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A Purr-fect Solution

Published: February 13, 2018 | Updated: February 14, 2018

Most cats need some human attention, whether they’ll admit to it or not. And veterinary assistant students need experience with cats to learn their skills. So Sharon Schieltz, the Veterinary Assistant Lead Instructor, arranged for the Charter College Oxnard campus veterinary assistant department to serve as a foster home for the Camarillo Animal Shelter.

“We always have one or two cats on the premises and the students are responsible for feeding, watering, cleaning up after them and giving them physical exams,” Schieltz says. “It gives them experience handling cats and it gives the cats the human contact they need to prepare to be adopted.”

Living on campus also gives our feline friends extra exposure, with 10 Charter College cats being adopted so far.

Charter College prepares students to become veterinary assistants (also known as animal care providers, animal caregivers and laboratory animal caretakers), the professionals who support the work of a veterinarian. Their duties could include examining animals for signs of illness, disease, or injury, feeding them, cleaning their cages and work areas, and sterilizing laboratory and surgical equipment. Veterinary assistants might also help with post-operative animal care, give medications, and prepare samples for the lab all under the supervision of veterinary or laboratory animal technologists or technicians, veterinarians or scientists.

Schieltz says her students spend time with the cats every week, weighing them, clipping their nails and providing other services they would need to do in the real world. Schieltz says the program is best suited for mature cats, as kittens can’t be left on their own over the weekend when the students aren’t on campus.

If they do see a sign of illness, they’ll get in touch with the shelter’s veterinarian, Nicole Hilde. “We call Nicole, tell her the problem and then figure out a plan together,” Schieltz says.

Charter College students and instructors bring in their own dogs, to learn similar skills on them. This also gives the cats exposure to other animals. 

“The cats get exposed to dogs in a safe environment, so they can get used to the idea of it,” Schiletz says. “Spending time here makes these cats better pets, while also giving our students the experience they need to be better, more compassionate veterinary assistants. It’s a definite win-win.”

The Ventura County Animal Shelter is located at 600 Aviation Drive at the Camarillo Airport. Dogs and cats are available for adoption on a daily basis. The fee for adoption animals varies depending upon the age sex, and type of animal. For more information, visit

For more information on Charter College’s veterinary assistant program, visit or call 888-200-9942