Switching tabs on her computer, Miranda Lynch temporarily stops work on her Spanish paper and opens up PetPoint, the system that the Humane Society of Huron Valley (HSHV) uses to keep track of animal data for both the shelter and clinic. She creates a new exam, entering the data she collected from Charlie, the thirteen year old dog with a cough and collapsed trachea that she just visited, before going over the information with Dr. Carter.
“She’s hoping we’ll at least be able to get blood work today; she’s curious about what all these medications do and I don’t know the answer to that so I was saving that for you,” Lynch tells Dr. Carter.
“Any improvement?” Dr. Carter asks.
“She said he’s pretty much the same and you can hear him in the room coughing continuously. But he does seem a little less anxious today.”
Lynch, an LSA senior double majoring in the Program in the Environment and Spanish, has been working in the clinic at the HSHV for over a year, gaining skills and knowledge she’ll need to apply for vet school.
After making the decision to pursue a career as a vet, Lynch was already a Sophomore in college and was worried about her lack of real world experience. With no official pre-Vet track to follow at the University, Lynch has taken all the basic requirements she could possibly need — biology, organic chemistry, etc. — and has also found opportunities through study abroad. She has worked with large animals, both domestic and wild, in places around Costa Rica and South Africa. But Lynch wanted, and needed, experience in a clinic, working with veterinarians and animals on a more consistent basis. She applied for an assistant position at the HSHV veterinary clinic, thinking she’d be doing grunt work, but over the past year she’s learned directly from the other technicians and vets on staff and is now doing the same tasks as a certified veterinary technician.
“I was really shocked. When I applied I told them I really don’t have a lot of experience working with animals, I’ve shadowed vets before, I’ve worked a lot with customer service so I know how to talk to people which is a huge part of vet medicine,” Lynch said. “I thought I was gonna be cleaning kennels and walking dogs but now I’m literally drawing blood and giving vaccines, which is crazy.”
Although Lynch has learned to draw blood and has done it countless times, some attempts are easier than others. For Charlie, an anxious dog whose nerves, cough and age made his veins difficult to access, drawing blood was a struggle. With the help of two other technicians, one to hold him still and another to keep him distracted with treats, Lynch managed to access a vein in his leg, but couldn’t get the blood to flow. After trying again, this time with a butterfly catheter, Lynch enlisted the help of Dr. Carter, who, with more experience and training, was able to draw blood from the jugular vein. Lynch’s next job was to take the two blood samples and prep them to be sent out for analysis.
In between appointments, Lynch focuses on her homework, taking advantage of the slow Sunday afternoon schedule. There were only three appointments that afternoon, two of which, including Charlie’s, were sick appointments. Sick appointments, according to Lynch, are more unpredictable than wellness checks, because there are a lot of factors to consider and you can’t follow the basic routine of a wellness exam. But Lynch enjoys the variety, saying that it’s fun to have a job where everything is constantly changing.
For the last appointment of the day, Dodger was scheduled for a wellness check and Lynch was required to administer some standard vaccines and trim his nails, among other tasks.
When she’s not working with clients or studying for exams, Lynch’s other responsibilities include closing down visit rooms, taking x-rays, checking on cats and dogs in post-op recovery, and checking the administration offices for mail or packages that were delivered to the clinic. Since the clinic is connected with the shelter, Lynch is surrounded by adoptable animals all day, even when she’s checking mail at the office.
“The cats here all have Feline Leukemia,” she said, walking into the administrative offices. “They have to be kept separate from the other cats since it’s contagious through saliva.”
Despite their immunosuppressive disease, the office cats have free reign, with toys and employees to play with. Walking through the office they start to appear, coming out from their respective sleeping spots to seek out attention. Lynch decided to take a quick break and pet the five cats that appeared, sitting down to give them adequate attention. A big orange and white cat came over to her and crawled immediately into her lap.
As Lynch heads into her second semester of senior year, planning for vet school is definitely on her mind. From her final classes, the GRE, asking for letters of recommendation, and filling out applications, there is a lot to do in the coming months. Her work at the Humane Society is both enjoyable and challenging, adequately preparing her for the years ahead.
“I think I’m very lucky to work in a place where I enjoy the people I work with and the things I’m doing,” Lynch said.
Graduating and choosing a vet school are the most pressing concerns for Lynch right now, but she already has the long term future on her mind. Her dream is to work with large animals, like cows and horses, in addition to the traditional pets she already treats. From working at a non-profit mixed animal care center to opening her own animal rescue sanctuary and vet practice, Lynch has big goals. Her passion and dedication for her work will drive her to achieve these dreams and more.