Veterinarian nurtures interest in others

September 08, 2009|By JANET HEIM

HAGERSTOWN -- While many preteens fill their space with electronics equipment and video games, the basement of Cierra Quantrock's home has been converted to a veterinary clinic by Cierra and her best friend, Kathryn Dillard.

The St. Mary's Catholic School seventh-graders have been friends since fifth grade. The 12-year-olds share a love for animals and math and science that has prompted their career choice.

As a result of a story in The Herald-Mail about a Fourth of July lemonade stand fundraiser the girls held for the Humane Society of Washington County, local veterinarian Dr. Tracy Barlup of Longmeadow Animal Hospital became aware of their interest in shadowing a vet.

On Aug. 4, the girls and Cierra's older sister, Sydney Quantrock, spent the morning with Barlup and her staff. Sydney, 13, wants to be a pediatrician and had also helped with the July 4 fundraiser.


"It's important for youngsters to see firsthand. With four years of undergraduate school and four years of vet school, it's a big commitment," Barlup said. "It gets them to focus on schoolwork early. You can't ignore science early on (if you want to be a vet)."

The girls observed pet wellness visits as well as sick visits, saw a spay or neuter procedure and saw routine vaccinations being administered.

"This is the best part of the job, getting to play with puppies and kittens," Barlup told the girls as she examined a 6-week-old Siberian husky.

The girls -- whose Paradise Manor basement vet clinic includes puppy training brochures from PetSmart and supplies for bathing, caring for and training their own dogs -- were appreciative of the shadowing experience.

"It's a cool learning experience. It will help us decide if we want to be a vet or work with animals," Kathryn Dillard said. "We'll definitely go home and play vet clinic with the cases we saw today."

Kathryn has a golden retriever puppy, and Cierra and Sydney have a Saint Bernard and a bull mastiff.

Barlup makes a point of allowing students to shadow for Eighth Grade Day-on-the-Job, as well as allowing Hagerstown Community College vet assistant program students to observe.

She has strong convictions about supporting girls interested in the science-based field.

"I want girls to realize they can be anything boys can be. I encourage them to follow their dreams and be what they want to be," Barlup said.

She added that education and supportive parents are critical for success.

"Thankfully, these ladies have very supportive parents," Barlup said.

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