A volunteering story by: Jicole Martinez

I learned to care for animals in the boarding area, client animals in the beginning. When I started I would vacuum and mop all the floors sometimes a couple times a week. I would clean up Urine, Vomit, Blood and Feces. I would also learn to deep clean sanitize the hospital. I learned to clean surgical instruments and surgical gowns and towels. I would get down on my hands and knees and scrub the floors with scrub brushes and then go over it with a wire tooth brush. I learned how to use a dish washer as I never had one before and was used to hand washing dishes. I would clean all the glass and mirrors as well as the bathroom throughout the day. After cleaning I would take care of the animals left in our care some were boarding some were there for medical procedures. I would walk the dogs and puppies out back of our building to use the bathroom and let them stretch their legs. After walking all the animals staying in the kennel area we would feed them all and give them fresh bedding. Then I would start on cleaning cat cages or soiled cages from the dogs. First I’d disinfect the cages by spraying it with surgical scrub cleaner, than i’d wipe down all the sides, top and bottom of the cages along with the cage doors. Than we would place bedding and newspaper on the bottom of the cages. As I became more involved I began watching and then Surgeries and helping out assisting the Dr. in the exam rooms with the clients and their pets.

The Inspiration

I was inspired as a very little girl to be a Veterinarian to help save animals in need of help. I grew up wanting to be a Veterinarian or a Zoo Keeper. I wanted to help where ever I could with animals even if it was going to be gross and messy. I saw that many animals need medical care and many owners are unable to afford proper Veterinary Care. At 11 years old I lost my best friend a Chow Chow who died of cancer. We had told the Veterinarian a few times before the visit that diagnosed her with cancer that we felt a mass in her stomach. After months of worrying about this mass we felt in out dog’s stomach we brought her again to the veterinarian’s again. It was then that we were informed that our dog had a lethal mass growing in her stomach interfering with her organs. It was then that I knew I wanted to help people by helping them with their pets. I wanted to be a Vet so I could help people fight these illness with their animals before they become inoperable. I guess I felt like when I become a Veterinarian I will listen to owners concerns and take them seriously. I felt that the Veterinarian that diagnosed my dog had dropped the ball on our dog’s case. I felt if he listened to us sooner we might have been able to surgically remove the tumor before it became lethal. The first week volunteering was a huge slap of reality to me. I learned quickly how much hard work it is to really own and care for animals correctly. I wanted to help people so less people would go through the hell that my family did when being ignored by our Veterinarian about our legitimate concerns for the health of our family dog.

The Aha! moment…

I learned a huge dose of Reality. That there are Good and Bad people everywhere in this world. I lived and volunteered in same small town. It is High class, and expensive. So given that I was in a rich area I expected people to spend the money on their animals. I learned quickly that money didn’t matter or social status. There were really rich people who were very frugal and didn’t want to pay for any care for their pets. There are also homeless and underprivileged people who would spend their last dime on their pets. I learned to not judge a book by it’s cover. I learned what True Love and compassion is. I learned how to convey those emotions to my clients and patients. I realized how much goes into volunteering. The hospital needed help cleaning everywhere. The Floors, the Walls the equipment, the towels, the surgery gowns and towels. Dusting and restocking the shelves and the creaks and corners. I also would clean up after client pets that made messes in the parking lot or the lobby. I learned how to take care of other animals other than just dogs. I learned about Vaccines and what they were for and where to give them. I learned how to properly restrain cats and dogs in a variety of different positions for different uses. How to keep the Dr. or other technician safe from the animal so that we can administer treatment. I learned different cat, dog, small animal and bird breeds and species. I got so learn more about preventative health measures to apply to your pets to help them make it to their senior years.

To summarize it in three words…

  • Hard work, Control, Acceptance.

Why should you do this

I recommend people volunteer to get a different point of view. If I did not volunteer I would never have realized the hard work that goes on behind the scenes at a Veterinary Hospital. Most people would think that all I do is play with animals all day as a volunteer at a Veterinary Hospital. I learned when I volunteered that Yes part of my job includes interacting with animals of all ages. I spend 85% of the time actually cleaning some pretty gross stuff and learning customer service skills to interact and help the clients. I never realized how much cleaning and repetitive tasks are needed while working in this profession.

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