Sandy cares for and prepares sick and injured animals for treatment and operations. “One of the biggest parts of being a vet nurse is monitoring anaesthetics for the animal, so you’re essentially responsible for keeping the animal alive and in no pain while the vet is operating.”

After completing a year at Christchurch Polytechnic studying part-time to become a vet nurse, Sandy completed her studies in Otago. The first year was mostly theory work and learning the basics but the second year was a lot more hands-on, where she got actual experience at a pet clinic. “I learnt how to monitor anaesthetics, administer fluid therapy, put drips in, administer injections, antibiotics and generally just ensuring the animal is comfortable and eating the right foods.”

For Sandy the most satisfying part of the job was seeing the difference that she made in an animal’s life and wellbeing. In many cases she helped animals live pain-free for a much longer time than expected.

“Seeing an animal come through with a terrible disease or horrific injury and then seeing them get better and leave healthy and happy is a really rewarding feeling.”

Unfortunately, you can’t save them all. The days where you have to put down animals because of illness, injury or simply because of old age are the tough ones, Sandy says.

“Although having a love of animals and being caring are important traits to have in this line of work, you have to be strong as well and realise that not all animals can be saved. It’s just a part of it, so it’s really important to have that strength and maturity about you.”

For those who are keen to follow Sandy’s footsteps, she urges that volunteer work is the first step through the door. Even if it’s just cleaning or helping out at a local pet shop or volunteering at the SPCA, experience with handling animals is really important.

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