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Much more than magic

Working with animals takes training, experience and practice

Working with animals takes training, experience and practice

May 20, 2008|By BECKY SNOUFFER / Pulse Correspondent

The second story in an occasional series of stories about careers working with animals.

Professional magician Michael "Michael T." Meyers said he goes by the simple ABCs in his job.

"A for attitude - always positive, avoid the negative," he said. "B for belief - for me, first in my God and then in myself and in the value of others. C for control. (There's) only one person we can control and that is ourselves, what we do, what we say, what we learn, and what we teach."

Meyers is based in Martinsburg, W.Va., but works as a magician throughout the East Coast. He says that there is no requirement or specific education to be a magician, but he recommends learning about theater, drama and public speaking. He says that education in those areas can increase "a performer's ability to communicate properly with their audience."

Meyers performs magic acts with his animals. He currently has two doves (Shadrach and Meshack) and two rabbits (Boots and Oreo). His first bunny was named Haredini.

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Meyers said that his animals can be unpredictable, but they are a very important part of his shows. Some of his animals really enjoy the attention, while others are very shy.

"It is hard to tell if my animals really enjoy performing," he said. "But I can tell you this: They enjoy all the attention they get after the performance from all the kids and adults who want to pet them, look at them and talk to them."

If any teens want to know more about becoming a magician - not just "how do you do that trick?" - go to Michael T's Web site, Michaelts.com, or call him and leave a message at 304-263-2858.

Working at the humane society

Animal care technician, customer service representative and field service officer are some examples of careers at the Humane Society of Washington County.

I talked to Debbie Porterfield, the animal care and customer service manager at the shelter. She described working at the humane society as rewarding, because the employees are able to give animals a second chance in life.

You don't need to have much experience to work at the Humane Society, but you do need a high school diploma or GED, and, Porterefield said, you have to be prepared for "a lot of hard work."

It can be an emotional place to work. Porterfield said that in her job, there is disappointment - seeing animals who have been abused or neglected - and then joy - seeing these same animals find new homes. It is an uplifting experience for employees.

She also mentioned that volunteers help a lot. Her advice for teens who think they want to work at an animal shelter is to volunteer first to get a feel for what it's like working there. To volunteer, contact Margaret Becker, the volunteer service coordinator for the Humane Society of Washington County, at 301-733-2060.

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