David Blanchette has a volunteer position at the Winnipeg Humane Society that’s not necessarily for the squeamish – assisting with surgeries at the WHS Clinic.
“My journey to the WHS was quite long,” he explains. “I was medically released by the military and I’m on disability for 24 months and I needed something to do.”
“When I first started volunteering here (in early 2018) I wanted to become a veterinary technician and to do that at Red River College you needed 80 hours of volunteer work,” he continues. “Back then they only allowed you to volunteer in the clinic if you were going into veterinary medicine of some kind. It’s changed and they encourage individuals who may have clinical or medical experience and wish to volunteer.”
“I knew I was going to get involved with animals somehow. The vet tech thing presented itself and the Humane Society opportunity came about to volunteer in the clinic. “
David’s had pets all his life – ranging from dogs and cats to snakes. He now has four guinea pigs, one of which was adopted from the WHS. So caring for animals came naturally to him.
“I wasn’t able to take the vet technology course,” David points out, “so I put that aside and went to Robertson College, where I’ve just started studying to be a Veterinary Office Assistant. It’s a shorter course, but it’s a way of getting my foot in the door.“
The Veterinary Office Assistant course involves anything from working in the office, such as reception work, to helping with the surgeries and helping the animals directly. “I really like the hands-on work.”
David volunteers twice a week and says that helping with the surgeries is the most interesting part of the job. “Seeing a surgery can be disconcerting the first few times. But if you’re going into veterinary medicine of some kind you have to be prepared. It’s an opportunity to learn more.”
Much of his time is also helping the animals in the recovery room after surgery. “We would take the animals, cut their nails, brush their fur and make sure they wake up safely,” he says.
“Providing the animals in recovery with as much of a fear-free environment as possible is of the utmost importance,” David says. “The animals are in an environment they don’t know anything about. They don’t know why they are there so naturally they are very scared and confused.“
“The staff and volunteers at the clinic have been just great to work with,” David comments. “They helped me quickly fit right in, referring to me as ‘one of the family’. I’ve learned a lot from them.”
“Once I graduate, this would be my first choice to work. It’s a really great environment.”
Clinic staff were quick to offer praise when it comes to David’s hard work and commitment. “David is a great clinic volunteer and he absolutely deserves to receive an MVP recognition,” says Clinic registered Vet Technologist Jen Hardy. “His great sense of humour and friendly attitude allows him to be a very approachable person; this is a great attribute when he is communicating with the staff and other volunteers in the clinic. He is a mentor to other clinic volunteers, and we can rely on him to teach them the correct techniques that are so important in our busy workplace.”
“David is one of our most dedicated volunteers,” adds Clinic manager Vicky Farmer. “In addition to being dedicated to his volunteer commitment, he would often pick up extra volunteer hours to help in the clinic. He really gets along well with our team and we really appreciate hearing about his pet guinea pigs, something he and one of our vets, Dr. Johnston, have in common. They love their guinea pigs! David is stepping away briefly to go to Robertson College to take courses to be an Animal Hospital Assistant, a career in which I know he will shine. We will miss him, and the snacks he would bring, but we are so very appreciative of all the help he has provided during his time with the Winnipeg Humane Society Clinic.”
Written by: Brian Kozak, Volunteer MVP Writer
Photo by: Jim Harvey, Volunteer MVP Photographer
A group of volunteers founded the Winnipeg Humane Society in 1894 and are vital to our success today! With the help of volunteers, we can provide care, love and attention to our four (and sometimes two) legged friends until they find their forever homes. The MVP (Monthly Volunteer Profile) will recognize the work and get to know these special MVP’s in a spotlight each month that includes an article and photo shoot. MVPs will receive a framed photo and gift card as our thanks!
Is there a volunteer you’d like to nominate to be MVP? E-mail us (firstname.lastname@example.org) and tell us why you think they should be an MVP!