Published: 2017-04-12 Recent Eastern Nazarene College alumnus J.T. McNeil has been working as an intern with the New England Wildlife Center since his graduation and was just recently hired as a full-time veterinary technician. The center, which focuses on science education and the rehabilitation of local wildlife, also houses the Odd Pet Vet, one of few exotic animal veterinary practices in the area. Given the little funding allocated to the wildlife center, all of the proceeds from the commercial Odd Pet Vet go towards the care of the Wildlife Center's patients, and McNeil had the opportunity to work with both of them.
J.T. McNeil Veterinary Technician
While in school, McNeil majored in biology, and served the department as both a stockroom worker and teaching assistant for general chemistry. He also actively participated in Shrader Club, A cappella choir and the commuter council, and did research in the Physics Department with Dr. Cornely over the summer of 2016. J.T., however, attributes most of his success in being accepted as an intern to his four and a half years of experience with ENC's Animal Caretakers Team. McNeil joined the team back in 2012 during his freshman year and was running the organization within two years up until his graduation in January. This unique opportunity offered by ENC made J.T.'s recent decision to attend veterinary school much simpler, giving him access to a promising internship in a competitive field, as well as familiarity with animals some might consider "exotic."
When on the job, McNeil starts his day at 8:45am and finishes up by 8pm, leaving no time for additional work or internships. The daily tasks required by the internships vary widely, from the calculation and administration of medications and processing of incoming wild animals to the feeding of all of the educational animals, including a skink, red-tailed boa, two ball pythons, two bearded dragons, two particularly large goats and countless turtles. J.T. could additionally be called on to take X-Rays, bandage wounds and participate in surgery, requiring anesthesia, or necropsies for Odd Pet Vet patients and wildlife alike.
When asked to recount stories from his internship, McNeil reminisced briefly of his fights with a set of very aggressive goats, and the one time they attempted to give a swan a bath. One story involved a particularly unhappy Virginia opossum, admitted with facial lacerations and frostbite and suffering from lead toxicosis. Assuming the injuries were the result of a fight, the team immediately cleaned, bandaged and fed the opossum, providing it with heat, fixing the frostbite and draining the remaining abscesses. "Lead is usually stored in bones," said J.T., "right now we're doing a chelation treatment with calcium EDTA, vitamin B, thymine and lots of fluids."
McNeil plans to continue his work as a veterinary technician until he is able to attend veterinary school with hopes of becoming an exotic animal vet. Though still serving at the New England Wildlife Center, J.T. has begun working hours at the recently reopened and under-new-direction Cape Wildlife Center, where they are hoping to do more work with the community. McNeil was also recently accepted to Tufts' "Adventures in Veterinary Medicine" program, a feat he also attributes to his years of experience running the Animal Caretakers Team.
Related at ENC: Biology