“Jobs of the Future” is a series focusing on career paths, local job opportunities, programs, and tales of success that highlight North Bay's diverse job market.
Francis McLean is providing pet owners with a new way to help get their furry friends some pet care. McLean is offering in-home pet care services with his business called North Bay Vet Tech Services.
“So far the response has been great, people have loved what I can offer them and their pets,” says McLean, the Vet Technician who founded this North Bay business.
Those services include medical assistance, such as administration of medications, injections, urine or blood collection, bandage change, and more (full list on his website nbvts.ca/services/), as well as in-home nail trims, dog walking, pet sitting, and transportation.
“It’s a mobile service and the fact that it is at your home is a huge difference,” says McLean.
“Say for instance you have a geriatric dog that doesn’t like car rides, this service is perfect for them as it allows them to stay home and get some of the treatment they need. It’s also for animals that get stressed out being at the vet itself. Some pets, as soon as they recognize the building and know where they are going, they can go ballistic.”
Born in New Liskeard and raised in Earlton, Ontario, McLean says he was raised on a farm and has been drawn to animals ever since.
“We had beef cattle, rabbits, and chickens and my dad also had a dairy goat farm. So, I grew up with that lifestyle and I always wanted to work with animals because of that. That is where my passion comes from. When I was a teenager, I had my own rabbits and goats to care for, so this whole journey started from the farm,” says McLean who did a two-year program at Collège Boréal in New Liskeard and became a full-time Veterinary Technician which he says is the equivalent of a nurse for animals.
McLean says when he started looking to earn his diploma, what drew him to the industry was his love for animals, but he adds what has surprised him is how much he has enjoyed learning the medical side of the trade.
“Being a veterinary technician, the thing that really surprised me was how much I was drawn into liking the medical side of the business. I was going there mostly because I loved animals, but now I know so much more about medicine and I keep learning new things and new techniques and that’s what really drives me now,” he says.
McLean says one of the biggest things that he learned on the job was the discovery of how much people care about their pets.
“Growing up on a farm, for me the dog and the cat were farm animals and I cared about them probably more than my father did, but when I first started out, I never expected to have people act like these pets are members of their family and they are willing to invest thousands of dollars in taking care of them which is admirable,” he says.
“I have seen firsthand, especially when working in emergency and referral that people are so bonded to these pets and I’ve seen people get a second mortgage so that they can help their pets with whatever they need.”
Before coming to North Bay, McLean put in over a decade of learning about the practice of pet care.
“After college, I moved around. I lived in Toronto and Montreal for nine years, but I wanted to be somewhere that was closer to family. I had the opportunity to move here as one of my good friends from high school was living here and that was in May of 2019,” says McLean.
“I worked in a regular practice in Toronto and in emergency. When I got to Montreal I worked in a regular practice and an emergency referral centre. I got trained by several specialists over there and I obtained a position in dentistry,” he says.
“The way the at-home services got started was because some clients in Montreal had a diabetic dog and they were going away for a week and they asked me if I could stay there for the week and look after the dog and give their insulin. They knew that if anything happened, I was already working at a veterinary clinic and so they felt their pet was in really good hands. After that, I started doing some nail trims, I’ve actually done more cat nail trims in Montreal and that just started to become more and more successful.”
McLean says he’s hoping that also catches on here in North Bay.
“When I came to North Bay, I started working at a vet clinic in town, and I did that for about a year and a half. Throughout all that time and into the pandemic, I noticed a big need for in-home pet care service. I did do a little bit on the side when I lived in Montreal with some of my clients that really liked me, so I figured, ‘I did this in Montreal, so why not here?’”
He says the at-home services means the clients can assist with the technician as much as they want.
“For instance, when I’m doing a nail trim, they can hold their pet the entire time. The owner gets full confidence in me because they are a part of the process, instead of taking their pet into another room by itself and possibly having to muzzle them and they end up scared and traumatized,” says McLean.
“I really take my time with my clients, and that’s a big deal for a lot of people. I’ve done nail trims that have lasted sometimes half an hour because I would be giving them treats and making them feel comfortable with me and my patient care is my number one thing because if I don’t have patients then this whole business doesn’t work.”
McLean says he is a bilingual service for both French and English-speaking clients and has an extensive background in pet care.
“I graduated in 2008 and so because of that, plus working in emergency and referral, I have a lot of techniques in my background and that definitely helps me out and differentiates me from a lot of techs because most techs wouldn’t have more than 10 years experience and offering this type of service.”
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