Vet Interns Pulling Blood from a Cat

Internship Program for Diversity Growing at JHS

The love we have for our pets connects us to each other. Studies have shown that pet owners fundamentally share the same view of their pets – they are family. As the love for pets grows, so does the desire to work with them.

Careers in animal welfare are on the rise as more Americans are adding pets to their families and pet adoption becomes increasingly popular. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, careers in animal care are projected to grow by 22% between 2019 and 2029, which is higher than the average of 4% growth for other career fields with similar skill sets.

Jacksonville Humane Society staff members participating in a photo shoot with two dogs adopted from JHS in the veterinary services division of our building

However, statistics also show that while pet ownership spans all races and ethnicities, the fields of veterinary medicine and animal welfare are predominantly white. A 2019 study by the National Center for Bioethics in Research & Health Care and Tuskegee University revealed that minorities only make up 8% of the veterinary workforce.

The Jacksonville Humane Society is working to change that with support from our community and partners.

In the spring of 2021, JHS piloted a program to enroll students of color from Frank H. Peterson Academies, a Duval County Public School, in internships with our team of medical professionals. Students spent 250 hours working under the supervision of our Doctors of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) to master nine competencies.

Peterson Intern Savanna Rolling Surgery Pack
Student Savannah assembling surgical packs during her internship

Students learned a variety of skills, including performing exams, drawing blood, administering vaccines, and even assisting during surgery! They were also given a first-hand experience of having a career in an animal shelter and what it means to work towards a lifesaving goal in their community.

Throughout the internship, students were granted stipends to help support their efforts. Each student also finished the program by taking the official exam to become a Certified Veterinary Technician’s Assistant. Students in our summer program become certified as Fear Free professionals.

Vet Interns Pulling Blood from a Cat
Interns Amya and Diamond drawing blood for testing from a cat during the intake process in our shelter medicine exam room

Each intern has their own hopes and dreams when it comes to their next steps. Recent graduate Savannah Davis shared, “This opportunity helped me to see that Veterinarian Science is the field for me and that it is the place for me to be!”

These internships are supported by grants from our community partners, including the Romay Davis Belonging, Diversity and Inclusion Grant from the Southeastern Grocers Gives Foundation, the parent company of local Winn-Dixie and Harveys Supermarkets. At 102, Ms. Davis is the oldest living of a Black World War II female unit. She worked at her local Winn-Dixie from age 80 to 101. The grant named in her honor helps address racial disparities in education, health care, and food insecurity.

Intern Elane thanks Ms. Romay Davis and Winn-Dixie while helping underage kittens.

To date, eight students have graduated from the program and more are enrolled for the fall semester. More schools have joined the program, too. JHS is thankful for each student’s dedication and hard work – we are excited to see their careers advance and know they will have a positive impact on pets and the people who love them!

In the media, with special thanks to Erik Avanier at WJXT News4Jax:

For more information:

Thank You To Our Sponsors and Partners

Sponsors for DEI Grants

Please visit our program sponsors and partners:

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