Co-op students Hailey Brinkman and Victoria Adams, Dr. Scott Reid, technician Katie Quinn. DON RICKERS

“It’s not about me, it’s about the students who are the future”

Many high schools offer co-op programs as a way of providing students with a hands-on approach to the working world.

For students with placements at the Balfour Animal Hospital in Fenwick, hands can get scratched, or even bitten. But there’s no danger pay. It’s all in a day’s work.

The Voice recently visited the clinic to observe students working under the tutelage of Dr. Scott Reid, an award-winning veterinarian who has served for decades as a mentor to hundreds of students.

“Many of my students are interested in working with animals as veterinarians, or as registered veterinary technicians [RVTs],” said Reid. “The RVTs are the unsung heroes of veterinary medicine, performing blood tests, inserting intravenous drips, administering medications, and getting animals prepped for surgery. I supervise, do the surgeries, and prescribe treatment and meds, but a lot of the work in veterinary clinics is done by RVTs.”

Reid points to Katie Quinn, his RVT overseeing E.L. Crossley co-op students Hailey Brinkman and Victoria Adams as they assess Tom, a ten-year-old feral cat. The physical examination requires that the students establish Tom’s heart and respiratory rates, along with other vital signs.

“Katie supervises them and does a lot of the teaching. I deal with the surgery component, but Katie does all the monitoring. She’s a very skilled RVT,” said Reid. “Katie attended the Ridgetown campus of the University of Guelph, near Chatham. It has a tremendous RVT program.”

Quinn said that her days are busy with all kinds of veterinary procedures, such as assisting with surgeries, spaying and neutering, lump removals, dental cleaning and extractions, and occasionally euthanasia of animals.

“Tom was an outdoor barn cat for much of his life,” said Quinn. “He had frostbite to his ears and his nose, and was in rough shape when he was first brought in. Today, he’s pretty healthy.”

Reid was recently recognized for three and a half decades of exemplary service, and was awarded the Golden Life Membership Award from the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA). The award honours a veterinarian who has served the profession for at least 30 years and has made extraordinary contributions to animal welfare and veterinary medicine.

A group of Reid’s former students nominated him for the award.

His passion for zoological medicine led him to work with unique species at various zoos in southern Ontario, including the African Lion Safari. Reid has written a book, My Book of Memories, about his adventures and experiences working as a veterinarian.

“For as long as I have known Scott, he has had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and unwavering passion for the practice of veterinary medicine,” says colleague and friend Dr. Steve Backman in a press release. “His passion for his profession is only matched by his compassion for the animals in his care and support for the emotional well-being of their owners.”

Reid has been in practice for 35 years

“The veterinary profession is a small community,” said Reid. “My friend and former student, Dr. Ivan Bos, started the Balfour practice in 2012, and he worked for me when he first graduated. I owned a vet clinic in Dunnville for 25 years, and then 10 years ago became a locum [fill-in]. I’ve been with the Balfour clinic for two and a half years now, helping out four days a week.

Reid graduated at age 23 from the Guelph Veterinary College in 1987. He still resides in Dunnville, but enjoys the leisurely 25 minute drive to Fenwick four days each week.

“The people here in Fenwick are wonderful, and have known me for many years because I used to do house calls here in the past,” he said.

He is zealous about constantly updating his knowledge.

“I go to conferences, and do daily readings,” said Reid. “I probably log 300 hours a year in continuing education. You learn a lot by talking to other veterinarians. Every day I learned something new.”

Reid will receive his award at a veterinary conference in July, at the Western Harbour Castle Hotel in Toronto.

“It’s all been quite overwhelming,” he said. “But I still think my most important contributions are through teaching. My job, as I see it at this stage of my career, is to share information and mentor the next generation of veterinary professionals.”