Animal science alumna goes off beaten path after graduation

kelly-rowe
University of Delaware alumna Kelly Rowe is the hospital administrator at Hunt Valley Animal Hospital in Maryland.

University of Delaware animal science alumna Kelly Rowe has always loved animals. She wanted to be a veterinarian ever since she was a little girl. Now, she is the hospital administrator at Hunt Valley (Maryland) Animal Hospital.

Rowe, who graduated from UD in 2002, initially wanted to make it to vet school, as animals were always a part of her life. “’Dog’ was the first word I ever spoke. I finally got my first dog at 5 years old. As a kid, I had friends, but I’d much rather have been outside catching rabbits and saving kittens,” said Rowe.

At UD, Rowe said she fondly remembers the swine production class taught by Lesa Griffiths, T.A. Baker Professor in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Rowe recalls raising her pig – named Sassafras – with a group of students, and the deep bond she developed with her group members. She and her group were in charge of monitoring the pigs, regulating feed, and assisting with labor and delivery.

“It was one of the most memorable times at UD altogether. Not having a pet while in college, this pig quickly became my pet,” Rowe said. “There were two nights around the due date that we actually stayed in the barn and slept on bags of grain, waiting on the babies to come. It exposed us to a lot of the sides of production and farming and everything that goes into it.”

Rowe got to know Griffiths from taking multiple classes, and said, “Dr. Griffiths is one of my favorite professors and mentors. She never left anyone behind; she always took time to get to know everyone. She was very hands-on, and I could tell she genuinely cared about my well-being.”

During college, Rowe took up an internship at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, doing animal enrichment studies. In the study with which she assisted, researchers were testing whether positive reinforcement and toys help strengthen an animal’s immune system.

Rowe said they found that toys and a stimulating and rewarding environment do indeed help the immune system. “It was really neat seeing how just changing their environment could help them,” she said.

Though Rowe initially had planned on going to vet school immediately after college, once she reached that point in life she said, “It just didn’t feel right. I was too empathetic to be a vet. I care about anything that had a beating heart, so it was just too much for me.”

Rowe had worn many different hats before finally becoming hospital administrator. She worked at a local animal clinic, then worked for Flavorx, a company that adds flavorings to medicines for children and pets. She then became territory manager for Vet’s First Choice, which involved a lot of great traveling experience. She finally came across the opportunity at Hunt Valley, and went running with it.

As the hospital administrator at Hunt Valley, Rowe’s job is full of variety – she manages the staff, makes protocols, managed inventory, manages the facility, and marketing. “The thing I really like about my job at Hunt Valley is that no day is the same. You never know what is going to walk, waddle, even fly through the door,” she said.

Rowe suggests that pet owners can avoid many common problems with their pets by being more observant of their pet’s behavior, and also proactive if they notice something different going on with their fuzzy friends.

“Notice everything and don’t put things off,” she said. “Small changes in your pet’s behavior are often symptoms of a bigger issue. Because life is busy, pet owners will often notice these things and fail to do anything about them until the bigger issue rears its ugly head.”

Article by Courtney Messina

Originally published on UDaily