A 2004 Seneca East High School graduate says animals always have been a big part of her life.
Cassie Bayer, who is in her last year of working toward a doctorate in veterinary medicine, grew up on a farm, and her family raised hogs.
She said it has been a childhood dream to become a veterinarian, and working at Willard Veterinary Clinic while in high school helped her decide that is what she wanted to do.
She said she likes working with cats and dogs, but likes working with cats more.
"They're just different creatures," she said.
This summer, Bayer got the chance to get hands-on work in her field.
In August, she worked three days a week at Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and a wildlife rehabilitation center next door.
According to its website, the society is a private and non-profit charity founded in 1924 and is Houston's first and largest animal protection organization and shelter. Its mission "is to promote commitment to and respect for all animals and free them from suffering, abuse and exploitation."
Bayer said she gets to do externships as part of her schooling, and she is graded for the work. She said at the facility, she got to watch the staff do spay and neuter procedures on adopted animals, prepare animals for surgery and watch them recover from anesthesia.
"It was mostly watching (during surgeries). ... They let me assist during surgery," she said.
Bayer said her favorite part of the experience was getting to see how the staff ran the shelter. She said it was interesting seeing how the staff handles intake of stray animals and manages their medical cases.
"(It) let me see how the largest shelters were ran," she said.
Bayer worked two days a week at the wildlife rehabilitation center.
"They take in any orphaned or injured wildlife in the area and rehabilitate them and release them ... if they're releasable after rehabilitation," she said.
While working at the center, Bayer fed squirrels with syringes, cleaned opossum cages and fed owls.
She said it was great getting to handle wildlife, and she never had had hands-on experience with wild animals previously. She said she learned about handling them and enjoyed working with animals.
"It's amazing how
cute baby opossums are," she said.
Bayer now is back in Mississippi to continue her studies.
She received a bachelor's degree in biology and life science from University of Findlay in 2008 and is working on a doctorate in veterinary medicine at Mississippi State University. She said she will graduate in May, and the program has been going well.
"I really enjoy it," she said.
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