Since Freshman year in high school, I have volunteered with the Humane Society in the San Francisco Bay Area. As a Freshman, I was only able to walk and care for the dogs there. This was my first step in my animal related career. I would volunteer at least once a week for two hours with dogs in need. I was only volunteering with dogs ready for adoption. This means that I did not deal with animals with current severe medical needs. I stopped volunteering sophomore year to focus more on school work.
Junior year of high school, I began shadowing a small animal veterinarian near my school. Because I was still under 18 years old, I was unable to physically help with medical issues. I was able to observe a variety of different procedures on various small animals. I observed spaying and neuterings of cats and dogs while volunteering there.
During the summer of junior year, I attended a veterinary summer program at Tufts University. I was able to explore further into the different types of veterinary medicine. I was able to shadow fourth year vet students. I even got to see the surgery of a horse. We went to a variety of different farms including sheep farm, cow farm, and even a pig farm.
During Senior year of High school, I began volunteering again with the humane society. I began volunteering with two different departments this time. Twice a week, for at least four hours each, I would work with Exotics on Fridays and Wildlife on Sundays.
The animals I worked with in exotics were not able to go up for adoption yet. They were either too injured or sick to be adopted. I worked with animals that would come in with cat scratches, teeth marks, broke limbs, or even malnutrition issues. Most of these problems were dealt with by the volunteers. I would clean cages, feed animals, deliver medication, and clean wounds when necessary.
Animals in the Wildlife division never go up for adoption. They are either made healthy enough to release or are put down when absolutely necessary. I worked in the bird nursery which was a tricky name because we also cared for baby squirrels in there. We dealt with small birds, not sea birds. The mammals and sea birds were taken care of by interns and staff. The birds in the nursery were on a timer feeding schedule of either every thirty minutes, every forty-five minutes, every hour, or every two hours. When the timers went off, us volunteers frantically went through feeding the birds. Some birds required more attention, and required us to force feed them. My favorite part, was feeding the squirrels. Every three hours the squirrels had to be syringe fed. There were two types of squirrel formula, one for the squirrels under four weeks of age and those older then four weeks. This was determined by whether or not there eyes were open or not. They were the cutest and hardest animals to feed of me. They aspirated very easily, so we had to be careful when feeding them. Aspiration happens when you feed them too fast and the formula gets into their lungs.
This summer I will be applying for an unpaid internship with the Wildlife Department at the Humane Society. I will work three days a week for a minimum of eight hours a week, for three months. I will not only continue to work with animals in the bird nursery, but I will also be able to work with the larger birds and mammals.