Success Stories

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Katherine Franz

Animals have always played an important role in Katherine Franz’s life. She has had a passion to care for and protect them ever since she was a little girl. As a child, Katherine would help lost animals by bringing them home and fostering them until she was able to find their family. She says “I’ve been blessed with the ability to communicate with animals, serving as an interpreter, to help people understand why animals do what they do.” Throughout her life, Katherine has frequently volunteered at shelters and rescues as well as pet sat for friends and neighbors. She’s held a number of positions in different career fields over the years, but always gravitated towards working with animals.

Being a military spouse, Katherine was seeking a portable career that would allow her to work with animals. She first heard about Animal Behavior College (ABC) while watching Animal Planet. The ABC advertisement directly addressed military spouses and discounted tuition rates. The courses offered by ABC intrigued her as she is continuously in pursuit of educational opportunities to better herself. Katherine comments “I saw the ABC Veterinary Assistant Program as a way to open many doors for me in the animal industry.”

Katherine had a positive experience in the ABC Veterinary Assistant Program. She explains, “There were many people I worked with on my journey with ABC and all have been professional and accommodating. My Program Manager, Vesna Smedberg, was an integral part of my success and I truly appreciate her support. The staff at the mentoring hospital was very knowledgeable and eager to work with a student. I was able to observe many advanced procedures as well as assist some lovely patients. The hands-on experience was extremely valuable and complimented the coursework provided by ABC.”

As a recent graduate, Katherine is currently seeking a position at a no-kill shelter. In the meantime, she is furthering her studies by participating in two ABC continuing education programs, Cat Management Training and Pet Sitting and Dog Walking.


Lindsey McDonald

Ever since Lindsey McDonald can remember, she has always cared for a variety of animals. She says “I would always joke with my friends that I've probably had every kind of animal you can have as a pet, from ferrets to dogs, and everything in between.” Lindsey did not realize that her love for animals would eventually turn into a career that would help them.

In high school, Lindsey thought that she wanted to become a doctor “when she grew up” but quickly realized that she did not have a passion for the medical field in relation to humans. In an attempt to earn some extra money, she applied for a job working in the kennels at a local veterinary facility. There, she would care for the general well being of the dogs which entailed cleaning the kennels, providing them with food and water and administering medication if necessary. After a year of working in the kennels, Lindsey was promoted to work one on one with the veterinary technicians and gained experience in restraining animals, administering IV fluids, preparing medications, and even drawing blood.

During this time, Lindsey also developed a passion for cars, and as time progressed decided to leave the veterinary field to pursue a career as an automotive service advisor. Not enjoying the automotive industry as much as she thought, Lindsey began "searching for herself." “I began taking odd jobs to see what I like and didn't like, but every year, like clock-work I was expected to take my beloved animals to the vet for their routine exams” she says. It was during those routine veterinary visits that Lindsey recognized that she truly missed working with animals and other people who had the same passion as she did. After some online research, she located a school she could afford as well as one that allowed her to continue to work: Animal Behavior College! She made one phone call and was enrolled immediately. Lindsey comments “My experience with ABC was excellent. I couldn't have asked for a better program manager or externship coordinator. I learned so much through the studies, but the best part of the program was the hands-on externship.” Lindsey is looking forward to working as a certified veterinary assistant and finally pursuing her passion.


Jennifer Contessa

Ever since Jennifer Contessa can remember she had a connection with animals and wanted to work with them. She says, “I was the girl playing outside with ants and rescuing spiders. While everyone else thought I was crazy, I knew that even though that creature was much smaller than I, it had a purpose and a right not to be stomped on.”

Even though Jennifer knew that she wanted a career in the animal industry, she thought it was important to pursue a college education. She earned a Bachelor’s and later a Master’s degree at Long Island University in New York. While Jennifer was a student, she kept her motivation infused by working as a bather in a local grooming salon. The shop owners recognized her potential and urged her to go to school for grooming. Although flattered by the compliment, Jennifer says “deep down I knew I wanted to work in the veterinary field. My passion lies with improving the quality of life of an animal rather than their appearance.”

Jennifer began researching various veterinary assistant programs and finally decided to apply to Animal Behavior College. “From the first phone call to the final exam, everyone at the college took their time to get to know me and answer any questions I had. The school was very flexible and because of that, I was able to complete my work at home at my own pace without compromising anything happening in my busy life,” she comments. Jennifer felt that the techniques discussed in the ABC veterinary assistant curriculum effectively prepared her for the externship portion of the program. She remarks, “I felt completely confident starting my internship at Farmingville Animal Hospital. Only after a month of working there, the hospital hired me and I’ve been working there ever since.”

ABC helped Jennifer achieve her goal of becoming a veterinary assistant and is grateful to all the teachers and counselors who were there for her along the way. Her ultimate dream for the future is to open her own animal shelter where she can care for critters and pass on her knowledge to other animal lovers.


Shelly Tarr

Shelly Tarr has always had a love for animals. She believes that “your life is incomplete without them.” At her home in Indiana, Shelly cares for four dogs and four cats and makes it her business to get to know every dog on the block personally. When she discovered that military spouses were being offered grants to earn an education to pursue a “portable career,” she jumped at the opportunity. She thought back to her passion for animals and began researching schools that specialized in that field. Shelly had worked at a veterinary hospital previously and knew it would a career path she would thoroughly enjoy. That’s when she found Animal Behavior College. She says “What better way to spend my spare time than to play and care for critters?”

Shelly enrolled into both the ABC Veterinary Assistant Program and the Dog Obedience Program. The fact that the coursework and curriculum was available online suited Shelly’s busy schedule. She was able to earn her certification while still caring for her family and working. Shortly after enrolling in veterinary assistant program, a stable manager position for the Military Department of Indiana Ceremonial Unit Caisson Platoon became available. Shelley applied and was awarded the job. “I believe that I got the job because I was dual enrolled at Animal Behavior College. They enjoyed my enthusiasm and liked the fact that I was attending a school that was relevant to my new job,” she comments.

Shelly did the externship portion of the program at Knightstown Veterinary Hospital where she passed with flying colors. She found her externship experience to be extremely valuable, Shelly says “working at the hospital allowed me to understand things about the veterinary world that I would have never learned any other way.” After her externship, Shelly was asked to stay on as an assistant in the clinic, but she already considered working with the Caissson Platoon to be the “best job in the world” and wanted to stay with her “giant boys [horses]” at the barn.

ABC’s veterinary assistant program provided Shelly with the academic foundation and hands-on experience she needed to achieve her goals. Her program manager, Ashlie, proved to be very helpful in understanding the curriculum as well as being a great resource- making her experience with ABCVA a wonderful one.


Nivedita Baliga

Rio, my Labrador, came into my life when I was in college. He changed my life forever....

He was full of life and I looked after him like a mother. I saw him grow from a little puppy to an adult. His antics kept me peppy and happy, no matter what struggles the day presented. He would wake me up in the morning and was always begging me to play with him. Our bond grew stronger by the day and the affection turned into true love. I am originally from India, but my job took me away from home. After marriage, I joined my husband in the United States. I started missing Rio immensely but made friends with all the dogs in the neighborhood. Due to moving regulations, Rio was forced to stay with my parents in India where he is keeping them company.

I felt a void in my life and decided to take a sabbatical from my work to discover what I was truly passionate about. As the saying goes, “the best things in life are never planned.” I started volunteering at a local animal shelter. I loved taking the dogs for long walks and helping pets get adopted. Helping cats and dogs find a new home gave me immense pleasure. My work at the shelter motivated me to start looking for a course that would train me for a career in the veterinary field. I saw the positive reviews for Animal Behavior College and immediately knew that it was the school for me. The Veterinary Assistant Program would allow me to help animals in need while also working in my area of interest. After a long discussion with my husband, I was convinced that I should follow this path.

My Program Manager, Penny, was amazing. She was always available to answer any questions or concerns I had regarding the curriculum. She had a way of explaining the concepts so that I could easily understand them. I was able to work at my own pace and appreciated the fact that I could study in the comfort of my own home.

After passing the first nine stages, I was ready for the most crucial part of the course, the externship. Daniella, my externship coordinator, worked with me to find a veterinary hospital that was close to my home. I had the opportunity to intern with Dr. Brown at Pet Vet Animal Hospital. The hands-on experience is an indispensable portion of the program. It reaffirmed all that I had learned in the last year and boosted my confidence at the veterinary facility.

Once I completed my externship, it was time for the final exam. The exam jitters caught me by surprise but Penny came to my rescue yet again. She reviewed the material with me and was helpful in clearing my doubts. I successfully completed the veterinary assistant course and was thrilled when I received my certificate in the mail. I look forward to stating my career in the veterinary field. Enrolling in ABC proved to be the best decision I have ever made. I do not think I could have done this without the continuous encouragement and support from my husband Arvind, as well as my program manager Penny. Thanks to them, I can proudly claim to be an ABCVA!


Jillian Hoy

Jillian Hoy was born in Fairbanks, Alaska in 1992 and moved to Redding, California in 2001. Being an only child, her parents made the decision to home school her from Kindergarten through 12th grade. While she was engrossed in a one on one education experience, she grew up with plenty of animal friends who surrounded her throughout her childhood.

Jillian graduated from Liberty Baptist Academy in the spring of 2010, and her long-time compassion for animals led her to consider and pursue a career-path working with her furry friends. She discovered Animal Behavior College and enrolled in the Vet Assistant Program in the fall of 2010. Jillian says she naturally felt drawn to working in the animal field, and felt that becoming a vet assistant would be the perfect career choice for her.

Jillian excelled during the in-home study portion of the program. She enjoyed the independence and convenience of learning from home and she was quickly able to complete all of the course work. She quickly passed her exams before eagerly moving onto the externship portion of the program in May of 2011.

“My externship coordinator set me up at Cottonwood Veterinary Clinic in Cottonwood, CA. I learned so much during my externship, and with each day that passed, I grew more certain and confident that I had made the right decision in pursuing a career as a certified vet assistant." Jillian’s hands-on training at Cottonwood Veterinary Clinic went so well, in fact, that upon her completion of the externship, she was offered a position as a veterinary assistant in their facility. “I have been working there for five months now, and I love every minute of it. I am learning so much, and putting a lot of what I learned from ABC into practice. My favorite part of my job as a vet assistant is working side by side with the veterinarians and helping them help the animals. It is always so rewarding!”

Since graduating ABC, Jillian has decided to continue her education with the intention of becoming a registered veterinary technician. “ABC helped me solidify what I wanted my career to be, and at such a young age I am doing what a lot of people only dream of doing.”


Paola Velasquez

After years as a mortgage recruiter, Paola Velasquez, ABCVA, decided that the down turned economy was an excellent time to pursue her lifelong dream of working in a vet clinic.

Since she had no experience in the veterinary field, Paola knew that she would need to gain some knowledge before trying to get a job as a Veterinary Assistant. “With the bad economy, the job market is competitive,” Paola said, “I wanted to have a foundation and some actual experience before I tried to find work.”

It was the hands-on portion that led Paola to enroll in Animal Behavior College ’s (ABC) Certified Veterinary Assistant Program. “The externship was awesome,” Paola said, “I was being taught something different everyday and it really got my foot in the door of the industry.” Although she loved her externship, Paola found ABC’s textbooks to be an abundant source of knowledge. “The detail in the books and CD’s ABC gave me were great, I use things I learned all the time at work,” Paola said.

Paola also believes that ABC’s Program Managers are yet another source that sets the program apart from the competition. “Ashlie, my Program Manager, was amazing! Other schools just hand you a book to read on your own,” Paola explains, “However, the Program Managers are professionals who were there to answer all my questions and explain in detail when I did not understand a concept.”

After graduation from Animal Behavior College ’s Certified Veterinary Assistant Program, Paola did not have to wait long to find her dream job. The emergency vet clinic where she did her externship, hired her on the spot. “The doctor told me that one of the main reasons he hired me was because of my work during the externship,” Paola explains, “I treated it like a real job and worked hard. It paid off. In addition, because of my experience and certification, there was less I needed to learn, making his job easier.”

Paola has moved quickly up the ranks at her vet hospital where she is now, just a few months later, one of the lead veterinarian technicians. She plans on continuing her education to become a Registered Veterinarian Technician and is thankful she took that first step and enrolled at ABC.


Lea Carabello

Lea Carabello, ABCVA, was working as a county crime scene investigator but had always dreamed of having a career where she could help animals instead. With help from ABC’s Certified Veterinary Assistant program, she was able to make the transition to becoming her county’s Animal Health Investigator. “At the interview, I was told that I was the only person they were interviewing and the only one they wanted because I had a certificate, proving that I had the knowledge and experience necessary to do the job,” said Lea.

While still working as a crime scene investigator, Lea knew it was time to pursue a career with animals and began searching for a college that would fit her needs. Since she needed to keep working while training for her new career, Lea searched for a veterinary assistant program that would fit around her schedule. “I am one of those people that learn better at my own pace, so I wanted an online program,” said Lea.

Animal Behavior College’s (ABC) Certified Veterinary Assistant Program was the perfect fit for Lea’s educational goals. ABC’s online course allowed her to continue working while she trained for her new career at her own pace, in the comfort of her home. ABC’s hands-on training component ensured that Lea was able to practically apply all she had learned at home in a real veterinary environment.

Lea’s favorite part of the ABC program was by far her externship, which she completed at Adobe Veterinary Clinic. “I loved the hands-on part of my program,” Lea said, “I also loved that I got to pick the vet. I spoke to several and picked the one I was most comfortable with.”

The hands-on portion is what makes ABC’s program stand-out from the competition, according to Lea. “It really gave me a taste of what it is like to work for a veterinarian and because of the knowledge I already had, the vet let me do work that was normally reserved for vet techs, not vet assistants,” she said.

Lea was also pleased with the program’s value and the way she was treated. “It wasn’t unbelievable expensive, but you were provided with everything, even the scrubs!” she said, “In addition, I was never confused with where I was supposed to be or how to do something online. Everyone I talked to always answered my questions; I never got ‘I don’t know’ from anyone. They were professional and nice.”

Upon graduation, Lea learned of an internal job opening for the county as the Animal Health Investigator. ABC’s Certified Veterinary Assistant Program gave Lea the boost she needed when it came to finding what she considers to be her dream job – helping animals whom, without her would not have a voice, get justice.


Paul Schmid

Paul Schmid decided it was “now or never” for him to pursue a career that involved his true love of working with pets. So at age 51, Paul decided to leave the electrometrical industry, where he was working, to follow finally follow his dream of working with animals.

Paul felt burned out at his current job and wanted an occupation where he could put his compassion to good use by helping pets and their parents. He decided on a career as a Veterinary Assistant, where he knew his people skills would come in handy when pet owners were faced with hard decisions.

However, Paul knew it was important to obtain a certification before jumping into the veterinary industry. “It behooves you to get experience before you try to get a job in any field.” Paul said “Veterinarians really like it when you have already been exposed to the job duties because then they know for sure you will love your work.”

Paul chose Animal Behavior College’s (ABC) Certified Veterinary Assistant program because of the school’s curriculum. “I really liked the 11-stage format and how much time you had to complete each part,” said Paul. Since he was still working as a Project Manager, the flexibility of the online course allowed him to finish the program according to his schedule. He also found his ABC Program Manager, Penny Derbyshire-Baldyga, to be extremely helpful in answering any questions he had throughout his veterinary assistant training.

Since Paul knew that Veterinarians are looking for experience when hiring, he found ABC’s externship course at an emergency vet center to be a priceless opportunity. “I got to do all kinds of stuff, including injections, filling prescriptions, and talking with the pet owners,” said Paul. Each ABC Veterinary Assistant student participates in a hands-on training externship at a local veterinary hospital/clinic where they can put their theoretical knowledge to use in a working environment; learning one-on-one from veterinary staff. For Paul, this proved to be a vital part of his education.

It was so rewarding, in fact, that Paul still volunteers at the hospital where he did his externship. “They are going to hire me as soon as they can afford it,” Paul explains. “Right now, I like volunteering because it keeps my skills up.”

Paul believes that his ABC Certification is one of the main reasons he is given more responsibilities than his colleagues. “I get to do a lot of things the other Vet Assistants do not, including x-rays, because of my prior experience.” Paul said. “I recommend Animal Behavior College’s program to all the receptionists at the hospital who are thinking about becoming Veterinary Assistants.”

With his Animal Behavior College Veterinary Assistant Certification (ABCVA), Paul now has a career where he can look forward to going to work everyday; something that he believes is the secret to happiness.


Judy Menetre

After being a stay-at-home mom who worked for The Pampered Chef for 10 years, Judy Menetre knew she needed a new career that would not only make her happy, but support her financially. Lucky, one of Judy’s friends knew she was looking to go back to school and suggested Animal Behavior College’s Certified Vet Assistant program. Judy instantly knew that it would be the perfect career for her, since her first love had always been animals. She also knew that Animal Behavior College’s (ABC) in-home study program with hands-on training would be an ideal fit for a stay-at-home mom. The program allowed her to study at her own convenience and the local externship made it easy for her to get the hands-on training needed to work in the veterinary field.

Judy recalls that the support she received from her ABC Program Manager, Ashlie Herring, RVT, was one of the best things about the course. “Ashlie was great about answering my questions in a timely manner,” Judy said. “She even helped me with my resume after I had already graduated. She didn’t have to, but she did.” In fact, this additional help resulted in Judy finding a job almost immediately after graduating!

Although Judy did not have any veterinary experience prior to enrolling at ABC, she found that her certification really gave her a leg up on the competition when looking for a job. “I took my resume and went in-person to the vet offices in my area,” said Judy. “I got a job offer on the second day! I was amazed, and really happy.”

“The knowledge and verbiage I learned during the Veterinary Assistant program at ABC has allowed me, a complete novice in the industry, to be able to understand what the doctor is talking about, which has really impressed the staff,” Judy said. Not only did her ABC certification help Judy get a new job, but the experience she gained has helped her enormously at work and will continue to do so as she advances in the veterinary industry.


Lesley Wilson

Lesley Wilson, ABCVT, enrolled at Animal Behavior College (ABC) in March of 2008 to become a Certified Veterinary Assistant. Just a year and a half later, she is now working as a Surgery Technician Assistant at a veterinary hospital in Santa Cruz, CA where she currently lives.

Lesley had a variety of different jobs throughout her life. After taking some time off work, she decided it was time to go back with a purpose, “I took the ABC Vet Assistant course so that I could return to the working world doing something I loved,” she said.

Lesley had moved to Santa Cruz with her husband who was pursuing his career working for the University of California Santa Cruz. The ABC program is designed to be flexible and convenient so it allowed Lesley to learn from anywhere in the United States which made continuing her education easy, even while she was moving.

After Lesley completed the extensive in-home study portion of the ABC program, she was paired up with a local veterinary hospital where she would perform her hands-on training externship.

“I was lucky enough to be taken on at the Felton Veterinary Hospital for my externship. It is a smaller practice in my home town of Felton (just 10 minutes from Santa Cruz).“Lucky for me, the three doctors and the team of nurses were very supportive, extremely helpful, patient and excellent teachers. I wouldn’t be where I was today without them. The externship was my favorite bit of the course,” said Lesley.

After completing her 80 hours of hands-on training at the veterinary hospital, Lesley successfully passed her final exam. She graduated from ABC with honors, meaning she scored over 90% on all of her exams and externship.

Today Lesley has a career doing what she loves, caring for animals. She says, “I was hired on a part-time basis at the hospital where I did my externship as an Veterinary Assistant. I later took a second part-time job as a Radiation Assistant in a much larger hospital, Santa Cruz Veterinary Hospital (SCVH). Two weeks ago, I accepted a new position at SCVH as a surgery technician assistant. This is particularly exciting because the surgery days at Felton where always my favorite…now every day is a surgery day!”

Lesley says the most rewarding part of her job is being able to comfort the animals that are in pain or are just plain nervous. She believes that a good Veterinary Assistant must be “A good communicator, provider of good customer service, posses the ability to spontaneously adjust work flow, have a strong stomach and of course, have a compassion for animals.”

Lesley’s empathy for animals along with her education from Animal Behavior College has helped her thrive as a Certified Veterinary Assistant. She is grateful for her certification because she knows it has given her an advantage over others who are not certified. “A lot of assistants seem to work up from a kennel type background. I was lucky to skip that whole step and walked into being a nurse with all kinds of knowledge and skills that the kennel workers take months or even years to gain,” she says.


Teresa Cabrera

Having formerly worked in apartment management for 10 years, Teresa Cabrera, ABCVA, became ready for a career change and wanted her new job to allow her to be surrounded by furry friends. “I have always wanted to work with animals since they are my passion,” she says. “I came to a point in my life where I was able to make a career change and knew it was the right time.”

Teresa located Animal Behavior College (ABC) and enrolled in March of 2008 to put her career change on the fast track. The ABC program consists of an in-home study portion coupled with invaluable hands-on training available to students nationwide. The ease of the study materials along with guidance from her Program Manager, Penny, helped Teresa to excel during the in-home study portion of the program and prepare for her externship.

Once Teresa had completed her book work and passed all of her exams, it came time for her hands-on externship in which she volunteered 80 hours at a veterinary clinic in her area to practice what she had learned in a real-life veterinary setting. She was set up with the Vet Clinic of Palm Harbor, Florida where she was able to gain added guidance and assistance in mastering the tasks of a veterinary assistant. “The experience was awesome and the staff is very friendly,” she says. Actually, Teresa continues to volunteer with the Vet Clinic of Palm Harbor to this day as extra preparation for her career in veterinary assisting. With each passing day, she becomes more and more aware of the various aspects of the job. “My most rewarding moments have been when I have been able to perform tasks on my own after completing my externship,” she says.

Teresa sincerely recognizes the importance of the role of the veterinary assistant in an animal hospital and in today’s society. “Veterinary assistants are important because there aren’t enough people in the world that truly care about animals and have the desire to help educate the world about the needs of animals,” she says. As an ardent animal lover who admits that “animals are my true love, and they bring me happiness,” she has a bright future ahead of her working as a compassionate, well-educated veterinary assistant since graduating from the ABC Veterinary Assistant training program in October of 2008.

Teresa does not plan on halting her education here; she hopes to continue on to become a Certified Veterinary Technician. She explains that her ABC education laid a strong foundation for her future veterinary endeavors. “The curriculum covers everything you will be doing, not only as a veterinary assistant but as a veterinary technician.” To others wishing to work in the veterinary field, she describes the crucial characteristics of a person who works with animals – “Compassion, professionalism, dependability, empathy, understanding, and a desire to continue learning and growing in the industry,” she says.

As a confident ABC graduate and Certified Veterinary Assistant, Teresa knows that her ABC education has given her an advantage over other people wishing to become veterinary assistants. “I have an official certificate and the hands-on experience to back me up,” she explains. With her new ABC certification, she is now searching for a job as a veterinary assistant with confidence and pride. She knows that this career will help her to help animals, and that to her is a dream fulfilled. “It has already opened my eyes to different types of illnesses and needs that animals have that I never knew possible,” she says. “It has shown me that animals are not that different from humans in terms of what they need for healthcare.”

Teresa currently lives and works in Palm Harbor, Florida with her four cats, rabbit, and three fish.


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