Camp Florence youth learns animal care through internship


Daniel hopes to become a certified veterinary technician — and a clinic in Florence gave him invaluable first-hand experience

Oct. 5, 2019 — Daniel seems like he’s at home as he gives a tour of the veterinary clinic surgery room.

He spouts terms like ovariohysterectomy (removal of a female dog’s reproductive organs) and isoflurane (anesthesia). Later, Daniel fills a syringe with pain medication and injects it into a cat who just had teeth pulled.

It’s hard to believe Daniel is an intern who has only been working at Osburn Veterinary Clinic in Florence for a few months. During that time, the staff have come to rely on him as an important part of their team.

“Daniel sees things that need to be done, and he does them. He’s been doing a lot of the work that assistants and technicians do,” says Dr. Suzy Barstow, one of the clinic’s veterinarians. “He’s definitely got a good head on his shoulders. He really likes animals a lot. And he’s pretty good with people, too.”

Daniel currently lives at Camp Florence Youth Transitional Facility. He is preparing to transition out of Oregon Youth Authority custody this fall.

Part of that transition prep has included schooling, training and work in the field he hopes to turn into a career.

“I do like training animals, but I think I’d like to help more with their health, kind of give them a voice that they don’t have,” Daniel says.

Daniel first worked with animals through Project POOCH at MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility. POOCH is a program where youth learn to train dogs for adoption.

When Daniel transferred to Camp Florence, he connected with Marc Barnum, the facility’s coordinator for VESOY (Vocational and Educational Services for Older Youth) programs. Barnum pointed him toward an online college program through Penn Foster where Daniel could study to be a certified vet tech.

Barnum also connected Daniel with the Osburn clinic, which had another intern from Camp Florence in the past.

“The two [youth] that came here have done very well,” says Dr. Eugene Osburn, the clinic’s owner. “Daniel has grabbed a mop, he’s cleaned tables — he’s learned that it’s not just about standing around and looking at pretty dogs and cats.

“I think he’s learned a lot, not necessarily about dogs and cats, but about life itself and the importance of the animal to the owners.”

Besides working in the Florence clinic once a week, Daniel also went along with staff to a local ranch to check on cattle. On their fist visit, they dewormed the animals. On their second visit, they vaccinated calves and checked cows for pregnancies.

Back at the clinic, he’s done everything from inserting IV catheters to taking animals’ temperatures to checking their heartbeats for abnormalities.

“[The internship] has definitely taught me a lot,” Daniel says. “Not only am I interning at a small, locally owned clinic, but everyone here has been so helpful, and I’m so thankful for that.”

Certified veterinary technician Crysta Saxton says that Daniel’s skillset has grown to the point where he is basically a fully-functioning technician. She says the clinic staff will miss him when his internship ends.

“We’re sad to see him go but super excited because whatever clinic he ends up at is going to be extremely lucky to have him,” Saxton says. “And the animals are going to be really lucky.”

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