Lending A Helping Paw

Brandon Stein may have an “odd job”; however, it is a rewarding one.


Lauren Schulz, Staff Writer

Is “working” an odd concept?

Whenever they’re old enough and eligible to, a large majority of high school students tend to seek out employment. Most may gravitate towards working in fast food, others towards retail, and possibly even more towards local family or small businesses–or areas where their guardians already work.

However, there are some students who take a much more…interesting route, and start working at a job that is not quite as commonplace for the average high school student.

Brandon Stein, a current senior of Elkhart High School, works one of these “odd-jobs”: “I work at Animal Care Clinic North, or ACCN, and I’ve been there since October 2020.”

Stein works as a vet assistant as well as a kennel attendant. “[It’s] definitely the most rewarding and enjoyable part of my life,” Stein admits. “I do just about everything–from handling customers, to helping in restraints, to cleaning, and to—my favorite part—giving care to all our patients.”

When detailing what an typical day on the job is like, Stein offers this: “An average day at work starts with me coming in at 12:30 p.m., and instantly working on doing stock checks and deep-cleaning of all the exam rooms. Around 2:00, I switch to front desk duties, like doing check-ins and rooming.” Stein continues, “At 3:00, I switch to my kennel duties, where I clean up cages and the cage runs, fill chemicals, and do a number of other cleaning-related tasks–and, at 6:00, my shift is over and I leave!”

Good friends of Stein can likely recount the times that Stein has come up to them, relaying the often grotesque events that happened at one time or another on the job–the content of such stories is often not for the faint of heart. “Well, the best experiences I’ve had included assisting in emergency surgery and helping with a C-section,” Stein recalls, sparing any of the specific details. “Those have definitely been my most rewarding experiences.” Stein then continues on, more grimly. “I’ve had a lot of negative experiences with my job (which are mostly emergencies),” Stein confides. “The worst thing I’ve ever seen was likely when I saw an emergency where a kitten was brought in, who had been hit by a lawn mower.” Stein shudders with a shake of the head, before saying, “I still see that cat in my head to this day.”

Despite how depressing the job can be, Stein keeps up a positive attitude towards it all, and tends to enjoy telling stories about some of the all-too-frequent oddities of the job. “Some of the strangest occurrences of my job have likely been when people will just,” pausing briefly, “bring in crazy stuff. One time, a girl just brought in a mason jar full of water and worms–the parasitic kind. And, that’s just one of the weird occurrences that happens daily there.”

However odd it may be to have a job like this, Stein tells that the experience  has aided in personal growth and development.  Along with that, Stein now has developed skills that are useful and quite often required, in the field of veterinary medicine and practice. “I’ve learned a lot from working at the clinic. I’ve learned to do a lot of things in a veterinary sense, and I know a number of medical issues, how to identify them, and then how to treat them, as well.” Stein says, which adds to the fact that Stein wants to eventually work full-time in the veterinary field once Stein graduates, and not only shows how Stein has come to this pathway in life, but also how prepared Stein is already to go down it.”

Brandon Stein offers advice for others who may want to explore this sort of career or pathway in life: “My advice to anyone wanting to go into the field is that they need to know that this isn’t just a job where you play with cute animals and give shots—I’ve seen some things that I’ll never be able to unsee. Anyone interested in someday joining this field can’t just love animals, they have to have a true passion for animals and treating them. This job and career is no joke—it truly is an amazing career—but it is extremely hard sometimes.”