Name: Mary Pecarski, RVT
Job: Manager of RVT Programs with the Ontario SPCA
Q&A with Mary
OAVT:Where did you go to school and what made you decide to take a Veterinary Technology program?
Mary: I attended St. Lawrence College in Kingston and achieved my diploma in 2003. I have always had a love for animals and growing up on a farm, I was happy to be surrounded by all sorts of them. There was no questioning that I would pursue a veterinary career of some sort. The Veterinary Technology program enabled me to do something that I was extremely passionate about and could have a successful career doing.
OAVT: You currently work as the Manager of RVT Programs with the Ontario SPCA. That’s sounds like an interesting position. Tell us more. What is a typical day like for you? What do you love most about your job?
Mary: What isn’t there to love about my job, really? There are so many areas that I enjoy about this position. I get to help be the voice of the animals that come into our shelter. I facilitate with animal health care planning to keep animals healthy and free from illness while in our stay. I witness the human/animal bond when an animal gets adopted. But mostly, I am very proud to be leading the professionals in our RVT Program, who demonstrate and share the same passion for animal welfare as I do.
I have the responsibility of creating and developing the RVT program, where I spearheaded a formal rounds program that emphasizes stress reduction and enrichment as equally as medical care and physical well-being.
In this position, I am able to provide continuing, inclusive support and communication with both animal centre managers and RVTs at our animal centres. This maintains engagement and focus on all fundamental Shelter Health and Wellness concepts and strategies, as well as protocols and policies.
I see no two days the same as my job is very dynamic and always evolving. This is definitely one of the many positives of my job; it keeps me on my toes and I learn something new every day. I’ve learned so much in this position that I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to acquire. I’ve gained knowledge in areas such as population management, biosecurity and infectious disease protocols, behavioural assessments, stress reduction and enrichment and even website design for our Shelter Health Pro website!
OAVT: Tell us a bit about the Ontario SPCA’s RVT Program. What does it entail?
The RVT Program is a relatively new initiative for the Ontario SPCA, employing RVTs at our animal centres that are spread throughout the province of Ontario. The role of the RVT in our RVT Program is to:
- Perform daily rounds ensuring the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare are being met every day. This includes both the medical and behavioural components of animal health and well-being.
- Aid in the early identification of illness and infectious disease and implement isolation protocols accordingly.
- Provide a high level of nursing care in the shelter; establish and re-evaluate enrichment plans daily, monitor post-operative patients, administer medications through veterinary guidance and protocol.
- Conduct intake exams; identifying abnormal signs and triage to ensure animals are receiving veterinary care in a timely manner.
- Ensure biosecurity protocols are understood and being followed.
OAVT: What important qualities and skills do RVTs bring to shelter medicine? What are the benefits you have seen by having RVTs in the Ontario SPCA’s RVT Program?
Mary: The RVTs in our RVT Program are an integral part of the animal health care team. They are skilled, trained professionals who offer support on how to manage the animals in our care and confidently provide their expertise. These RVTs are committed to providing the highest level of care available and work to the full extent of their capabilities. This role aids and further enhances the health and welfare of all animals in our care.
OAVT: What are some of the misconceptions about working in shelter medicine?
Mary: One of the biggest misconceptions of shelter medicine is that it is stagnant and boring. This is far from the truth. Shelter Medicine is one of the fastest growing sectors of animal health. In fact, it is now a board certified speciality. Shelter Medicine is developing in complexity and scope, as well as evolving in multiple directions all at once! Similar to all animal health care areas, it is equally progressing and expanding. Over my three year shelter career thus far, I have seen huge advancements in this field which continue to better serve the animals in our care.
OAVT: Is there any advice that you would give to students and new RVTs who want to try their hand at shelter medicine?
Mary: Don’t be afraid to try something new or different. Shelter medicine is an employment avenue that fully utilizes its RVTs and their knowledge and skill set!
Ask your College Program coordinator if your Veterinary Technician Program includes lectures and learning material in Shelter Medicine and Wellness. See if the hospital where you work sees cases in Shelter Medicine from local rescues, Humane Societies, and SPCAs. Mention to your veterinary team about using shelterhealthpro.com as a resource and reach out to our Shelter Health & Wellness Dept if we can help.
Volunteer at shelters, even if it’s not in an RVT role! You’ll get a better understanding and a true interpretation of what happens at the shelter and all of the things that help animals find their forever home. I’ll be the first to admit that I had no idea the extent of the RVT role in a shelter before I started my career with the Ontario SPCA. Having been part of the shelter medicine world for just over three years now, it has opened my eyes to the endless opportunities that RVTs play in this role.
Remember to always be proud of what you do!