Kids get a hands-on look at pets, vets

  • Tue Mar 20th, 2012 10:04pm

<b>SCHOOLS | </b>By Katie Murdoch Herald writer

Who wants to be a veterinarian when they grow up?

Nine little hands shot up in the air.

Students from Jamie Curtis’ kindergarten class saw behind the scenes at Helping Hands Vet Clinic in Lynnwood last week.

Connor Lovelace, 6, loved animals even before stepping into the vet clinic. He has two dogs: Max, an Australian shepherd and blue heeler mix, and Spike, a Labrador and border collie mix. His trip to the vet has Connor thinking about his career plans.

“Oh yeah, I want to be a vet because I like this place so much,” the boy said.

The staff at Helping Hands Vet Clinic, 18415 33rd Ave. W in Lynnwood, is offering half a dozen tours of the clinic to College Place Elementary School students through April. Two kindergarten classrooms took tours earlier this month.

Staff even brought in their pets – a cat, dogs and bunnies – to visit.

Reyna Arriaga, 5, wants to become a veterinarian so she can see animals and help them every day. After her turn petting one of the staffer’s pet bunnies, Reyna needs to talk to her dad.

“I’m going to tell my dad I want a bunny,” she said.

The tour gives kids the chance to see what happens behind the counter after they drop off their pets. It replaces the fear of the unknown with reassurance their pet is being cared for, receptionist Jessica Wengren said. “I hope the experience expands their knowledge of pets and what they need,” Wengren said.

Seeing all of the different sections of a clinic – from the pharmacy, to X-ray to seeing a stuffed animal getting its imaginary heartbeat checked – hopefully will encourage kids to get excited about the prospect of working with animals, technician Angela Guptill said.

The staff approached the school’s principal with the invitation to tour their clinic.

The idea came to the staff while wondering how they could reach out to children and reminiscing about field trips they took while in grade school.

Dr. Cherie Guidry’s daughter goes on field trips to libraries and fire stations. She wanted to offer students something just as hands-on and engaging.

“I thought we could definitely do that here,” Guidry said.

Curtis said the kindergarten teachers at College Place agreed the tours would be worthwhile. Many of their students live in apartments and can’t have pets. The trip was an opportunity for them to get a taste of what caring for a pet entails. To prepare, Curtis and her students have been reading about how to care for pets and keep them healthy – that pets are a responsibility beyond being cute and fuzzy.

“I want them to have a respect for the people who work in our community and for animals and how to treat them,” Curtis said.