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Catching pet lovers early

Article

A new program shows tweens a path to become tomorrows veterinarians and responsible pet owners.

One in five tweens wants to be a veterinarian, but most can't get experience in the field until much later. Could this new book and website help?

(Source: Chris Carpenter, DVM)Think back to career day in school. Did you raise your hand and say you wanted to be a veterinarian? Studies show that 65 percent of all veterinarians made their career choice by age 13, and 18 percent of today's tweens show an interest in veterinary medicine. A new book with a website by Chris Carpenter, DVM, called Vet Set Go! aims to harness that early interest into a generation of responsible pet owners, and possibly future veterinarians.

“The quandary is that tweens often decide on a career in veterinary medicine early, and they are told to study science and get veterinary experience,” says Carpenter. “But to shadow a veterinarian, you need to be 18 or older, and age 16 at most humane societies. If we wait that long, we're missing out on allowing these tweens to get in and see what veterinarians do and explore their dream.”

With only about 4,500 students accepted to veterinary colleges each year, it stands to reason that most kids who express an interest in the career will likely never become a veterinarian. However, most will become pet owners at some point.

(Courtesy: Vet Set Go!)“The message in this, to my colleagues, is that the easiest way to influence a pet owner for tomorrow is to help them learn all they can now,” says Carpenter. “If we build the aspiration today, we will influence their care of a pet tomorrow. By teaching youngsters and interacting with them now, they will never forget that the veterinary profession is friendly and welcoming. They will become the pet owners of tomorrow, and they will influence buying future decisions.”

And directing more youth toward science-based industry is also a good thing. Even if these kids never become veterinarians, the focus could help point them toward more scientific careers, he says.

The website vetsetgo.com features ­­­­­­­­­­articles and videos that show what veterinarians do as well as games to test veterinary care knowledge and links to veterinary camps and activities for kids. The idea for the site stems from an early project Carpenter developed in which he recorded veterinary interactions and posted them on YouTube for children to watch, giving them a glimpse into the life of a veterinarian.

The book and website launched at the 2016 NAVC Conference. Vet Set Go! has been named among the best in family-friendly media, products and services by Mom's Choice Awards.

Sarah A. Moser is a freelance writer and editor in Lenexa, Kan.

(Source: Chris Carpenter, DVM)

 

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