Spotlight: Sandra Bush, vet tech extraordinaire

‘Her compassion for animals runs deep and she gets much reward from helping them out’

Diane Stevens
For ClarkCountyToday.com

VANCOUVER — Sandy Bush is a person that loves animals so much that she has dedicated her life to their wellbeing. It was over 15 years ago that she received her Associate of Science degree in Veterinary Medicine from Portland Community College and she has been a veterinary technician ever since.  Her compassion for animals runs deep and she gets much reward from helping them out.

Sandy Bush is a person that loves animals so much that she has dedicated her life to their wellbeing. Photo courtesy of Diane Stevens
Sandy Bush is a person that loves animals so much that she has dedicated her life to their wellbeing. Photo courtesy of Diane Stevens

About six years ago, Bush met Jennifer Hart, president of Furry Friends. Hart was volunteering at a Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon (FCCO) event and Bush happened to strike up a conversation with her. Sandy was looking to contribute some time to helping cats and Furry Friends, which is located in Vancouver, was looking for more vet tech help with their growing organization. It was a perfect match.

Bush began her volunteer work with Furry Friends helping out the lead vet tech, and then it wasn’t long before she was the lead vet tech. Her workload has grown right along with Furry Friends, requiring more and more of her time.  For 2018, there have been about 200 cats under her care. Some of the cats and kittens are adopted out quickly, while many more end up staying with Furry Friends for months and some for years.

When cats and kittens come in to Furry Friends, they all go through a wellness checkup with Bush. This exam can take 15 to 25 minutes per cat. The kittens will end up having a second checkup four weeks later. 

Sandy Bush began her volunteer work with Furry Friends helping out the lead vet tech, and then it wasn’t long before she was the lead vet tech. Her workload has grown right along with Furry Friends, requiring more and more of her time. Photo courtesy of Diane Stevens
Sandy Bush began her volunteer work with Furry Friends helping out the lead vet tech, and then it wasn’t long before she was the lead vet tech. Her workload has grown right along with Furry Friends, requiring more and more of her time. Photo courtesy of Diane Stevens

The initial exam includes: checking heart and lungs, testing for feline leukemia and aids, treatment for fleas, ear mites and worms, their eyes and skin is checked, scanned to see if they have a microchip. If the cat does not have a microchip, she will insert one. If the cat has not been spayed or neutered and is over three pounds, they will be scheduled for an operation with Companion Vet Clinic Salmon Creek. If the cat has other health issues, they may have to go to visit the vet at Claus Paws. In addition to the initial wellness checkup, Bush and assistant Donna Hooker, perform a monthly checkup on each of the cats in Furry Friends care which takes six hours to complete. 

With so many cats in her care, there are always those needing daily medications. She ends up coming to the Furry Friends Halfway House one to three times a day to give medications. In addition to that she is run ragged taking cats to the vet. Some cats with special issues need to go to veterinarians in Portland. These vet trips take about three hours of Bush’s time. Many other cats need teeth work and Bush is the one transporting them to Claus Paws to get the work done.

Furry Friends volunteers would very much like to find more help for Bush, such as finding another vet tech that could work a few hours a week. Or, perhaps someone who is willing to transport cats to the vet or an experienced person to give some critical meds to cats so Bush does not have to make one to three trips to the shelter each day.

What is impressive is Bush, like the entire dedicated staff at Furry Friends, works on an entirely volunteer basis. Payment comes in the form of knowing she is making the world a better and safer place for kitties that wouldn’t have a fighting chance otherwise.

In the rare moments when Bush is not consumed with cats, she loves to visit antique shows with her mom. She is also a car buff and loves visiting classic car shows with her boyfriend and watching NASCAR. Then she comes home to cuddle with her own two cats, Nemo and Buddy, both were Furry Friends kitties that she adopted. Most volunteers can’t work long around these cats without one or two coming home with them.

“We are so grateful for Sandy and her tireless effort for the kitties,’’ said one Furry Friends volunteer. “She is an angel in the lives of our kitties and as a fellow volunteer for Furry Friends. She is a sacrificial person and it is an honor to work by her side.

About 60 percent of the Furry Friends budget goes to the medical care of about 200 cats. For 2018, Furry Friends spent $126,000 on medical. This is an extraordinary amount for a small shelter that is dependent on donations to stay afloat. There is no trust fund fueling this operation and there are no paychecks. It’s an all-volunteer agency. 

Those who would like to make a donation today to Furry Friends can visit www.furryfriendswa.org.

Furry Friends Washington is a 501c3 charitable organization that has been serving Clark County since 1999. This no-kill organization is operated and run completely by volunteers and dedicated to providing rescue, necessary medical, and spay/neuter for neglected and homeless cats while finding them forever homes. 

To find out more about Furry Friends, visit www.furryfriendswa.org or contact information@furryfriendswa.org (360) 993-1097.

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