As interviewed by Natalie at the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians for the Career Spotlight in June 2016.
1. What is your name (including your credentials)? Kim Hutten, RVT
2. Where did you go to school and what made you decide to take a Veterinary Technology program?
I went to Ridgetown College, University of Guelph and graduated in 2005. Ever since I was a young girl I have loved and made animals a large part of what I do all day every day. My family always had pets as members of our family, and at times, more pets than people. Animals bring so much comedy, laughter, entertainment, love and companionship to our lives and I cannot imagine life without them. When it came time to pick a career I knew it had to be something that I felt passionate about and would want to do for the majority of my days, it was only natural that animals were my primary focus. The Veterinary Technology program seemed the perfect fit for someone who wanted to spend their days nursing animals, loving them, raising them, nurturing them and advocating for them.
3. What is your current job?
I currently work full time at the Ontario Veterinary College and part time at Lexington Rd Animal Hospital in Waterloo, ON. I work as a Veterinary Technician in both hospitals, although the jobs are fairly different, they are both great jobs. Emergency and specialty medicine at OVC can be fascinating, fast paced, and demanding, utilizing a veterinary technician in many technical ways, working alongside 4th year veterinary students, interns, and residents as well as veterinary faculty, veterinary assistants and client services. In small animal practise at Lexington Rd Animal Hospital I enjoy my role as a technician getting to know patients on a more regular basis as well as their human friends- coaching and participating with preventive care, and client education.
4. What other jobs have you had in this field?
While always maintaining my registration as a veterinary technician I did take a 2 year leave from the hospital setting and worked with bedbug detection dogs. I was trained by a canine trainer with the World Detector Dog Organization and our group of dogs at a typical conference could include narcotics, accelerants, search and rescue, and insect (termite or bedbug) detection dogs. This was a really good experience as a technician learning and working very closely all day and every day (around the clock) with dog behaviour. When you have a working dog that lives in your house as a pet, you find yourself constantly “training” and being mindful of every behaviour and its’ consequence. I have a large respect for what our canine friends are capable of doing. Working with them every day all day really taught me a lot about their behaviours. It also taught me too much about bedbugs, which is why I dove back into life as a tech in the hospital again after 2 years of chasing bedbugs around Ontario.
For several years now, I have also been involved with the Jack Russell Terrier Rescue of Ontario. This volunteer based rescue program is breed specific, to best serve the dogs that come into care with people who understand the breed and strive to provide the foster care as an alternative to a kennel in a shelter or human society. Working with foster dogs teaches a person a lot about the behaviours of dogs who come from various backgrounds and often situations that leave the dogs with insecurities. It is very rewarding work to be involved with these dogs, gain their trust, provide them love, build their confidence and watch them bloom into the family pets that match the perfect person who comes looking for them.
Finally, I have recently become involved with a new non- profit organization called, ‘The Bello Project’ working with people dealing with terminal illness and their pets.
5. What advice would you give to students and new RVTs who want to try their hand at different roles within this industry?
Being a technician probably means that you are likely a person who is versatile and enjoys challenges. It also means that you probably chose your profession because you highly value the life of other sentient beings(animals), and are willing to commit a large number of hours every day to ensuring the best quality of life for them. We have an amazing opportunity to share our specialized training of animal healthcare and welfare both in and out of the veterinary hospital setting. There are so many services and opportunities to give back to our communities and we can be a very valuable resource. By improving pets’ lives, we also improve the lives of the people they love.
6. Recently you became a committee member with The Bello Project. What is the Bello Project, and is it something that other RVTs can get involved in?
The Bello Project is a project through the Home Hospice Association that is designed to support the pets’ need for food, shelter, exercise and medical attention so that these things do not become a barrier for the pet and pet parent to stay united. The Bello Project will work with a pet parent to lessen the worry of what will become of their pet at the time of their death; and to offer a smoother and less stressful transition while the pet grieves their loss. All of this must be done at no cost to the pet parent or the re-home family).
‘The Bello Project’ helps extend care beyond the last days/weeks of life; improving the quality of life for the person who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and also support for those who love them. Bello Project members define the caregiving role both cross culturally and among family ~ including pets, volunteers and professionals. We identify and promote Best Practices in Supporting an Animal Caregiver. This service is provided to an individual at no cost
Care for pets in this program may include but not be limited to;
Transportation to the vet, grooming or play date appointments, basic daily care such as walking, litter cleaning, and overnight care for the owners’ unplanned hospital stays.
The Bello Project will also support pet families by;
Providing further support to the care giving role the pet plays for the person who is dying
Establish an appropriate system of re-homing for a pet whose pet parent does not have a family member able to take their pet when death occurs.
Determine how to ensure volunteers are the foundation of providing basic pet care to avoid emergency surrender or an abandonment situation
Identify when professional services must augment volunteer care and be exact on what expense that will be to the community offering the program
Plan Fundraisers and sponsors to include but not be limited to cost of gifts of food and treats to ease the worry of the pet parent and further the relationship with volunteers; Veterinarian care when required for the Re-Homing Process; grooming; and basic care that the community may not be able to recruit volunteers to perform
Educate the funeral service industry on the importance of the pet attending visitation and funeral services to ensure the ongoing health of the pet as it transitions to its’ new home
"I would really encourage RVT’s to become a part of this project in some capacity, because we have the training and skills that can bring so much value to the pets and people in this program."
Any contribution of time you could commit to on a volunteer basis would be an amazing gift to someone else’s life. If ‘The Bello Project’ is something you can see yourself participating in all you have to do is go to the website and ‘Contact’ us. Visit us at www.thebelloproject.com and click on the Contact tab on the home screen menu.