CHICAGO — PAWS Chicago is launching a program that will help animal lovers in Englewood gain the skills they need to become veterinarians or vet assistants.
Laurie Maxwell, the shelter’s director of Community Outreach, said the program will focus on apprenticing people under a vet and it’s expected to launch in 2020 thanks to a grant. PAWS, the city’s largest no-kill animal shelter, is still determining how many apprentices it’ll be able to take on during the program’s first year, and participants will be paid.
“People are over the moon about it,” Maxwell said. “Everyone has someone — ‘Oh, my daughter’ or ‘Oh, my sister’ — that they are ready to talk about [the program] with, saying he or she has always wanted to be involved in animal welfare.
“It’s pretty cool to see the reaction not just to folks getting more services for their pets but wanting to be involved in every way, shape and form.”
The apprentices will work at PAWS’ new center in Englewood, learning from the shelter’s community outreach veterinarian. They’ll serve pets in the community as they learn to vaccinate and restrain animals, among other tasks, and get prepared for a future job as a veterinary assistant.
Maxwell hopes the program will give animal lovers in Englewood a chance to follow their dreams and become vets or veterinary technicians, something she said wasn’t as possible before since there aren’t veterinary offices in the area. She said PAWS often hears from clients or their children that they want to be a vet but don’t know how to achieve that goal.
“When there’s a lack of exposure on career paths than you’re less likely to find a way to make it happen,” Maxwell said. “We want to create a concrete, tangible way for folks in the community to gain practical veterinary technician skills and build their resume … .”
Those interested in the program will be able to start applying later this year, possibly in December, Maxwell said. Participants must be 18 or older.
The program is “very exciting and a new way that we’re able to engage the community and deepen our commitment to involve in the community in every aspect of animal welfare,” Maxwell said.
Do stories like this matter to you? Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.