Career Spotlight of the Month (August 2019)

Name: Kelsey Streef RVT, CCRP (Student), Bus dip.

Current Job: Owner, Willow Grove Animal Wellness Centre (near Woodstock, Ontario)


Q & A with Kelsey

OAVT: Where did you go to school, and what made you decide to take a Veterinary Technology program?

Kelsey: I went to school at Northern College in Haileybury, Ontario. I knew from a very young age that I was going to work with animals. I grew up in a very small farming community and was always fascinated about the animals on my friends’ farms as my family farm was strictly vegetables. In high school, when it was time to choose a career path, I decided to go for veterinary technology instead of the university route first to see where I fit in the best - whether it was in agriculture or working with pets.

OAVT: You own Willow Grove Animal Wellness Centre. What inspired you to start your own business? How long have you been in business?

Kelsey: I grew up with a family of entrepreneurs. Both of my parents, as well as my siblings, all own businesses so I knew quickly I wanted to follow suit.

I have been open since June 2019, so I am still extremely new to the public despite working on building my brand and business over the past two years. My family really inspired me to reach for the goals I set and work hard to achieve them so I would say the largest inspiration to follow my dreams of owning a business is within my family. I have an excellent set of role models and mentors that have helped me along the way and I can’t thank them all enough for everything they have done for me.


OAVT: What kind of services do you offer clients?

Kelsey: I offer boarding, daycare and rehabilitation services for both canine and feline pets. I also do services like nail trims and carry a small inventory of collars, leashes, treats and food. My centre has large private suites with outdoor patios that are large enough for families of pets to be comfortable in the same suite. I also offer large play areas reaching about one acre fenced, which is where I provide group play times during the day.

Boarding and daycare services also include walks with the length depending on the dog and how far they can safely go. I have a goal to make sure that pets go home tired and enriched from their experience with me.

OAVT: You are working to complete your rehabilitation certification through the University of Tennessee. Do you plan on introducing more rehabilitation services?

Kelsey: Yes! Rehabilitation is a service that I already offer to clients through veterinary referral only. I offer conditioning, weight loss programs and a variety of injury recovery programs. I am excited to be adding onto my existing facility to introduce more modalities in the coming years and providing the maximum care possible for my patients.

OAVT: What is a typical day like for you?

Kelsey: A typical day for me is always busy. I start around 7 am letting my guests out on their patios and feeding breakfast while also administering morning meds to medical boarders. I also get my boarders that are leaving ready to go and clean up messes from the evening.

My morning office hours for drop-off and pick-ups end at 10 am, so I am usually out in the play yards pairing my packs for the day. Throughout the day; I am walking dogs, playing with them and supervising pack play times.

During guest suite rest periods I am usually in the office doing the paperwork side of the business and checking in frequently on my guests to ensure they are comfortable. My evening hours are open from 4-6pm where the last of my pick-ups leave and drop-offs arrive.

After I close I feed all guests and administer medication to medical boarders if required. All guests have access to their patio until 9-10pm when I close them for the evening.


OAVT: How do you feel your RVT skills are being utilized in your current role?

Kelsey: I use a variety of skills as an RVT in this role. I use medical administration skills taught at college, including patient monitoring, charting, behaviour, and am usually the direct line between the owner and their pet while they are away. I keep charts of all my boarders so their owner can see exactly what they did during their stay.

On the rehabilitation side of my business I use a lot of skills learned in tech school as well as new skills that I am learning at the University of Tennessee CCRP Program. From range of motion exercises to gate patterning and performing physical exams, I use many RVT skills throughout the day.

OAVT: What other jobs have you had in the RVT field?

Kelsey: I have worked in many different environments within the RVT field. I have managed and worked at other boarding facilities, worked in general practice and dabbled in referral.

I also worked with a variety of animals, very different from the pets that I work with now: cows, horses, elephants, cheetahs, African wild dogs and more. I always enjoy a new experience to learn about different species around the world. I enjoy travelling and even did a conservation trip in South Africa with cheetahs.

OAVT: What advice would you give to RVTs who are wanting to start their own business?

Kelsey: There are so many opportunities to own a business as an RVT. I have enjoyed the journey to becoming an entrepreneur and there is always advancement when you own a business.

You must love challenges and customer service because although owning a business can be rewarding, it can also be frustrating and overwhelming. As an RVT, if you are passionate about your job and have found a business idea, work hard and find a mentor to help you through the process.

Being an entrepreneur also connects you to a vast community of people who are like minded and goal oriented. That has been a huge asset to my personal and business growth.

Lastly, take a business course through your local college or employment centre. I took a business diploma and connected with local business development centres that helped guide and refine my idea into the operational business that I run today.

OAVT: RVTs are passionate people, and every RVT has an area they are most passionate about. What is your passion? Does your current job allow you to fulfill that passion?

Kelsey: I am passionate about a lot of things. I love behaviour and enrichment and use this in all of my boarding guests. I also love rehabilitation and have not met a CCRP or prospect CCRP that hasn’t inspired me to be the best I can be in the rehabilitation field. I love watching patients go from depressed and sore on their first visit, to happy with a bounce back in their step by graduation.

I love the human animal connection and I am honored to experience this every day with my guests and clients. As an entrepreneur, my passion lies in providing a service that is safe and reputable for my clients to experience, and for my guests to feel calm and relaxed during their rehab or stay here at Willow Grove.



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