“No Food, Going to Surgery!”

It’s 7am, Bradley the dog is just waking up, Lilly is already up getting ready for school. He goes out to the kitchen where mom is making breakfast, his bowl is missing, and he looks at her with an expectant face. She is talking to him, though he doesn’t understand everything, he does get the words, “no” and “food.” It’s strange, but he gets into the car with mom and Lilly and when they get to Lilly’s school she looks at him and gives him a kiss and more words like “later” and “love”?

At the shelter, Gracie the cat has been moved into a new cage and they forgot to give her the bowl of kibble that she gets every morning. She can see it on the shelf, she doesn’t know why they are ignoring her pleas for her bowl. Plus she can smell a rabbit and rats?

It’s 9am and volunteers in the Marin Humane Spay/Neuter clinic are starting their day. First, they have to check out all the animals: pups, kittens, a rabbit, and oh wait, there are a couple of rats for surgery today, too. There are a few private animals and some shelter animals who will be going to surgery. Food has to be made, beds to keep the animals warm after surgery will be gathered, cages to be cleaned, and all the miscellaneous duties to get done before the veterinarian comes in to examine the animals.

The animals are brought in for their exam by the volunteers. They help the Registered Veterinarian Technicians (RVTs) prepare the animals for surgery, recover the animals post-surgery, and watch them carefully to see they all wake up well and are ready for their post-op meal.

The Vet Clinic volunteers are from all over Marin County, from all walks of life. Among our ranks is a MD, nurses, hospital technicians, teachers, entrepreneurs, students and housewives. Some work full time and volunteer on their day off. They all bring their special strengths to the clinic group. Many of them also volunteer in other areas of the shelter: animal care, bathing, Pet Partnership, an evening cat feeder, and helping in the Animal Outfitters store. A high school student, Kacey Rhinehart, also videos cats for our Facebook page. Diane Kelly our “retired” Ob/Gyn MD says this is the perfect post retirement job for her. “I feel like I am doing something meaningful, contributing to a team, and love and admire the staff and other volunteers. The days I spend at the clinic are the best days of my week.”

The day progresses, the flow of animals continues, preparation, surgery, recovery and food. Good, the afternoon volunteer is here. This volunteer will process the instruments that are used in surgery. It is a very important function as these instruments need special cleaning and processing. It’s all teamwork, everyone pitches in to get the work done.

Wow, it’s 3pm and our private animals are starting to go home: that adorable kitten leaves, that Great Dane (85 pounds of him) ambles out the door, and oh that darling Chihuahua puppy is happily embraced by that cute little girl Lilly who is so happy to see her pup. Observing this reminds June Bannister of why she works in the clinic. When she was a little girl she always wanted to be a veterinarian. Her family couldn’t have a dog so she would bring other people’s dogs home. Being a veterinarian did not happen but upon her retirement she decided to do something entirely different and that led her to the clinic. “It is harder than I thought it would be but I love working here and the people I work with.”

Next up: floors to be cleaned, counters to be wiped, everything restocked and ready for surgery tomorrow. One more pass through the cat cages. Must give a hug to that big cat Gracie who wasn’t so happy to get her dental, but she is already eating her wet food and her kibble bowl is back in her cage. Dogs all waiting at the front of their cages to say goodbye. One more glance, oh gosh, those two kittens knocked over their litter pan. One more clean-up and the day in the life of a clinic volunteer ends.

No animals were harmed while telling this story 🙂

Cast of Characters:

June Bannister, Katharine Cagney, Carolyn Camden, Ron Coffer, Georgia Couderc, Mike de Cook, Rose Estrada, Andrea Harmer, Diane Kelly, Ariana Peterson, Kacey Rhinehart, Barb Ross, Judy Schlossberg, Anton Singh, Marlies Thompson, and Anne Wilson.