The secret life of techs
In high-cost-of-living areas like the San Francisco Bay Area, more and more veterinary technicians seem to be heading from their day jobs at the veterinary clinic to side jobs as pet sitters. Their reasons for getting into pet sitting vary, but the trend in the lucrative side job is becoming more popular.
“Even with the competitive pay where I work as a tech, I still depend on the money I make from pet sitting, and that’s something that keeps me doing it,” explains Sarah Rojas, RVT, of Adobe Animal Hospital in Los Gatos, California. “I know several other techs who do pet sitting on the side.”
Rojas’ fellow technician at Adobe Animal Hospital, Hosik Arakeliyan, RVT, says living in an expensive area gave him the idea for a side job. “And what job could have made me happier than working more hours with pets?” Arakeliyan asks.
Amy Raffin, RVT, who also works at Adobe, says she makes more money as a technician, “but pet sitting money is much easier to come by and having the extra money is always nice.”
While a love for animals is one of the biggest reasons technicians choose pet sitting as their side job, professional qualifications make technicians highly desirable for pet owners looking for sitters. “Working and caring for animals is something that we enjoy doing and I feel like, especially for pets with medical needs, we are the top choice for a lot of clients,” Rojas says. “I think technicians help clients feel more at ease leaving their pets.”
Technicians also admit that all work and no play makes Jack a dull veterinary professional. “Pet sitting is a little more fun because I get to spend more time and bond with a lot of great pets,” Rojas says. “Working as a technician, we don’t get to spend as much quality time with our patients, not to mention the fact that it’s in an environment that can be stressful to them.”
Raffin echoes these thoughts. “I work in surgery and ICU,” Raffin states, “so I have to be able to think quickly. Both departments can take a huge toll on a person, and pet sitting kind of allows for a mental break.”
Still, these technicians try not to let pet sitting affect their day jobs. “I normally won’t accept any pet sitting job that will interfere with my regular work schedule,” Arakeliyan explains. “I always inform my clients about my work schedule; that way I won’t have any challenges later. After working 20 years in this field and pet sitting almost 14 years on the side, I know how to manage my time in order to satisfy my pet sitting clients, my employer and at the same time satisfy myself.”
Raffin says that if she’s spending the night at a client’s house during her work week, she adjusts her schedule slightly. “I will ask my managers to allow me to take an hour lunch rather than my normal half hour. This allows me time to get back to the house and walk the dog,” she says.
While it might seem that pet sitting would be a better option than working as a technician, the resounding answer from these team members is “no.” “There are positives and negatives to both,” Raffin says. “When I pet sit, the work is much simpler. It allows my brain to relax and there isn’t the same emotional and physical drain. But I find work as a technician much more stimulating.”
Arakeliyan agrees, and believes the two jobs mesh together to create a better experience for both. “My technical skills have helped me a lot in order to become a better pet sitter, especially if they’re sick or need medical attention,” he says. “I love my job as a pet sitter, and I love my job as an RVT, because—well, I love pets!”