JACKSON, MI – Stephanie Titler was at her job as a veterinary assistant when she received a message on social media from a stranger, asking if she could help with a racoon stuck on the frozen lake behind her house.
“She could tell the racoon was breathing but it wasn’t moving,” Titler, of Jackson, said of the January 2020 incident. “She said she contacted animal control and they told her they were too busy. She said, ‘I’m just watching this ice melt and eventually the raccoon is going to fall in and drown.’”
Titler quickly left her job in Ann Arbor and drove to Jackson to the woman’s house, arriving the same time animal control did.
The animal control officer and Titler could not reach the raccoon with a rabies pole, so Titler took matters into her own hands, slowly crawling onto the ice on her hands and knees, grabbing the non-moving raccoon and pulling it back to land with her.
It’s actions like this that have contributed to Titler being one of five contestants in the running for a 2021 American Humane Hero Veterinary Nurse Award. Her grandmother, Sharon Gerry, nominated her for the award because of her dedication to helping animals.
“She’s a fantastic person,” Gerry said. “She is willing to help out someone she doesn’t even know, that’s how passionate she is about it.”
Titler showed an interest in becoming a vet when she was 8 years old and has always had a passion for animals, Gerry said, adding that Titler’s dedication to animals grew when she reached high school.
“It’s just one thing she’s always wanted to do, and she does a great job. She’s fantastic with animals,” Gerry said.
Titler has worked in veterinary medicine for 13 years and has been a licensed veterinary technician since 2012. She’s currently finishing her bachelor’s degree in biology at Eastern Michigan University and plans to apply to veterinary school in September.
In addition to her education and veterinary care work, Titler also has volunteered in animal rescue and rehabilitation with the Jackson County Animal Shelter. Over the years, she has fostered two pregnant dogs and many cats.
Currently, Titler works as a veterinarian nurse at BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Ann Arbor. She said when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, all general veterinary practices were closed due to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay home order.
The only practices allowed to stay open were emergency services, which is her line of practice. This brought in a lot of animal care services to the emergency clinics that they usually would not conduct, she said.
“I’ve worked at BluePearl for seven years and I’ve never seen anything like that,” she said.
Since the clinics have re-opened, Titler said there is still a continued back up in veterinary care. She said she usually would be scheduled for a 10-hour shift at her practice, but has been working 12-hour shifts.
“I’d rather work myself to the bone rather than have an animal suffer for it,” Titler said.
People can vote for Titler to receive the veterinary award until Thursday, July 29, at the American Humane website. The winner will be announced as part of the annual American Humane Hero Dog Awards, which will be taped for televising on the Hallmark Channel in October.
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