Q&A with Colin
OAVT: Where did you go to school and what made you decide to take a Veterinary Technology program?
Colin: I went to school at Georgian College (Orillia Campus). I chose the veterinary technology program because I wanted a hands-on career that I could use to make a direct impact on an individual animal’s wellbeing, and in doing so help a bigger problem at the same time (like spay-neuter clinics).
OAVT: What is your current job?What responsibilities are you given? What do you love about the job?
Colin: I’ve worked in the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College Large Animal Hospital wards for about 2 and a half years (and I’ve snuck into the avian-exotics department on occasion to help out there too)
I work with other RVTs, doctors, and vet students to administer the daily treatments required by the patients in the hospital or in the isolation unit. The patients can be emergent, medical, or pre/post-surgery. Combined with the avian and exotics department, I love the variety of the patients and cases that I get to help with and how much OVC has to offer that I wouldn’t get to experience anywhere else! They have a large animal isolation building, a whole department for diagnostic imaging, and so many other toys!
OAVT: What other jobs have you had in this field?
Colin: This is my first job in a medical large animal setting, but I also worked as a herdsperson at a dairy farm before school. During school, I did placements at the ZSL London Zoo’s vet department and an avian/exotics referral clinic in York, England.
OAVT: You also actively volunteer at spay and neuter clinics in Northern Ontario. Where exactly do you volunteer and what inspired you to volunteer?
Colin: The rescue that sent us North, Finding Them Homes in Barrie, runs these trips several times throughout the year. On my most recent trip, we (a team of 3 RVTs, a vet, a vet assistant, and 3 other volunteers) went to Keewaywin and Kingfisher Lake. I’ve also gone to Pic River and Fort Albany with the same rescue.
Conservation and outreach have always been my goals and I became an RVT so that I could play an important active role in helping animals that otherwise would receive very little or no help at all. When my supervisor first introduced me to Finding Them Homes and the great work they do I couldn’t wait to volunteer!
OAVT: Why do you think volunteering as an RVT is important or worthwhile? Do you have a favourite volunteer experience?
Colin: I think I’m right in saying that as a group of people passionate enough to endure pretty arduous training to learn a huge number of skills, we as RVTs feel we owe it to every single animal--from the clinic regular coming in for a vaccine appointment to the hyena in the middle of remote Africa with a snare around her leg-- to do everything we can to help the ones in need. Someone might choose to work near home and look after the animals of their own community or they might choose to go somewhere more distant and help the wildlife of a completely different country. Both are important and both are the result of RVTs feeling that motivation to look after the animals they love.
My favourite experience was being given the chance by the great people at Animal Experience International to spend a couple of months at Ishaqbini Hirola Community Conservancy in Kenya working with the rangers and the local community on anti-poaching, wildlife health, and to teach the local people about conservation, herd health, and domestic animals’ impact on the greater environment. Although, going to Hustai National Park in Mongolia through the same organization for the same purpose is a close second.
OAVT: What advice would you give to other RVTs who are looking to give back to their community?
Colin: I would say be imaginative and take initiative. Call, email, and message everywhere that might possibly have anything to do with animals, as RVTs we have the skills to work at all of them and even the smallest difference is still a difference.