True TLC from ACTs
by: Judy Hamontre, AVHS Volunteer and Board Member
They passionately work with empathy, skill and professionalism. They are the Animal Care Technicians ( ACTs) at the Ark-Valley Humane Society. Theirs is a demanding job, one they take seriously, giving “True TLC.”
The role of these ACTs is divided into 3 main areas: running the front of the facility, care of healthy dogs and isolation area care. What a typical day looks like depends on the area the technician is working.
If in charge of the front of the house, the ACT is responsible for care of the cats, the crematory and front office duties.
The first priority is taking care of a full population of cats. This means cleaning kennels, providing food and water and regularly checking that all cats appear to be healthy in appearance and behavior.
Techs are appreciative when volunteers are there to help clean cat kennels because then they have more time to focus on their crematory responsibilities.
Processing ashes and making that special paw print are roles everyone takes seriously because no one wants to make a mistake with something so emotionally important to a grieving pet owner.
Of course, there is extensive written recording to do for all cat care and crematory operations.
In addition to these two huge tasks, the ACT has to check emails and voice mails first thing in the morning to be aware of what has happened since the prior day. Stray dogs may have been impounded at the AVHS South, Salida location to be moved to the BV location.
A person may be contacting AVHS to report a lost pet or schedule an appointment for adoption or cremation. The tech wants to address all issues as quickly as possible while fulfilling their other responsibilities. It can be quite the juggling act.
ACTs in charge of the dog room also balance a variety of duties.
They first check for any night time “accidents.” It is quite an art to greet excited dogs while keeping them away from their “messes.”
Every dog is rotated outside ASAP. Each is fed and let out again. Kennel cleaning is done during these “outings.”
Volunteer morning dog walkers are a great help here. This tech manages all volunteers throughout the day and completes necessary “paper” work.
After lunch, shelter cleaning, dishes and laundry occur as do meet and greets with potential adopters, adoptions and dog enrichment.
The ACT in charge of the isolation area has a highly specialized role. This person takes care of all sick animals following strict protocols to prevent disease spread to other building areas. This tech also gives medications to all animals, conducts health checks, draws blood, administers vaccinations and assists with Tuesday surgeries.
There is a walk through and checklist for every animal, every day and all is recorded in detail into Pet Point software which takes effort to learn.
All animal care technicians collaborate with each other when help is needed in any one area.
This is especially true when the doors open at noon. Someone may rush in with an injured dog, just not knowing where else to go. Another may be in tears with a beloved dog or cat who passed during the night.
A person may be bringing in a stray found roaming in the streets and another may be in panic mode because his pet has disappeared. And there are those who are excitedly ready to adopt a pet or arriving to make a donation. The list goes on and on.
To meet the demand, all staff drop what they are doing in order to give appropriate care to the variety of requests, most steeped in emotion.
It is constant collaboration and supportive team work. All ACTs say, “It is a rewarding job, one they love.”
It also is emotionally demanding and stressful, but the AVHS ACTs keep on extending “True TLC” to our community’s beloved animals.
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