Allison Milstone has been a veterinary technician since 2002. The 49-year-old says she always knew this was what she would do with her life — it just took her some time to get there.
She works with Dr. Catherine Powell at Home Care Vet in Houston, Texas.
Why did you become a vet tech? And did you always want to do this?
This line of work has always been a calling for me. I remember telling my mom I wanted to be a veterinarian when I was 8 years old watching an Auburn vs. Alabama football game and the broadcast highlighted Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
But I didn't start out in this career. I was in international business. I traveled the world. I even lived in Hong Kong. But the 9/11 attack abruptly ended that career. I returned home to Atlanta and knew it was time to follow my calling to care for animals. I volunteered. I trained, and eventually I became a veterinary technician.
What does a typical day for a vet tech look like?
There is no such thing as a typical day and, in my opinion, that is what’s uniquely cool about this job. Some days it’s all puppies, kittens and sunshine. Other days it’s sick animals that need testing (blood work, imaging) and diagnostics to treat their conditions. Some days it’s being with owners as they say goodbye to their beloved pet.
What do you like most about your job? And least?
What I like most is helping my patients live their best lives and educating their owners on how to do that. I don’t have a worst. I love what I do. I used to believe that euthanasia was necessary but honestly I have learned that it is a true gift that we can give to pets that are suffering.
What’s the most common misconception about your job?
The most common misconception is that this job is a financial dream. It’s not. The rewards are more spiritual and emotional.
What do you wish you knew about the job before you got into it?
The obvious answer is learning how to make peace with euthanasia. But owner compliance is more difficult than I had imagined. You’d think this job is all about the pets, but there are owners attached to those pets. It’s a delicate dance we learn. We give owners all the tools. It’s up to them to make it work.
What personality traits would make someone a good vet tech?
You must be selfless, empathetic and truly have a calling to care for animals.
Is there a time where you felt your job made a real impact on someone’s life?
Yes. Many times. This is what makes my day!
Can you describe one particular moment or day on the job that gave you real satisfaction?
When I've Iearned something new regarding vaccines, pain treatments, dental health etc. This has happened so many times over the years. I’m like, "Wow! I didn’t know that."
What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to you about your work?
On many occasions, during and after the euthanasia of a pet, I’ve had owners thank me. They thank me for helping them make the decision. They thank me for making the process peaceful. It’s those moments that I know I’m doing what I’m supposed to do.
If you weren’t a vet tech, what would you be doing?
This is my life. I will never do anything else. It’s completely unimaginable to me. I love what I do.
Where do you see yourself in five to 10 years?
Doing exactly this — saving the world one animal at a time. Forever.