Let us introduce to Lucy, a proud registered veterinary nurse from the UK who is passionate about helping animals in need, at home and abroad. Lucy has completed three volunteer programs through WVS, including her time at the BLES Cat and Dog Home in Thailand.
This month, as part of Veterinary Nursing Awareness Month, we asked Lucy a few questions about the important role she plays in animal welfare.
Lucy, why did you want to become a vet nurse?
“I grew up with a variety of pets and loved helping my nan and grandad on their farm. Our family home always had pets there whether it was dogs, cats, fish, or even orphaned lambs. It was not until I started college at 16 that I learnt about the role of a vet nurse and that was when I knew that it was a career for me.”
What does being a vet nurse mean to you?
“It means a huge amount. I feel quite honoured as people are putting their pet's lives in my hands and trusting me with them. It also brings me a lot of pleasure and happiness as the role has such variety.”
What is the hardest part of the job?
“The hardest part is not being able to save every animal I meet, whether in the UK or abroad with WVS projects but I know that the teams I work with try our best and treat our patients as if our own. This makes my shifts very worthwhile.”
Who has been your most noteworthy patient and what touched you the most about their story?
“My most noteworthy patient on a WVS project must be Ruby the dog (pictured below). She arrived on the doorstep of the clinic at about eight weeks old when I was volunteering at in Sukhothai, Thailand. She had a head wound and was barely conscious. We were told she had been involved in a road traffic accident about 24 hours beforehand. We placed her on fluids, gave her pain relief and kept her snuggled in a crate, as I monitored her closely throughout the day making sure she was as comfortable as possible.
"In the afternoon she was awake and started to move around more. I offered her some food and to my amazement, she started to eat! She came to the clinic every day and within 48 hours she was walking (all be a bit wobbly!) It was very hard to leave her behind by the end of my trip, but I knew she was in safe hands with Katherine at BLES Dog and Cat Home.
"I have since been back to help Katherine at the clinic on three occasions and it’s been wonderful to see Ruby grow into a beautiful dog. People have asked if I would want to bring her back to the UK, but I believe she has the best home with Katherine at the sanctuary she runs.”
What was your experience with Worldwide Veterinary Service and how has it impacted you professionally and personally?
“Eight years ago, I was on a long hall flight and I read the book 'The Vet – My wild and Wonderful Friends.' I am no book worm, but I just could not put this book down. I was also about to start my vet nurse training so maybe this was a sign? Skip four years and I am near the end of my training and I meet a lovely vet named Louise Crawly. She is a night vet at my current practice and mentioned she has volunteered for WVS and highly recommended it. I had a look on their website, and I found a project the BLES Cat and Dog Home in Thailand, which is linked with an elephant Sanctuary.
"Since then, I have done 3 projects with WVS and cannot wait to do the next one. It has made a large impact on me and made me realise how lucky we are in the UK to have access to a variety of medical facilities for animals and humans at our fingertips.
"On one project, I was so touched by some young children that walked for 4 hours to bring their dog to the clinic for help. They visited every other day until their dog was well enough to go home.”
In your opinion, what can non-veterinary people do to improve animal welfare?
“Loads! The most important things are if you are thinking of becoming a pet owner, please do your research first. If you can and your situation is suitable then think about rehoming a pet from a reliable rescue centre. Please do not buy puppies and kittens from online selling sites and report any concerns you may have to local authorities. If you choose to buy a puppy or kitten, then make sure you research the breed comprehensively. When meeting the breeder make sure you see mum and use the Kitten Checklist or Puppy Contract to answer any questions. Ideally, the breeder should have information about the dad as well, including health screening results.
"Also, there are plenty of volunteer roles for non-veterinary people to support charities in the UK and abroad. Again, do your research on the charity and their ethics especially charities involving wild animals. Personally, I believe wild animals belong in the wild and not in a cage or on chains. Sadly, not all wild animals that are rescued can be released so this is where sanctuaries step in. I believe if a charity/sanctuary promote little and limited contact with the wild animals and the volunteers this is a good sign. I love elephants but I much prefer to see them in the wild being elephants with no human contact apart from their mahouts. No chains or bull hooks, riding or bathing by tourists and sadly there are only a handful of true sanctuaries that allow this.”
If you could give one piece of advice to a young aspiring veterinary nurse, what would it be?
“My piece of advice would be to a young (or older) aspiring vet nurse would be when starting their journey, be confident but honest, and don’t worry if you don’t get something right straight away. My advice would be when going on your first project is to have an open mind. I learnt so much about different cultures and communities, and I've since made friends for life.”
You can help us provide animals in need with the care they deserve, just like Lucy. Whether you're a trained veterinarian or veterinary nurse, or you just have a real passion for animal welfare, you can make a real difference. To learn about our volunteer programs and how to apply, click here.
Please note, due to the COVID-19 lockdown, many international volunteers programs have been cancelled or postponed. When restrictions lift and it is safe to travel, we hope you will join us and support some of the world's most deprived animals. Because every life matters.