As a wildlife biologist at Prairie Wildlife Rescue, Travis Livieri is completely hands-on with his work. Livieri monitors the endangered black-footed ferret in the wild, determining how many exist and observing other aspects of their ecology and behavior. His role plays an important part in their future.
“With black-footed ferrets, they are an endangered species and in order for us to take them off the endangered species list, we need to know how many there are,” he said. One part of the species recovery involves breeding them in captivity, taking them into the wild and releasing them.
A ferret lover himself, Livieri has observed interesting and curious behavior in his own ferrets that challenges him every day in his work. “I see things up close at home and start to think about why they do that,” he said. “What is the reason a ferret would want to engage in that activity or behavior? What advantage or disadvantage would it be out in the wild?”
Though his title is wildlife biologist, working with an endangered species involves wearing many different “hats.” “It’s so much more than the biology end of it,” he said. “I end up being a politician, an accountant, a fundraiser, a veterinarian, a mechanic — it encompasses so many different things. If my job were strictly biology, it would be easy. When trying to recover endangered species, I’m working with the economy, social issues, people’s values,” he said. Livieri has a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in wildlife management.
For those who love the idea of working one-on-one with animals in a medical setting, but may not feel as though becoming a veterinarian makes sense for them, there is another option. Veterinary technicians have the opportunity to be involved with surgeries, exams, consultations with veterinarians and day-to-day operations of a veterinary practice.
For Noni Clark, a veterinary technician in Texas, it wasn’t her first career choice, but after more than 13 years in the field, she wouldn’t change a thing. Clark never imagined that her degree in PE Health and Sports Medicine, combined with her EMT background, would put her in a clinic caring for animals, but once the opportunity arose, it made perfect sense. As a veterinary technician, she not only educates and offers emotional support to clients; she also gets to spend her days with her own pets.
© Gina Cioli/I-5 Studio
Some people’s enthusiasm for small animal pets leads them to take on a career working with them.
Small Animal Rescue
Any small animal lover knows that rescue work is a huge part of caring for these animals. For people who devote their lives to it, the rewards are immeasurable. Julie Pierce is owner of Pierce’s Pogs Rattery in New England. She has been involved with numerous rescue groups as a volunteer, a foster home and doing home visits. Pierce’s advice for those interested in rescue work is to make sure to research the amount of time, space and financial resources required to take it on. “Like all rescue work, it is expensive and time consuming but very rewarding,” she said.
For people who fantasize about working with animals, being a veterinarian is the dream job. Having the knowledge and ability to care for and save the lives of animals can give any animal lover goosebumps. Like any dream, pursuing this career path requires hard work, persistence and dedication.
Typical veterinary school candidates graduate from a four-year college or university before attending veterinary school. “During those four years, one must take and pass certain classes that are required before entering a veterinary program,” said Anne K.G. Bazilwich, DVM, of Grand Isle Veterinary Hospital in Grand Isle, Vermont.
Veterinary school requirements vary, so applicants must research options to allow for a clear understanding of requirements. Acceptance into an accredited veterinary college is highly competitive, though interested candidates can gain an edge beforehand through work experience.
“Veterinary colleges seek intelligent, well-founded individuals for admittance into their veterinary program,” Bazilwich said. “Good grades and high scores on entrance examinations are a tremendous asset; however, most veterinary schools also like to see that the student has obtained real-world work experience in a veterinary hospital, on a veterinary farm or house calls, on a veterinary research team, in a public health, government or corporate office, and/or in any other field of veterinary medicine.”
Once accepted, another four years of study is required before receiving a doctorate. “At that point, one may practice veterinary medicine or pursue additional training through internship and residency programs,” Bazilwich said.
Bazilwich points out that many veterinary students graduate with a huge debt load, and the occupation itself does not guarantee a lot of income. “It is important to realize that one will not become rich being a veterinarian,” she said.
Most veterinarians don’t mind. They are driven by their desire to make animals’ lives better. The payoffs might not be monetary, but they make all the hard work worth it.
“I love that every day at my job is different, and it is never boring,” Bazilwich said. “I love the many different surgeries I get to perform, being able to solve the mysteries surrounding diagnosis, watching pets grow and develop through the years under the care of loving owners and our team. I love saving lives, healing, and easing pain, discomfort and suffering. I absolutely love taking care of animal patients.”
Other possible jobs that allow you to work with small animal exotics include pet groomer, animal trainer and an educator at a zoo.