Press release: Animal Behavior College
Rasha Hassanien-Hassan has always had a passion for animals, especially dogs. Growing up in Cairo, Egypt, she was well aware of the homeless animal issue and her country’s unfavorable attitude toward helping them. She knew that spaying, neutering and educating the public were the best solutions to the homeless problem and decided to become a veterinary assistant. Since veterinary assistant programs were not offered in her country, she enrolled in Animal Behavior College’s (ABC) Certified Veterinary Assistant Program (VAP). Rasha graduated in 2017 and is a certified Animal Behavior College Veterinary Assistant (ABCVA).
“I knew it was important to have professional knowledge and training because it is what makes a veterinary assistant medically effective and useful, otherwise, it is just somebody with a good heart trying to help [animals] and not actually knowing how or what to do,” Rasha said.
Dogs are not always man’s best friend. In some countries, such as Egypt, homeless dogs present health and safety issues for citizens. In fact, it is estimated that 15 million stray dogs roam the streets, according to the Egypt Independent, and many of them have not been vaccinated and carry rabies. Earlier this year the General Organization for Veterinary Services in Giza reported that 398,000 people were bitten by dogs in 2017 and 65 died from their injuries.
“Egypt has a lot of human [welfare] problems—poverty, lack of education and health issues,” Rasha said. “What is missing in all of this is the animal welfare part. How could we solve human health and welfare problems without including the improvement of animal health conditions, too?”
It was while volunteering at several overcrowded animal shelters that Rasha realized her life’s mission to help animals and improve their living conditions. Many of the dogs that arrived were emaciated, injured, had skin diseases and had been abused. Rasha interacted and socialized some of them to increase their chances for adoption. But despite her efforts, very few were adopted and the shelters’ populations continued to increase.
“I wanted to do more to improve their health and living conditions and find better solutions that would ensure the wellbeing of these animals,” she said.
While completing the online portion of the curriculum, Rasha applied and received a U.S. student visa and relocated to Florida where she completed her Externship. After taking the final examination and graduating with honors in May 2017, she returned to Egypt.
Rasha joined Worldwide Veterinary Service, a global charity that offers free veterinary care to animals in need. She volunteered at shelters in India, Romania and Thailand, and is currently working with a group of veterinarians in Cairo to create the first-ever education, awareness and training center to educate veterinary students and graduates about the importance of sterilizing and immunizing domestic and stray animals. The group hopes to change the publics’ attitude about homeless animals so they are more compassionate and willing to help them.
“I am perhaps the first and only certified veterinary assistant in my country,” Rasha said. “I am now living my dream of helping animals in a professional way, not just by volunteering in shelters, but by providing real medical assistance to animals in need.”
This year marks the 10-year anniversary of ABC’s Veterinary Assistant Program (VAP). Since its inception, there has been an increased demand for veterinary assistants and laboratory caretakers. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment will grow 19 percent for these occupations from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. ABC’s online veterinary assistant course is one of four programs approved by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA), a distinction that is highly regarded in the veterinary community. Participants learn everything from examination room procedures and pharmacology to surgical preparation, radiology and ultrasound imaging. Upon completing the program, graduates are certified by ABC as ABCVAs. They then qualify to take NAVTA’s national examination, and if they pass, receive Approved Veterinary Assistants (AVA) designation that recognizes their accomplishments. Currently, there are 1,402 students enrolled in VAP.
As of October 31, 2018, 8,733 students in the U.S. and Canada have graduated from VAP. ABC has graduated and certified more than 27,000 students from its four core programs combined including the Dog Obedience Program, the Grooming Instruction Program and the Cat Training Program. In addition, ABC offers specialized certificates of completion in seven short-term programs on subjects including doggie daycare, pet nutrition, pet fostering and training shelter dogs.
For more information about the Veterinary Assistant Program call 800-795-3294 or visit ABC’s website.