By Claire Stuart
Dana Ramey has more than just a dream of what it will be like to work at her chosen profession. While still attending school classes, the Clarke County High School 2020 graduate worked full time at Blue Ridge Veterinary Associates in Purcellville until she was laid off because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Blue Ridge Veterinary Associates is a large veterinary practice that also operates an emergency veterinary hospital that is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They also offer boarding, grooming and doggie day care. They serve animals large and small, exotic to ordinary, from reptiles and birds to dogs, cats, goats and llamas. Ramey worked as a Kennel Technician in charge of feeding and walking the animals, in addition to helping the doctors and other technicians as needed.
Ramey will be taking Penn Foster College’s online program to become a licensed veterinary technician. It is a two-year program, but students may study at their own pace.
Although many of the requirements for the course can be accomplished online, the program necessitates laboratories and hands-on learning exercises that must be verified by a veterinarian. If the students are actively working for a veterinary practice, they can complete their lab lessons at work where they can be checked by their employer.
It takes more than just a kind heart and a love for animals to become a veterinary technician. Unlike medical professionals that deal only with humans, veterinary professionals must be familiar with the anatomy, physiology, behavior and ailments of a host of animals, large and small. Plus, the vets and techs can’t expect to see any gratitude from their patients, who look forward to their visits with dread and fear, resulting in a constant struggle to avoid scratches and bites!
Beyond the routine vaccinations, dental care and nail clipping, there will be the injuries, broken bones and swallowed objects. There will be surgeries, allergies, digestive disorders, reproductive issues, behavior problems and life-threatening conditions such as cancer and heart disease. And of course, there is always the heartbreak of having to end the lives of beloved family pets.
Ramey says she is ready for whatever challenges her career will deliver. “It’s always very sad when pets have to be put down,” she acknowledged, “but I’ve always had pets, and we had to do it.”
Witness to many surgeries at the animal hospital, Ramey does not flinch at the sight of blood. She explained that, “Things that a lot of people think are gross don’t bother me. I have a very strong stomach!”
When she has completed her course and become a certified veterinary technician, she hopes to work with small animals, although she has had personal experience in raising large animals. She was active in 4-H for years, showing a variety of livestock, including goats, pigs, lambs and a steer. “I want to work with ordinary pets — dogs and cats,” she said. Currently, she has two dogs — a blue heeler/pit-bull mix and a lab/Rottweiler mix.
Dana is the daughter of John and Denise Ramey.