When Alisa Verwoerd was a teenager, her cat Buddy had to spend a week in the care of an Abbotsford veterinarian.
It was in that week, while she was treated with care and dignity as a pet owner, that she decided to go into the business of animals. She was already an animal lover — Buddy had been adopted as an adult cat into her family through the SPCA.
“During that time the vet technicians and assistants were so lovely and took care of him, and I was able to check in and take care of him as much as I wanted,” she said. “I thought ‘I want to do that, too.’”
Fast forward a few years and she’s not just a veterinary assistant, she’s also found herself as part of a popular show called Pets & Pickers, which headed into its second season May 6 on Animal Planet.
Verwoerd, a graduate of Abbotsford Christian School, works at Regional Animal Protection Society (RAPS) Animal Hospital in Richmond. That’s where the “Pet” portion of the show is filmed, and focuses on the veterinary work RAPS does. The “Pickers” portion happens at RAPS’ thrift store locations, where volunteers are given the contents of storage units that have been abandoned. The teams pick through the goods and pull out what could work in their stores, searching for treasures that will help net the big bucks to fund the hospital.
Verwoerd is featured plenty on the first season of the show, but less in the season that’s just about to begin, she said.
It’s been a fun experience to have a film crew in RAPS, documenting their work and sharing it out to the world.
“At first I was quite hesitant to be on camera,” she said. “I wasn’t sure it was something I wanted to do, and honestly I thought it was going to be more of a disruption than anything.”
But those worries were all settled quickly, and she found it was easier to get comfortable on camera than expected.
“The crew is amazing,” she said, coming in a few times a week over the fall as they gathered footage needed for the series.
“It’s something to see how many people it takes to get to what we see on TV,” she added. “It’s not just filming. There is a lot of work that goes into it.”
And it’s also led to a little bit of celebrity.
“We do have a lot of clients that come in and say they saw the show, and some even ask our doctors for autographs so people are definitely seeing the episodes.”
She said season two will have more drama, with some more intensive cases of the animals they’ve worked with.
The show airs each Saturday on Animal Planet.