Don’t apply if you expect to only play with cute puppies and nice kittens all day. First off, we see pretty much all critters. Well, no raccoons, skunks, poisonous snakes or monkeys. The “poisonous” snakes does not include all dangerous animals by the way. Venomous lizards, finger breaking cockatoos, snarling dogs and vicious cats are all fair game. This is part of the reason that we drug test before hiring and again randomly. Just like you shouldn’t drive under the influence, avoiding getting bitten is more difficult when impaired. Please, don’t waste our time or money if you won’t pass the drug test. We will not be hiring you.
Even if the critter isn’t trying to eat you, there are things happening to them that are not pleasant. If you apply, expect unpleasant smells. Currently it is maggot season. Maggots in our area only eat dead tissue, so they help the animal. Maggots move in and out of the tissue cleaning up the dead bits of the animal. Dead tissue has a characteristic smell though. It is not pleasant!
Yes, urine and poop smell, but have you considered the full and complete smell of a parvo necropsy after three days buried in the summer? Don’t think that smell rule applies to you. While you might go home smelling from here, you cannot smoke or vape or use a lot of perfume or smell of anything that would upset the dogs or cats or kill the birds.
If you apply, expect stuff from animals. Did I mention body fluids? Expect to be urinated on daily. There may be some poo. Don’t apply if you cannot handle fluids. You might even come to expect hair in your coffee or soda. Speaking of drinks, expect to see that $6 coffee drink go down the drain, if I find it near the fecal analysis station. Not only is that gross, but it is potentially deadly. We do have rules and safety standards. And there are specific places for food and drink.
I’m sorry, but some animals die and some animals are better off if they do die. Given that owners are choosing to bring animals in for care and they have the ability to chose not to bring them in, you have to be respectful. You have to be compassionate. There will be times that you think animals have not been adequately cared for. It is difficult. You may cry. You may cuss or use gallows humor if there aren’t clients around. We often do all of these things, but you must continue with your job.
I would reassess your desire for this job, if you are sedentary. You are not going to sit around all day. Actually, don’t think you get to sit ever. Sometimes pee breaks are challenging even. If you do chose to, you can sit to pee, if there is time. Expect to answer questions through the door. On days that there is time, expect to clean and organize and file and catch up. In short, we work here. Oh, you may have to schedule surgery if your cell phone needs to be surgically excised. You won’t have time for it to be used here. “You got time to lean, you got time to clean.”
Don’t apply if you think you get to leave when we close to the public. Around here animals come first. Whatever didn’t get done during that day that you didn’t have time to pee has to be done before you leave. Animal must be taken care of before we leave.
There are certain things for every job that just have to be done. Don’t apply for the receptionist position if you cannot count money or keep track of the payments. The day sheet must be run at the end of the day and it must be right. If it isn’t right, you have to check every transaction to fix it. Owners don’t like to be overcharged. Likewise, we cannot afford to not get paid.
Don’t apply if you cannot do active learning. We have protocols and procedures for everything, but you won’t be able to survive if you are looking them up all the time. The best way is to watch your trainer and always be thinking what are they doing that I could do? Then you need to do what it takes to learn to do that.
Don’t apply if you don’t have common sense. We have a mission statement, it guides everything. If you come up with a situation that has not come up before (think cockroach with broken leg that is on the way in a taxi from Huntington), you may not have time to ask someone. We expect some mistakes and if you can justify how it fits into the mission statement, we will guide you toward the ruling portion of the mission statement.
Don’t apply if you cannot say no. You cannot help everyone. The Kentucky Veterinary Board of Examiners has very specific guidelines about the practice of veterinary medicine. This must be done under the confines of a valid veterinary patient relationship. That means that even if you do know (or think you know) how to treat parvo at home when the owners have no money, if you tell them, it is the practice of veterinary medicine and I can be held liable and/or lose my license even if nothing really goes wrong. As Andy says “you can’t be doing that.” Besides, I am amazed at how often I think I know exactly what is going on from the owner’s description and I find something totally different on exam. Talking with an owner is very different than communicating with a trained professional.
Before you apply, check your skin thickness. Thin skin is not a good trait here. Pets are family members and we see pets when they are sick, hurt or dying. It goes almost without saying that the best way to stress anyone is to have their pet or child sick, in danger or even dying or dead. Add in the aspect of finances and we often see people at their worst. Don’t think your team members might not have some stress also and occasionally direct some harsh words at you. Actually, expect some harsh words from me if you deviate from the mission statement or slack on animal care.
Don’t apply if you are not honest. There is an arrest warrant out for a ex-staff member who thought it was alright to “borrow” money from the cash box. Also, a lie is grounds for immediate dismissal. My clients expect to be able to trust me. That trust is built on decades of honesty. I cannot be honest without knowing the full and complete truth. There will be mistakes-nobody expects perfection, own those mistakes, learn and we can move on. Lie and you will be history. I consider it one of the cardinal sins.
Of course, there are good things, we get to feel like a hero when we save lives. We help people through tough times. We see some amazing animals and pretty cool people. Everyday we each learn something, teach something and accomplish something. We work with each other to make things work and we do get breaks. Maybe not how we had really thought it would work, but somehow where things fit together. We are hiring.