DENVER, Colo., Sept. 5, 2000 —As the cameras roll at Alameda East Animal Hospital, home of the hit Animal Planet TV show, “Emergency Vets,” Certified Veterinary Technician Taryn Marsh performs her job largely unaware of the television production crew around her.
In fact, so unassuming is Marsh about her possible role in next season’s scheduled episodes, which air each weeknight on Animal Planet at 10 p.m. and 1 a.m., she doesn’t even know when she might appear on television. “I don’t know yet,” she said. “I just do my job, and sometimes they’re filming. Although, I’ve been told that I am scheduled to be included in one episode about animal bites.”
Marsh is one of twenty veterinary technician supervisors who work full time at the now well-known 24-hour emergency animal clinic, located in Denver, Colo. It is at Alameda East that she started her career four years ago, long before the hospital became a reality-based television set, but she says the daily schedule of her job really hasn’t changed that much. “It’s really about helping save the lives of people’s pets.” Although, she says, the occasional sightseers do sometimes seem strange.
“They come in and take pictures of the hospital,” said Marsh, “then take the doctors’ business cards as souvenirs.”
Besides the sightseers, Marsh says she hardly notices the cameras while she is doing her job. “Taking care of the animals is the most important thing,” she says. “Sometimes, people can feel intimidated, but I try hard to ignore the cameras.”
And, she says, even though the cameras roll hours of film while they complete their twice yearly on-site filming for the show, Marsh has only been caught on film “a handful of times.”
“The show mostly focuses on the life-saving role the doctors play,” she said. Marsh has made it her duty to keep the wildly popular doctors down to earth. “We like to play with them a bit when they are on camera,” said Marsh. “They will be talking into the camera, serious about a case, while one of us is behind it, waving and distracting them.”
With a television production crew on hand at least 12 hours a day during the show’s busy filming schedule, Marsh says that the crew has become part of the hospital staff.
“We’ve really gotten to know them as friends, and have gotten them involved in the hospital,” she said. “All of us who work here have adopted abandoned animals from the hospital, and now, the crew is adopting animals who need homes as well.”
One subject that Marsh hopes the show producers will consider airing in the future is an episode that focuses on the veterinary technician’s role at the hospital.
“Many people don’t know that a certified veterinary technician is really an equivalent to a registered nurse,” said Marsh. “Our job is not one someone can just walk off the street and perform, it requires two to four years of schooling, the love of animals, and hands-on experiences,” she said. Technicians also bring a different perspective to a veterinary hospital, explains Marsh. “A certified veterinary technician can bring attention to different ideas and methods of doing things that can help the veterinarians in ways they may not have considered,” she said.
Overall, Marsh says she believes “Emergency Vets” is a positive reflection of the veterinary profession. “I think it is good that the show depicts doctors doing more than just giving animals shots and cutting nails,” she said. “It shows them performing major surgery, and in many other difficult and possible life-threatening situations for animals. But most importantly, I think it shows the level of care that animals receive when they come to our hospital. It shows owners that their beloved pets really are treated like a family member.”
Marsh’s plans for the future include continuing her pursuit to become a certified veterinary technician specialist in emergency and critical care. This is in addition to fulfilling her duties as the Colorado State Representative for the North American Veterinary Technician Association, an organization that is dedicated to promoting the vital role veterinary technicians play on the veterinary health care team.
Denver pet owners, however, can count on Taryn Marsh to continue to bring the pets at Alameda East Animal Hospital the best care possible – regardless if the cameras are rolling. That is, she says, “Until someone sees me on TV and realizes my star potential.”
The North American Veterinary Technician Association was organized to represent and promote the profession of veterinary technology. NAVTA, founded in 1981, provides direction, education, support and coordination for its members and works with other allied professional organizations for the competent care and humane treatment of animals. The association’s headquarters are in Battle Ground, Ind.