Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers Career Video
Description: Feed, water, and examine pets and other nonfarm animals for signs of illness, disease, or injury in laboratories and animal hospitals and clinics. Clean and disinfect cages and work areas, and sterilize laboratory and surgical equipment. May provide routine postoperative care, administer medication orally or topically, or prepare samples for laboratory examination under the supervision of veterinary or laboratory animal technologists or technicians, veterinarians, or scientists.
Whether an orangutan needs surgery or a rat performs in a drug trial, veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers help make sure animals’ needs and well-being are looked after. Veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers perform routine care tasks such as bathing and exercising animals, cleaning and disinfecting facilities, and providing first aid or care after surgery. They work under the supervision of scientists, veterinarians, and veterinary technologists and technicians. They also administer medication, and help restrain animals for examinations and lab procedures. While empathy for animals makes for a good start, there’s often a somber side to animal care. These caregivers treat animals who are sick or have been mistreated and sometimes need to be euthanized. Handling and restraining animals takes physical strength and stamina, but dexterity is also important— especially when handling medical equipment. Good communication skills and an eye for detail are also essential. Work settings for these two fields differ: Veterinary assistants typically work in clinics and animal hospitals, helping treat animals with injuries and illnesses, while laboratory animal caretakers generally work in laboratories where they feed and monitor the animals involved in research. Work hours may be full- or part-time, and often include nights, weekends and holidays. Most workers in these fields have a high school diploma or equivalent, and learn the work on the job.