VCA Tech & Support Workers Get Our Gratitude — Aaaand Support

6 min readSep 15, 2019

We’d like to register our support of better wages & benefits for VCA tech & support workers.

Our dogs running on the shoreline at Ocean Beach
Boomer, our GrandDog, at the beach with our dog, Shadow, and a Rottie pup

We rely on VCA for specialist & emergency care, to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars over the years. Six of our rescue animals have been treated at VCA SF Pet Specialist: from our beloved Puck, the cat who was at VCA on a weekly basis for oncology, to the best dog in the world, Shadow (from Family Dog Rescue), who is being treated for liver disease currently.

Of course, the high quality of specialist vets reassures us that we are putting our precious animals in the right hands. But so often, the right hands are the tech and support workers. Their experience, compassion, efficiency, competence, and optimism are so critical to our pets well-being and our peace-of-mind.

Shadow & The Professor are sittin’ pretty for VCA/SFVS Workers

VCA is making money because these “non-professional” people show exemplary professionalism. And they deserve to benefit from the qualitative wealth they are generating. Corporations have a tendency to see non-professional employees as expendable and replaceable. But these folks are not dispensable. They grow into their positions. Their competence comes from their familiarity with the those pets and professionals. They remember one of our cats is a scratcher, one of our dogs can’t stand to have her paws pawed, one guardian picks up the meds while the other is the one who administers them at home.

Right now, tech and support workers are looking for a fair contract negotiation. And we’re going to share just a few times we’ve shown up at their door to let the world know: these special people deserve better treatment.

The Rose Thief is Thwarted by the Wind

Parker the spy-girl was pretty feral when she came to us from SFSPCA. She’s there, then she’s gone. Unfortunately, just like a spy, she’s been in the wrong place at the wrong time, many times in her life.

Our cat, Parker, as she sneaks up to eat the roses from a vase
Parker, The Rose Thief

San Francisco’s fresh air blows into the windows at the west side, through the house, and out the east side doors. That powerful wind comes tumbling down Bernal Hill through the house, ridding up all the pet fur and dander. It’s one reason why we can nurture several animals in our little home while keeping it clean.

Unfortunately, one evening, we opened the home, but forgot to block a door. (We love cats so much, our door stops are cat statues.) So there’s Parker, who is, to steal a phrase from Hildegard Von Bingen, “a feather on the breath of God,” sitting next to a door, with her tail in the frame, when the wind slammed the door shut.

We raced down to VCA’s San Francisco Vet Specialist Emergency Services, putting our angel into the hands of people whom we knew who were dedicated, kind, and patient with our pets and ourselves. We won’t bother you with the details or the guilt trips. Just know: she kept her tail. So often, it’s the techs and support workers who you’re engaging with first, and who have the courage to look you in the eye and say “I’ll take it from here. She’s in good hands.” They’re the first people you trust and the last folks to give you instructions and answer your questions. And we’ve known we can trust them since the first time we brought a pet there.

The Anchor Kitty

I call Puck the Anchor Kitty, because she was the being who anchored my wife before we met. She was my wife’s constant companion. She had the title of The Best Cat of the Whole Wide World. And The U.S. of A. Aaaand The Universe. But Puck was a one-woman kinda cat. At first, she would tolerate my attention until my wife walked out of the room. Then, she’d attack me with all four paws and all of her teeth.

What tortoiseshell cats do

Puck was also the animal who anchored my wife and myself together, because in the first year of being together, Puck got cancer and needed a lot of treatment. I’m the one who would administer the medications, clean her sores, and bring her to the garden in the early morning. So she eventually came to love me. But, she did not suffer fools lightly. (She was rescued from a drug house in 1989, right before the earthquake.) Her old vet office would go into a panic every time she showed up.

The techs and support staff at SF Vet Specialists, however, were real pros. We’d call out a scratch, and they’d say, “Oh, that’s nothing” or “But she calmed down and was sweet.” These folks are the best of the best. They are dedicated to the animals. They know how to handle them — and us. They were familiar with Puck. And eventually, there were no incidents of “Puck being Puck” as we’d like to say euphemistically. They changed Puck’s behavior after 16 years because of their kind persistence.

The Professor of Modern Dance & Silliness

Our dogs, Shadow and The Professor, standing with their sweaters on
Shadow & The Professor (look at that tail)

We didn’t name him. We take no responsibility for his academic career. But when he was born, his Rocket Dog Rescue foster mother gave him the name, The Professor, because his eyes look like he wore round glasses. Quickly realizing he was no genius, we modified his name by adding his expertise: Modern Dance and Silliness.

We put the grease in the coffee filter and the coffee filter in the compost, and the compost in the big green bin. Periodically, I wash out the green bin. One time I didn’t realize that a coffee filter had gotten washed out with the hose. But the professor found it. Ate it. And soon became a neurotic mess. We had no idea what was going on.

We rushed to SF Vet Specialists and put our puppy in the hands of the skilled workers there. The love and care they showed the little guy let us know that they would do everything they could for him. We trust them with all of our animals’ lives. The Professor is living the life now, thanks to SF Vet Specialists techs & support workers.

Our dogs, Shadow and The Professor digging at the beach
How much smells can a couple of dogs get into in 1 walk on the beach?

These are just a few of our animals who have been helped, if not actually had their lives saved, because of the wisdom of the tech and support workers VCA San Francisco Vet Specialists.

In Good Faith

For 15 months now, they’ve been asking for better wages and benefits. We like to make a joke: it’s a dog’s life on Bernal Hill. Really it is a kind of heaven up here for animals. We lead the way in how to rear, train, and treat animals. The Tech and Support Staff at VCA San Francisco Veterinary Specialists are part of a wide community of animal stewards. They lead the pack in how to properly and fully love and care for our animals. But they can’t survive in this beautiful Bay Area on the wages they are receiving now. Let’s end this hypocrisy. Follow their FB page. Follow them on Twitter. Call VCA corporate offices at 1–800–966–1822. Let them know, as customers, we expect them to negotiate in good faith with the West Coast Pet Care Workers.

Let’s help our tech and support folks a bit, help with the burden they’re carrying, just as they have lifted the burden for us so many times.

Tovah isn’t joking; Parker’s ready to go! We Support West Coast Pet Care Workers!




...a queer man, Captain Ahab- so some think- but a good one. Oh, thou'lt like him well enough; no fear, no fear. He's a grand, ungodly, god-like man...