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Charly Haley , Published March 17 2013

It's My Job: Humane Society animal care technician helps pets find homes

FARGO – Jen Buhr spends her days caring for pets and helping them find homes.

The 24-year-old with a zoology degree is an animal care technician at Humane Society Fargo Moorhead.

Q. What is your job?

My job is pretty much anything that needs to be done in the shelter. Primarily we work with the animals, so every morning we clean out their kennels and give them their medications and take them to doctor appointments and things like that, and we do the same thing in the evening.

But then during the day, in the open hours, I help out up front, and we basically talk to adopters to try and get our animals matched up. We process applications and we update our website and things like that. So, it’s more clerical during the day and then at night we play with the animals and take care of them.

What are your hours?

It’s really scattered. Sometimes I’ll work in the morning, and the morning shift is basically 7 to 11. Sometimes I’ll work in the evening, which is a short shift, and then sometimes it’s 11 (a.m.) to 7 (p.m.), which is our open hours.

What is your favorite part of this job?

The animals. Everyone that works here is a big animal lover, and we’re all borderline hoarders, pretty much – we love animals so much.

One of the more rewarding parts is to see an animal that is broken when they come in, and you can tell they’ve had a hard life. They may have been abused, their past family abandoned them or whatever, and they come in here and they’re really stressed, and they’re really sad, and you can just tell. And then they find a home, and they’ll come back for a visit, and I don’t even recognize them because they’re so much happier and healthy.

Do you have pets of your own?

Oh yeah, I have a dog and two cats and a turtle.

What are some of the challenges of your job?

We have a lot of challenges. The sick animals – for example, we have Esperanza (a dog) in back, and she’s paralyzed from the waist down. She’s still regaining her mobility. Seeing them and working with them and trying to get them healthy is a challenge.

Taking in animals that might be sick and not spreading it to the other animals is a huge challenge.

And then finding the good homes for these animals also is a challenge sometimes – if it’s just not the right fit for someone to have an animal or it doesn’t work out and they have to bring it back. And that’s always a hard thing to do is to tell somebody we don’t really think it’s a good fit with your home, or for them to come back and say, ‘It didn’t work out,’ and them being all frustrated and the animals being sadder because they lost another home. That’s probably the biggest challenge.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Charly Haley at (701) 235-7311