Cool Girls with Tag: animal rescue

Tracy Wiczer

Sock It to Me Cool Girl Tracy Wiczer with Ariana the bunnyName: Tracy Wiczer
Age: 31
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Occupation: Pharmacist

As a pharmacist specializing in hematology and oncology, Tracy Wiczer’s day-to-day endeavors involve helping to prolong people’s lives, and in her free time, she does the same…only for bunnies!

As a child, Tracy excelled in math and science, but also had a sweet spot for animals, even considering becoming a zoo-keeper for koalas when she grew up. But after her mother’s passing from ovarian cancer when she was only 10 years old, and her father surviving prostate cancer, Tracy knew she wanted to specialize in hematology/oncology as her career path.

“I wanted to be able to improve the lives of patients going through similar times that I experienced with my parents,” she says.

But it wasn’t an easy path. In order to specialize in the field, she needed to complete two additional years of post-graduate training. After completing her second year at The James Cancer Hospital at the Ohio State University, Tracy was offered a position. She’s now a board certified oncology pharmacist, and one of only four pharmacists at The James who specializes in lymphomas, chronic leukemias, multiple myeloma and benign hematology disorders. So what does that entail?

“I work closely with teams consisting of physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers, case managers and nurses to provide care for patients with blood cancers. My main role is ensuring chemotherapy orders are 100% correct and optimizing supportive care medications. Being part of this team is extremely rewarding and I love interacting with the patients to teach them about what to expect from their chemotherapy or fix any medication related problems they may be having,” she explains.

She also trains pharmacists and researches medications, she’s even had four of her research projects published, and presented one at the American Society of Hematology meeting in December 2016.

Sock It to Me Cool Girl Tracy Wiczer presenting research paper with partner.

Although her job would seem to be challenging from a scientific perspective, Tracy admits that the most difficult part has nothing really to do with being a pharmacist; it’s largely a financial conundrum.

“The cost of cancer care, chemotherapy in particular, is absolutely mind boggling. Part of my job is to coordinate between the physicians, the people who help with insurance authorizations, our medication assistance department, and pharmacy/hospital administration to make sure medications are affordable for my patients,” she says.

Sock It to Me Cool Girl Tracy Wiczer's Rescue Bunny WisteriaWhen she’s not brainstorming how to help patients, Tracy hops back to helping her pet cause: rabbit rescue. She spends her time assisting organizations that house and help bunnies, even utilizing the “Bunderground Railroad” rescuer transport to help rabbits find homes when there is no space available anywhere in central Ohio. “I’ve had up to 13 rabbits living in my house because there was simply nowhere for them to go at the time,” she confesses.

“I adopted my first pair of rabbits when I was in college,” she recalls. “Thumper and Muncher were my first bunnies and taught me a lot about rabbits. I discovered Ohio House Rabbit Rescue (OHRR) when I was looking to adopt a rabbit after one of mine passed away. Before this point I didn’t realize that rescuing rabbits was a thing!”

Through OHRR, Tracy learned about “Buncare” volunteering, which she began doing in November of 2014. She fed and cleaned up the litter every Tuesday, and, eventually, she was invited to be a bigger part of their organization by helping catch domestic rabbits that people released into the wild when they no longer wanted to care for them.

Sock It to Me Cool Girl Tracy Wiczer with a group of volunteers rescuing rabbits in the snow.

“Personally, if you let me “free” into the wild, I would struggle to survive,” Tracy says, “So you can imagine a similar problem for a domestic rabbit!”

Sock It to Me Cool Girl Tracy Wiczer's rescue bunny Tink.She has helped rescue over 60 stray rabbits since July 2016, and also assists in transporting them to vet appointments. For OHRR, Tracy also coordinates their “chillaxabun lounge” at the Midwest Bunfest convention, gives education presentations, helps with adoption events, and plays matchmaker by setting up “bunny bonding,” which is basically matchmaking for rabbits. By partnering with OHRR, the Columbus House Rabbit Society (CHRS), and the local humane society, she’s helped many fuzzy tailed friends find a place they can call home.

So what advice does this rabbit rescuer and patient proponent have for young women leaping into adulthood?

“I was definitely never one of the cool girls as I excelled in school, was a band nerd, and am not especially athletic. It’s 100% ok to be a dork!”

We agree that any dork that helps people and pets live better lives is truly a very Cool Girl!

Help end cancer & support The James: http://pelotonia.org/

Virginia Krakowiak

Cool Girl Virginia Krakowiak 911 Dispatcher and Animal RescuerName: Virginia Krakowiak
Age: 37
Location: (Live) Camas, WA & (Work) Portland, OR
Occupation: 911 Dispatcher

While Virginia Krakowiak may not wear a cape or a mask, this 911 dispatcher and animal rescuer certainly saves the day. Between answering emergency calls and founding the pilot project On-Call Community Rescue for Animals, Virginia spends her time aiding humans and critters alike.

The path to becoming an emergency phone operator originally came about through hard labor…literally. In her twenties, Virginia worked as a farmhand, carpenter, and bartender.

“I wanted a little more job security, higher pay, and most importantly – health insurance.  I come from a family of paramedics, firefighters, and nurses and when I saw the job posting it just seemed to make sense,” she explains.

The pedigree and her perseverance paid off, although she’s the first to tell you that it isn’t easy.

“I remember a ten-minute call where I gave CPR instructions to a man who came upon a multi-fatality rollover accident. He ran directly to the youngest and most traumatic of the patients and for 10 minutes did everything he could to save the life of a stranger, an 8-year-old girl. When paramedics arrived, they took over for him we said our humble goodbye. I then immediately took a 911 call from a woman who wanted police to do something because a particular grocery store was no longer accepting checks,” Virginia says. “I always think I’ve really heard it all, and I’m often reminded that I have not.”

Cool Girl Virginia Krakowiak with rescued ducks.The job requires putting her emotions to the side, and adapting from call to call. Over time at her job that she began to notice the need for a specific type of emergency response: animals in peril. It was from these animal-related calls that Virginia came up with: On-Call Community Rescue for Animals, or OCCRA. Virginia is partnering with several agencies and bureaus to develop this group that will dispatch rescue when the calls involve injured, lost, or otherwise jeopardized creatures. (Keep an eye out here for updates!)

“Basically, I wanted to help these agencies fill those gaps with a group of trained volunteers who would be available at all hours to respond to the calls that are left with no response,” she explains.

Butters the duck in his cast.And when it comes to saving animals, Virginia’s pal Butters can attest to her talent. Butters and his brother are ducklings who found their way to her from a local feed store. Butters had been beat up by other ducklings, and his neck was weak and his leg was disfigured. She didn’t think he’d last longer than a week…but, with her care, Butters began to thrive. After six months, two casts, and loads of physical therapy, Butters is now a year old and thriving. He spends his days trying to jump on Virginia’s goats, and nibbling on all kinds of goodies like worms with her chickens.

Cool Girl Virginia Krakowiak's Goat MangerAlthough her days are long and action-packed, Virginia is able to share her experiences with her Harbor Pilot Firefighter boyfriend. When she’s not working as an animal savior or 911 dispatcher, Virginia is tending to her many animals and their abodes. She’s currently trying to adopt a sheep from a local sanctuary, and adding siding to the goats’ manger.

Virginia’s biggest goal, outside of starting her non-profit OCCRA, is to focus on her work with Oregon Humane Society Technical Animal Rescue. As part of the OHSTAR team, she and other qualified members respond to high-angle rope rescue calls in Oregon and Southern Washington.

Cool Girl Virginia Krakowiak High Angle Rescue

And what advice does she have to other young women looking to make their mark on the world?

“Be kind, be loving, treat people with respect and patience….try and find a way to slow down, breathe, and practice kindness.”

Words to live by! For all of her work helping animals and people, and for her tenacious dedication to bringing assistance resources to her community, we think Virginia Krakowiak is one very Cool Girl!