For many of us, our pets are considered part of the family. When they need care, we rush them off to the veterinarian at our chosen clinic. And while we all rely upon the trained veterinarian’s expertise and advice, our furry friends are often receiving the care, compassion and nursing skill of the invaluable veterinary technicians in the office.

heritage bankOne of these often unsung heroes is Gayle Butler, a life-long veterinary technician at Evergreen Veterinary Hospital. Gayle believes that “our companion animals deserve the best in pet care and it takes everyone on the veterinary health care team to make that happen.”

To honor the valuable team contributions of veterinary technicians, the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) created National Veterinary Technician Week (NAVTW), planned for October 16 through 22, 2016. NAVTA is a nonprofit organization that represents and promotes the veterinary technician profession. NAVTA provides direction, education, support and coordination for its members. Incorporated in 1981, NAVTA is the national organization devoted exclusively to developing and enhancing the profession of veterinary technology.

Veterinary tech week
Gayle Butler has dedicated her 28-year career to helping animals such as this sweet Jack Russell puppy named Pal. Photo courtesy: Gayle Butler

As members of the veterinary healthcare team, Veterinary Technicians are educated in the latest medical advances and skilled at working alongside veterinarians to give pets the best medical care possible. They work closely with the veterinarians, veterinary assistants, practice managers, and owners to provide essential care to all species of animals – pets with fur, feathers, scales or skin.

“We are like the right-hand of the doctor,” Butler explains. “Vet techs are the skilled nursing department in a veterinary hospital and provide everything from blood-work and urinalysis to assisting the doctor during surgery to providing comfort to patients as well as their families and providing end of life counseling when necessary.”

The comfort, education, compassion and dedication veterinary technicians show to clients is what makes them a memorable and essential part of any clinic. During Butler’s 28 years as a vet tech she has seen her fair share of unusual cases and just about any animal you can imagine. But, when asked what she likes most about her job she’s quick to say, “I’m never, ever bored. I learn something new every day whether it’s a unique case or a medication the doctor chooses or just by listening to the doctor explain something to a client. It helps keep me awake, enjoying life and happy.”

Veterinary Tech week
Vet tech Alicia is helping Caoimhe at Evergreen Veterinary Clinic, located on Cooper Point Road in Olympia. Photo courtesy: Gayle Butler

National Veterinary Technician’s Week gives recognition to the tireless work vet techs do each day. “I have a lot of scars from my 28 years of work,” laughs Gayle, “but truly most of the animals are so good. They can’t talk to us, so we try and be as understanding and comforting as possible.” The annual event recognizes veterinary technicians for their contributions in pet healthcare alongside the veterinarians, assistants, practice managers and others involved in pet care. This year, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, a company dedicated to helping pets reach their full potential through quality nutrition and healthcare, is sponsoring the week-long celebration.

As we transition into the colder months of the year, Butler cautions about one of the most common seasonal dangers to pets: ethylene glycol (anti-freeze) poisoning. Spills and radiator leaks in garages can be extremely dangerous, even fatal, to dogs and cats. Butler urges pet owners to be aware and clean up any spills immediately and notes that the poison is present in other automotive and household fluids as well.  A full list can be found here.

Veterinary technicians week
The veterinary technicians at Evergreen Veterinary Hospital, including (from left) Alicia Hoglan, Julie Aho, Gayle Butler, are dedicated to caring for pets of all kinds. Photo courtesy: Gayle Butler

Another common winter danger is the presence of cats in the engine compartment of cars. “Cats seek out warm places during the night and car engines seem to be irresistible to them,” says Butler. She advises simply knocking on the hood of your car before starting the engine if you park outside. While you may not own a cat, or keep yours indoors, neighborhood cats may find their way to your car unbeknownst to you.

Pets give us unconditional love and veterinary technicians provide dedicated TLC to pets and animals of all kinds. Celebrate National Veterinary Technician Week October 16 through 22 by recognizing the team members providing veterinary care to all species of pets. Stop by your own veterinary clinic and show your appreciation of these invaluable caregivers for our beloved animal friends.

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