2010-07-01 / News

Animal clinic fuels islander’s veterinary dream

By Dara Chadwick

Caleb Alexander, 20, has known that he wants to be a veterinarian since he was about 5 years old, he said.

As a pre-teen, he walked into Paws and Claws and asked to be a dog walker.

“They said I wasn’t old enough,” he said.

So he did what any self-respecting kid would do – he marched across the street to the Jamestown Animal Clinic and asked for a job there.

What he found there wasn’t a paying position, but it was one that would become the opportunity of his young life. He was allowed to “shadow” the clinic’s former owner, Dr. Dominic Munafo.

“My first job was cleaning out a crate that a puppy had pooped in,” Alexander said.

From there, however, things got better.

“I shadowed Dominic while he was doing spay and neuter surgeries,” he said. “I got to help him mix shots and I learned to restrain animals.”

This fall, Alexander will move a step closer to his veterinary dream when he begins the Vet Fast program at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, where he recently earned a degree in animal sciences.

Eventually, he said, after graduating in 2014, he would like to have his own practice and move back to Rhode Island. Alexander, a resident of Great Neck, N.Y., has spent summers in Jamestown since he was born, he said.

Though Alexander’s love for animals is great – he has a sevenyear old golden retriever named Skippy – he encourages potential pet owners to think long and hard before committing to pet ownership.

“It’s a huge commitment,” he said. “Do your research first. Find out about the breed and how many years you’re in for. How much exercise does your pet need?”

It’s also important to think about potential health care costs for your pet, he said.

When he’s not studying anatomy or working in a clinic, Alexander enjoys skiing and hanging out with his friends.

Alexander said he’s grateful to Munafo for letting him help out all those years ago.

“I worked with him until I was about 16,” he said. “He taught me a tremendous amount.”

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