Happy National Veterinary Technicians Week to all the amazing vet techs out there, but especially our 4 rock stars! To close out the week, we’re featuring Deborah Chase who has been at the zoo for almost 21 years.
Where were you before coming to Dallas Zoo?
I was at UT Southwestern’s Animal Resource Center in Dallas.
What does it take to become a vet tech?
You need to have a strong interest in veterinary medicine and a love for working with animals as well as people. To become a licensed veterinary technician – a requirement to be hired by the Dallas Zoo – you must attend a two-year program accredited by the AVMA and have an associate’s degree in veterinary technology. These programs require an internship for on-the-job learning, which many zoos offer. After completion of the vet tech program, you are required to sit for state and national exams to obtain your license. You must attend CE annually to maintain your license. All of the techs at the Dallas Zoo also have bachelor’s degrees. Mine is in biology.
What’s a typical day at work like?
A typical day may involve filling prescriptions, medicating animals, monitoring anesthesia, taking radiographs, collecting blood or other samples, performing laboratory testing, and assisting with medical behavior training on animals that participate through positive reinforcement.
What has been the most challenging aspect of the job for you?
For me, it was learning how to perform ultrasound exams, something that has been an interest of mine for a very long time. I attended a ten-month abdominal and cardiac course with the support of the zoo. It takes a lot of practice and skill that I will continue to build on. When you learn on domestic dogs and cats, it is very challenging to apply that knowledge to the variety of exotic animals at the zoo whose anatomy can vary so widely.
What’s been the most rewarding?
Being able to interact with animals during voluntary medical behavior training. Having the trust from an animal and the technical ability to obtain a blood sample, do an ultrasound exam, or give a vaccine without having to use sedation is an invaluable tool to provide the best health care for our animals at the zoo. When you are successful at this, it is a great sense of accomplishment!