'>and</span> <span m='179510'>value</span> <span m='179880'>that</span> <span m='180040'>time</span> <span m='180240'>with</span> <span m='180320'>your</span> <span m='180420'>family.</span> <span m='180800'>On</span> <span m='180920'>your</span> <span m='181030'>weekends,</span> <span m='181720'>make</span> <span m='181910'>the</span> <span m='182070'>effort</span> <span m='182450'>to</span> <span m='182520'>go</span> <span m='183420'>to</span> <span m='183880'>and</span> <span m='184060'>have</span> <span m='184670'>quality</span> <span m='185070'>time</span> <span m='185460'>with</span> <span m='185640'>family</span> <span m='186240'>and</span> <span m='186770'>friends.</span> <span m='188140'>I've</span> <span m='188340'>even</span> <span m='188600'>made</span> <span m='188790'>it</span> <span m='189310'>after</span> <span m='189660'>work</span> <span m='190280'>to</span> <span m='191560'>socialise</span> <span m='192240'>with</span> <span m='192420'>family</span> <span m='192800'>as</span> <span m='192910'>well.</span> </p>","file":{"id":451791,"video_id":"3693300416001","name":"2690-Kaitlyn-Veterinarian Assistant","duration":195267,"thumbnail_url":null}});