Theresa Ayers of Mountain View Veterinary Hospital helps nurse pets back to health to be ready for adoption
VANCOUVER — Her job is her passion, and every day, she brings that passion home.
A love for animals, after all, does not end at the end of a shift.
Theresa Ayers has a schedule to fill as a full-time veterinarian technician at Mountain View Veterinary Hospital. But when she comes home and takes off her scrubs, she is still very much on duty.
Theresa, her husband Eben, and their 21-month old daughter Ezri have two pitbulls — rescues — two cats, a snake, and an aquarium full of fish. Oh, and as volunteers with Must Love Dogs NW, they also provide foster care for animals in need.
Recently, they took in Dwight, a golden retriever puppy with cleft palate. Every three hours or so, Theresa or Eben must feed Dwight by bottle. The goal is to get Dwight big enough, strong enough for surgery. Then Dwight will be ready to be adopted.
Because having one around-the-clock-care puppy was not enough, Theresa also agreed last week to take in a Corgi, a puppy with the same condition as Dwight. On Friday, Theresa took the Corgi in one hand and with her other hand fed the puppy formula via syringe.
The Corgi came home with Theresa for the weekend to celebrate his third and fourth days on earth. Theresa and Eben then took turns caring for Dwight and the yet-to-be-named Corgi, along with the rest
of their full household.
“I guess I’m starting to learn that what I do with the help of Eben is unique. But honestly I just feel like I’m doing my job,” Theresa said. “I have the training and the resources. It’s only right to use them. Otherwise, what am I doing?”
There is always a need for foster care.
“I have a very firm grip on the fact I can’t save them all. But I’ll fight for the ones I can,” Ayers said.
She has been doing this all her life.
“I grew up with my mom always raising little things,” she said. “Some of my earliest memories are raising little birds that fell out of trees, then letting them loose. I’ve always wanted to work with animals.”
Ayers started working at Mountain View Veterinary Hospital in 2007 as as kennel attendant. She graduated from Portland Community College in
2009 as a licensed veterinarian technician. Today, she is the lead tech at the hospital.
She and the other techs at the hospital have a broad scope of responsibilities.
“Patient care is No. 1,” Ayers said, before listing some of their skills: X-rays, anesthesia, dentistry, education for owners, and grief counseling.
Technicians, doctors, and all who work at the hospital help each other, and help owners, through the most difficult times.
“We try to keep it together as best we can,” Ayers said of the tough cases, when a family’s loved one is euthanized.
“We are helping their pets pass,” she said. “We are giving them final peace.”
One of the more rewarding aspects of her job is when she recommends a treatment. Take for example, a major dental procedure for a dog. An owner might be reluctant at first, perhaps due to cost. But after agreeing, and after the procedure, the dog’s behavior changes.
Ayers recalled one owner who returned to the hospital to thank the staff.
“She said, ‘I have a puppy again,’” Ayers said.
The owner said she just thought her dog was getting old. No, the dog was in discomfort. The dentistry worked, and the dog was back to normal.
For one appointment last week, Ayers had the fun assignment of getting some peanut butter and whipped cream for Jager, a 77-pound Weimaraner. With Jager distracted by the goodies, Dr. Kristi Wubben was able to give the dog his vaccinations.
Doctors and technicians work as a team at the hospital.
Working with animals does have its challenges and, shall we say, messy moments.
“The thing I hate the most is drool,” Ayers said. “It gives me the heebie-jeebies.”
Mother Nature also calls, and sometimes those calls go everywhere and anywhere.
“It’s a gross job. It really is. The things we deal with, the things we see. My dinner conversations are usually not appreciated,” Ayers said.
“It’s so worth it,” she said of her profession.
Ayers and her colleagues know it is all part of providing care for our furry friends.
That is why she continues to use her skills off the clock. As a volunteer for Must Love Dogs NW, she learned she has a skill for behavior modification. She has a gift for helping an aggressive dog become cuddly, or help a timid dog become friendly. Plus, with her medical background, she can take care of the really tough cases.
Some of those situations include: Taking in a pitbull mom and litter of pups whose family was dealing with an eviction. Ayers did this late in her pregnancy.
“That was … fun,” she said.
She cared for an 8-week-old kitten who was going to be euthanized due to a broken leg. Today, Fizzgig the Cat is thriving and has his own Instagram account: fizzgigfizzycat
“She is amazing,” Dr. Wubben said of Ayers. “A great model of someone who gives everything back to the community. She puts everyone above her, people and animals. We’re very lucky to have her here. I’m lucky to know her.”
Note: To volunteer for Must Love Dogs NW, go to its website: https://mustlovedogsnw.org/ Click on “Get Involved.”