Making sure pets are safe and healthy requires serious training and a love of animals. At one area clinic, staff have plenty of both.
By Jet Skoufalos | April 26, 2018
Armani, 6, stood confidently on the hip of veterinary technician Angel Vazquez, and waited for his dressing to be changed.
The Jack Russell terrier had had a mass removed from his neck and his teeth cleaned.
Office manager Nicole Oberholtzer finished wrapping Armani’s leg, and the little dog scampered to his owner.
Then the two technicians hurried over to their next case.
This is a typical patient visit at The Collingswood Veterinary Hospital. Everyone there wants to keep animals safe. Guinea pigs, ferrets, rabbits, cats and dogs, the clinic takes care of them all.
The staff comes from different parts of the country, even different countries. Veterinarian Khalid Munir, is a native of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; technician Jennifer Skoufalos is from Montreal, Quebec. Oberholtzer is from Florida, and Vazquez is from nearby Camden City.
Some have worked in animal care for decades; receptionist Emilee Chamberlain has only worked nine months.
From receptionist to doctor, everyone brings different skills to the job: grooming, surgery, or greeting patients and making them feel warm and welcome.
“I enjoy running this place,” Dr. Munir said.
“It is challenging, but I meet about 20 new clients a day.”
Everybody in the clinic has their own favorite rescue story. Jennifer Skoufalos remembered caring for a German shepherd who had just been hit by a car.
“His owner rushed in, carrying him,” she said. “He was in bad shape, very bloody, and one back leg had been de-gloved—this means all of the skin was torn off.
“At first we thought that the leg would have to be amputated,” Jennifer Skoufalos said.
“For four hours, the vet and tech worked very hard while I comforted him with his front and head resting on my lap.
“We saved the leg, and with bandages and medicine, he was good as new in a few months.”
Chamberlain remembered an 18-and-a-half-year-old beagle that had been adopted as a puppy from Pennsylvania University after he was used for testing.
“He got sick as a puppy,” she said. “The doctor thought he wouldn’t make it past six months of age, but with good care, he is a healthy senior dog.”
With good care, owners can help their pets live long lives. Grooming is important, too: dogs should be bathed every month, and brushing teeth and cleaning ears also helps.
“Prevention is key,” Jennifer Skoufalos said.
“Vaccines prevent animals from contracting a variety of serious illnesses, some of which can be passed to people.”
If you want to work at a vet clinic, you have to go through years of serious training.
But if you like taking care of pets, this is a job where you can make a difference in the world.
Correspondent Jet Skoufalos, 8, writes from the NJ Pen Take Your Child to Work Desk.
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