So what’s an ACA? An ACA is an Animal Care Attendant, or Vet Assistant. What does it take to be an ACA? If you have 0 experience working with animals but want to work in a vet clinic there are many college programs in Ontario you can sign up for. Durham (Whitby), Sheridan (Brampton), Georgian (Orillia), and Seneca (King). I started off as a volunteer at WHAC before I became an ACA. I dedicated about 10 hours a week volunteering at WHAC which was very rewarding. When I had 101 questions, everyone had 101 answers. Everyone here is very knowledgeable and has helped me with my experience and knowledge of the animal industry. What does an ACA do actually?
On a typical day I would make sure the clinic is neat and tidy, cleaning, cleaning up ‘accidents’, making sure shelves are stocked with medical supplies, food, cleaning products, etc. A mop and broom become your best friends very quickly. When patients come in for exams or nail trims I restrained the patients. Most importantly laundry has to be done. You’d be surprised how many blankets and towels get soiled in a day. Some of these ‘odd jobs’ may seem tedious and pointless, but are very important to a clinic. For example, when vets and technicians are busy with appointments and/or surgery and Mr.Fluffers has an accident in his cage, the ACA makes sure he has clean blankets, and a clean bum!
What I tell co-op students, volunteers, high school students who want to work in the animal industry is to volunteer/apply to as many jobs involving animals. Like pets stores with a ‘live animal’ department, aquariums, zoos, grooming salons, etc. In grade 11 I worked in a pet store as co-op student. From then I worked in “live animal” departments in different pet stores for 2 years. It’s a good place to start because you work hands on with the animals while learning basic care, and treatment for them. Also, you are exposed to the elements of working with animals: blood, pee, poop, and death. Those are 4 things you may experience on a typical day. If you can stomach that, everything else is very rewarding.
I’m very happy with my career choice and I’d never change it for the world!
“Until one has loved an animal; a part of one’s soul remains unawakened” -Anatole France
Written by: Simona Ncala