Local youth can be “junior vets,” at least for an evening, tonight at the Dalton-Whitfield County Public Library.
Dr. Jessica Bianco, a veterinarian at Dalton Animal Care, will bring X-Rays to examine, perform a full physical on a therapy dog and demonstrate suturing and other surgical techniques during the library's Junior Vets event, she said. Then, children can put their newfound knowledge to use by “doctoring” their stuffed animals, which they are asked to bring to the library.
Junior Vets is part of Kids Create, a monthly program at the library for children in kindergarten-fifth grade, typically focused on art and/or science, said Lizzy Stuckey, the library’s children’s coordinator.
“It’s something fun and educational for children to do after school one Monday a month," she said.
There is no cost for families to attend, but space is limited in the meeting room, so attendees will be admitted on a first-come, first-served basis to the event, which starts at 5 p.m., Stuckey said.
“We would love to accommodate every kid in the world,” but attendance is limited to the first 35 children Monday, she said.
No pre-registration is required. A parent or guardian must attend with their child.
Bianco has shared information about her profession at career days in local elementary schools and met with children at the library several times because she believes “animal husbandry, in general, is important.”
It’s critical “for kids to know how to handle and take care of dogs and cats,” said Bianco, who started at Dalton Animal Care as a vet assistant in 2008 and graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine in 2015. And, for those who hope for careers working with animals, it’s paramount they understand everything the profession entails.
For example, math and science skills are critical, as is the ability to problem solve, she said.
“It’s great that you can work with animals every day, but it’s also a medical career” requiring at least eight more years of study following high school, she said.
She advises prospective veterinarians to work hard in school.
“School is the first hurdle," she said.
While the library naturally offers a plethora of literacy programs, it’s also worthwhile to bring in people like Bianco who can “open up the world” to children, Stuckey said.
“To get to meet a vet and see what she does makes it hands-on and real” for children, she said, and advice from a professional like Bianco make a “powerful impact.”
A veterinarian is an early career dream for myriad children, although, of course, many will ultimately follow different paths, and there’s nothing wrong with that, Bianco said.
“Learning that you don’t want to do something is just as valuable as learning you do," Bianco said.
She was one of those kids who yearned to be a veterinarian from an early age, but never changed her mind, she said.