The Truth About Being a Kennel Assistant

A Behind the Scenes Story

Whenever I tell people what I do for my job, they always seem to reply with: “Oh, you get to play with animals? That seems fun!”  In reality, working as a Kennel Assistant is so much more then playing with your furry friends, so I thought I would tell you what it is like to be a Kennel Assistant.

My day starts off at 5:30 a.m. when I hear the ringing of my alarm, throw on some scrubs and run out the door to be at work by 6:00 a.m.  Before I even clock in there are cats and dogs telling me that they are hungry, and of course the dogs who have stayed with us overnight inform me that they need to go potty outside.  Although we primarily offer cat boarding, we do occasionally have dogs stay with us that are post-surgery patients, boarding for medical reasons, or have come into our clinic as a stray.  The next hour consists of me feeding the animals, including our very own Beverly and Peggy, changing bedding and cleaning kennels, walking dogs, data entry to ensure that medical records stay complete, and providing some kitty play and doggy love.  Around 7:00 a.m., my other coworkers start to arrive.  For the next couple of hours, I am now tasked with clinic duties:  making coffee for staff, assisting techs, re-cleaning litter boxes, restocking rooms, and the never-ending laundry and cleaning up after both humans and animals.  There is always a mess to address somewhere!  

 
Kelsey has been with our kennel team for over 9 years!

Kelsey has been with our kennel team for over 9 years!

During the day, there is no need for kennel staff, but at 4:00 p.m. I am back to work, this time to repeat the tasks of the morning and also to clean the entire two-story clinic.  The afternoon shift usually includes two Kennel Assistants, as there is a lot more work to be done to ensure the entire clinic gets ready for the end of one day and the beginning of the next.  I pick up and clean everything, including the well-used surgery room, bathrooms, lounge area, treatment tables, doctor areas, isolation room, exam rooms, reception, lobby and much more. We assist techs, doctors, and doctor’s assistants, or whoever needs a hand. We are “on call” during this time to bring your pet down from boarding, help take carriers to your car or intake a stray that needs to have some extra TLC.  We ensure every area of the clinic is clean, including the exterior of our building. We normally don’t finish until 8:30 p.m.; however, as Kennel staff, we are required to be there as long as work needs to be done, and sometimes that is well past 9:00 p.m.  

As Kennel Assistants, we are there for your animals always. We work seven days a week, including holidays, and have learned to adapt to the different personalities of your furry friends.  We don’t take snow days, and must ensure coverage for vacations or sick days as the pets in our care won’t understand missing a meal.

Kennel Assistants do enjoy the fun of playing with animals; however, we also experience a combination of sickness, trauma, happiness and loss, and we are usually the ones behind the scenes still giving your fur baby one last snuggle before they cross the Rainbow Bridge.  Being a Kennel Assistant is hard work, but the rewards of being a part of a successful team make it all worthwhile.

Mckenzy Newtson, Kennel Assistant