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There are few opportunities for teenagers who want to become veterinary technicians or assistants. However, with a little creativity and persistence, there are ways to gain exposure to work in the field of veterinary medicine.
Humane Societies and Shelters
Many humane societies, shelters and rescue organizations accept teenagers as interns with parental supervision. Teens working in and around animal shelters will be asked to help clean kennels, scoop litter boxes and exercise dogs. These activities are all part of a beginning veterinary assistant's job. When it comes time to get a job in the field, the teen will already have some experience.
Some veterinary hospitals allow young interns to help out during the summer months. You should ask your family's veterinarian if he would hire you as an intern. He may agree so as to encourage a budding veterinary assistant. You will get experience in working with professional veterinary technicians and assistants, and see their workday firsthand.
Veterinarians who do not have a clinic but instead offer house-call services may hire a mature pre-teen or teenager. These veterinarians typically visit homes where the pet owner is too elderly to come to a clinic or where there are large kennels of dogs who need shots and examinations. A teenager working with a house-call veterinarian will learn numerous assistant duties, including how to safely restrain an animal and fill out county-required paperwork.
- Dr. Lorraine Kassarjian, DVM; Jupiter Home Veterinary Services; Jupiter, Florida
Michelle A. Rivera is the author of many books and articles. She attended the University of Missouri Animal Cruelty School and is certified with the Florida Animal Control Association. She is the executive director of her own nonprofit, Animals 101, Inc. Rivera is an animal-assisted therapist, humane educator, former shelter manager, rescue volunteer coordinator, dog trainer and veterinary technician.