Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Reality of Veterinary Medicine

As most of you know, I recently switched jobs from a day practice and now work in a 24 hour hospital as an Emergency Veterinarian.  I absolutely LOVE this aspect/side of vet med, and I wouldn't (and don't) want to do anything else... ever (like every other vet, I am a type-A overachieving work-a-colic). However, there are moments when I am hit with the reality of what my job REALLY is, and I wanted to take a moment and share with everyone my experience, especially in light of the recent media regarding vet med.

I walked into work this evening at 5:45pm ready for my overnight shift, and felt like I was walking into a room of chaos. I took a moment just to evaluate my surroundings and see where I could jump in and help.  What I realized was: 1) there was nothing for me to do, and 2) the hospital at that moment was the reality of vet med.
*I would like everyone now to really try and picture what I am about to describe. For my vet friends, this won't seem out of the ordinary... in fact, this is probably every day. For those that are not vets, it will give you insight into what YOUR vet REALLY does... it is not all happy healthy puppies and kittens... actually... it is UNCOMMONLY puppies and kittens...*

Sitting in the back on one of the treatment tables was a cardboard coffin with a 5 month old puppy in it, waiting to be picked up by its owner. This puppy had passed away during a neuter. Come to find out during surgery, that the puppy had several congenital abnormalities that were hidden from pre-op bloodwork and physical exam (every precaution to make sure anesthesia and surgery is as safe as possible), and only discovered during surgery, causing the puppy not to wake up after anesthesia. Any veterinarian will tell you that a neuter is one of the simplest surgeries that we do. We could do it in our sleep. However, unseen complications happen, and there is nothing that anyone could have done to prevent this from happening. This was an unhealthy puppy that was not going to live a long and happy life, it would have gotten very sick and died at a very young age. However, the veterinarian that performed the surgery was devastated. This was the first time this had ever happened to this veterinarian in 5 years of practice... 5 years and countless surgeries. Put yourself in this vet's shoes for a moment: You just lost someone's baby under anesthesia for a surgery that YOU recommended. Colleagues and even your own head tell you - This was not my fault. There was nothing that I, or anyone could have done. This happens to everyone. But your heart only feels pain and guilt and anguish for a life lost and your failure, and an inability to serve the purpose that you were put on this Earth to do: HEAL. Now comes the hard part (I know, like everything else isn't hard enough!). You now have to get on the phone and call the owner of that puppy and tell them what happened. You get to break the news to mom, dad, and their son (the person the puppy was bought for) that their best friend is gone. You get to tell someone who is excited about playing fetch and running around in the yard, you get to tell them, I am so sorry, but your dog is dead. It puts a knot in your stomach and chest that nothing else can. It makes you sick and hurt to the deepest part of your soul. You hurt for the owners, for the puppy. You hurt because you caused PAIN.

In this same moment there is a dog and owner in a room with another doctor. This dog has been unwilling to eat and unable to keep anything down for the past WEEK... and oh yea, the dog ate a cactus a little over a week ago.  The poor dog is so sick and painful it won't let the doctor feel it's belly. Xrays were taken and revealed three cactus needles stabbing through the dog's small intestines causing a perforating foreign body. the doctor explained to the owner that the only way to even give the dog a chance to live is emergency surgery and gave an estimate for the $1500 surgery and a 50/50 prognosis. The owner's response? Anger. Saying things to the veterinarian like: How could she be so cold and insensitive? She only wants money. If she REALLY cared about the dog, she would do the surgery for free. But no, she doesn't care and is a terrible, cold hearted, unfeeling, horrid person who is MAKING her kill her dog when the dog COULD be saved if she would just stop being such a money grubbing Scrooge. I ask again, put yourself in the vet's shoes. You have a dog that you know for the past WEEK has sat at home, starving, in pain, with a fever, feeling horrible and puking its guts up as three needles stab through it's intestines. And what did the owner do? nothing. You know the dog is suffering, but you can potentially help and save it's life! But what will the owner let you do? nothing. You know that had the owner brought the dog in right after it ate the cactus you could have used the scope and gotten the needles out for about $400. But they waited A WEEK. And according to the owner, this is all your fault. Her dog is going to die because of you. Talk about feeling powerless! You can't even defend yourself! Your response. "I know this is a difficult situation, and I am so sorry." But at the end of it all, you are the one that has to inject in the hot pink euthanasia juice knowing you have the skills and abilities to save this dog's life, and instead, you must end it.

The final scenario that was occurring was an older dog that suddenly started limping on one of his legs. The owners thought, oh he must have arthritis, we will take him in and get some meds and he will be fine. The vet had already taken xrays before I got there and saw the bone cancer that was covering this dog's humerus. Again, put yourself in the doctor's position. You now have to tell someone that their best friend of 10+ years has cancer. The big C. Their options are either 1) amputate the limb, 2) very short term pain management (days) or 3) euthanize right now. You have to shatter their world and make people cry. You cannot offer any relief aside from euthanasia, which is no relief at all for the family. You get to be the bringer of bad news.

All of this occurred at 5:45pm... AFTER an entire day that started at 8am, with even more cases similar to these. This was one 15 minute section of time in a 10 hour long work day. No wonder veterinary medicine suffers from the highest suicide rate and highest addiction rate of any other profession. No wonder all veterinarians at some point suffer from what is called "compassion fatigue". Unfortunately, the majority of people do not understand this about our profession. I cannot tell you how many times people have said to me, "oh you must LOVE your job! You get to play with puppies and kittens all day! Though, I bet it is hard when you occasionally have to euthanize something." I just nod, and smile. What they don't know is that I am thinking - yes, it is very hard. Those THREE patients I euthanized in the past 30 minutes were very hard (which happened on my overnight shift tonight).

I appreciate you if you made it this far!! All I am trying to do is help people to realize what the reality of vet med is... and what it is not. We are NOT in it for the money. We recommend tests and vaccines because we had 8 years of schooling that taught us what was best for your pet. We are overworked, emotionally drained, compassion fatigued, under appreciated/respected, and SEVERELY underpaid for what we do (because no amount of money is worth what we go through on a daily basis, *and side note, average salary for a veterinarian is $45,000/year and average student loan debt is over $150,000 :)* ). Yet, we wake up every morning and devote our life to your pets. We love them as if they are our own, we cry over them when they don't make it, we work long hours and stay late working and reading to learn and try to figure out why your pet is sick. We talk to them like they are people and love them even when they try to bite us. We deliver pain, hurt, bad news, and encounter countless situations that we have no control over throughout our entire day. Our reward is internal... it is knowing that at the end of every day we have done everything that we can to the very best of our abilities for every patient we have touched, even if that means ending their suffering.

Thanks for reading :)
Lindsey Lane Verlander, DVM

125 comments:

  1. This piece is timely & very well written. I'm not a vet but know many; for what it's worth I REALLY appreciate what you do and try to understand. Good luck, I hope you ultimately get the satisfaction to make it all worthwhile... <3

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  2. My wife is a vet tech manager (she would make an awesome vet); and thru her I've come to know many fine vets. I don't know how you guys do it.

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  3. Vet Tech for 34 years, SX, ER, & ICU, worked in NYC, where that cactus FB would have run them about $2000.00 with Workup, SX, & Post Op Care, possibly more. The owner is the unfeeling money grubber, not you. I've worked with a lot of vets over the years, a few were greedy, but most tried to do all they could, despite the need to pay their own rent, crushing school debts, and occasionally the need to eat. In corporate, or privately owned practices where they had no say regarding fees, at least they could dump the client on the Hospital Administrator. You hang in there, sounds to me like a lot of animals will have cause to be glad you were their vet in the years to come.

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  4. This is a beautifully written summation of the life of a veterinarian. People have no idea how difficult the job is, physically, mentally, emotionally and intellectually. You are a beautiful person for what you do, my father is a veterinarian and James Herriot played a big part in my growing up. Thank you for speaking the truth and for doing the job you do. It requires immense empathy and compassion.

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  5. I, too, am an er vet and you were able to capture my thoughts and feelings exactly... Thank you for this..comforting to know we are not alone..

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    1. Tara its stacy from you know where I cant stop crying..I miss you.

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    2. Wonderful I have a Daughter who does what you do.... she is the best like you she is so conscientious and caring of all things creature........unfortunately one has to throw in the HOMOSAPIEN species into the mix.
      I recently had a situation where my puppy got bitten by a red-belly black snake, I was able to get to the local vet in the first half hour. They advised me that is would cost AU$1400 minimum and could go to AU$2400. Called my wife with the good news that all was OK and that the pup was in good spirits and gave her the bad news of the price,,,No decision needed the price wasn't the factor in our decision because she was our mate. On reflection as I walked out of the surgery hoping she would pull through I thought we have made it so easy to just euthanize our pets who do no one harm at any stage.... but the=is other species we can't knock off when by all rights we should for the baddies, and for the old sick and imfermed we keep them alive to suffer a bit longer when all they want to do is pass on in peace and free from the pain and trauma that inhabits them. We have it all wrong. To my daughter who sent me this.... sorry I was not on the same wave length as you; I am now. To all you vets you are wonderful and sometimes I wish I had gone to the vet rather than my local doctor when I was sick,,,,,:)

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  6. Blessings upon all Vets and Vet Techs! I recently had an after hours emergency and had to seek help from a practice that I had never been to. It was 9 at night and I was by myself with my 9.5 year old Great Pyr who was very quickly diagnosed with the dreaded bloat.I literally had 5 minutes to make my decision. I opted to set my baby free. The staff were so amazing! They kept my girl as comfortable as possible until my kids could quickly get there to say good-bye. As traumatized as I was by the experience, I knew it was difficult for our care givers as well. When I picked up Maggie's ashes 2 weeks later I made sure they all knew how grateful I was for the care and compassion they provided to us. I gave them a card and some chocolates along with a little write up about Maggie. I wanted them to know how important they are! You are all important and I appreciate you! Thank you.

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  7. You have inspired me to write thank you notes to our vet and the emergency vet practice who performed the $1750 surgery we DID have--and spent months paying off on our credit card. Would do it again in a heartbeat and thankful our area has an emergency service.

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    1. Thank *you*! As an LVT in emergency practice for 22 years, those little 'thank you' notes of appreciation from wonderful clients like you that keep us going!

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  8. This is a great post! Thank you for sharing. It's eye-opening to say the least. You have my sympathies for the difficult parts of your job. Thank you for shouldering the responsibility.

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  9. Great article. Terrible background.

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  10. Really appreciated this post. I'm a vet in the Army and don't usually have quite the heavy caseload of emergency cases that you've described. That said, I still find myself having these tough conversations with owners at least a couple of times a week.

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  11. I'm thinking you have more in common with child welfare workers than you know (though a kick from a six-year-old human just doesn't compare to a kick from a six-year-old horse, does it?), and wonder when the vet profession will adopt some of the stress management protocols the social workers use. They too are underpaid, suffer compassion fatigue, and went to school long and hard to learn their calling. In vet school, they probably try to warn you, to prepare you, but there IS no explaining what it feels like at the end of one of your shifts.

    I'm sorry it's so hard, I'm grateful when I bring in one of my many animal companions in the dead of night for whatever care they need, that a vet is there to hand me a tissue and give the beastie whatever care can be offered.

    The worst compassion fatigue is a lack of compassion for yourself. Tattoo that to your fridge and your bathroom mirror.

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    1. Great quote "the worst compassion is a lack of compassion for yourself" I should remind my self daily of this.

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  12. Gosh, I'm in tears. I recently loss by 14 year old golden, Jack. I am so very thankful for the compassionate care my regular veterinarian provided to keep him comfortable in the last few months of his life -- and to the vet tech & vet at the Emergency Clinic who laid a blanket on the floor so I could lay next to Jack and hold him close to my heart as they helped him pass. It was emotional for them as well, but I never realized the full impact such daily occurrences have on their lives. Thank you for sharing -- it definitely gave me a much better appreciation for the veterinarian who lovingly cares for both me and my dog.

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  13. Please change the font, hard to read and looks like a child writing it. That said, I'm a very happy veterinarian and I'm tired of vets portraying our profession likes it's some horrible job they're forced to be in. If you don't like it, get out. You clearly don't have the personality for it if you are this upset everyday.

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    1. You (lemge) have totally missed the point. Glad your life is all roses at whatever type of practice you work in...I just doubt you are a vet, just another of the many out there with no clue as to the toll this job takes.
      Actually I hope you aren't a vet as I would hate to be one of your clients as you cheerfully put to sleep one of my treasured friends. If you are a member of this profession, I hope for the sakes of those you work with, and treat, that you grow some compassion, although with that small stone for a heart you exhibited with the thoughtless comment above, II highly doubt you"ll manage that any time soon.

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    2. To vet tech - you should probably reel it in just a tad. I think the comment was valid - there are many of us (and I AM a veterinarian, have been for 22 years) who are happy in our profession. Euthanasia is not the best part of my job, I am grateful that I don't have to do it everyday and it's always difficult - but I also know that I am relieving suffering and at the end of the day I can look in the mirror and say I did well. I'm sure that Lemge (sp?) doesn't "cheerfully put to sleep" any pet - I'm sure that the comment was intended to protray a generally happy attitude - satisfaction with the profession. That being said, I also feel those comments to be prety harsh as well. I read the initial blog and agreed completely with the frustration! I don't work emergency but I treat the same sorts of cases - the ER docs get to see a more, just by the nature of their work, but we all have to deal with it. Be gentle, people...Dr VerLander is spot on. She starts out saying how much she loves her profession, she wouldn't want to do any thing else - I didn't read anything suggesting it's a "horrible job" to her. We're in a wonderful profession, just stressfull - we all need to decompress now and then - cut her some slack. Again, be gentle - we all need one of those "virtual hugs" now and then - good job Dr VerLander, thank you for the post.

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    3. Whether you are a happy veterinarian or avet headed toward a burnout, no one deserves to be told to get out of the profession just on the basis of expressing a grievance. We are all in this emotional profession together. Vets and death row technicians are the only people that perform euthanasia...

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    4. lemge, you totally missed the part at the beginning where she says she loves what she does. This post is a frank discussion of when being a vet is hard, when it breaks your heart and is difficult emotionally, not a complaint about working in the field. You, as a vet, should know all of the situations she describes happen in the course of practice and it's hard on you. Acknowledging there are hard situations and days that leave you totally drained doesn't mean you don't love what you do, it means there are hard situations and days that leave you drained.

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    5. There is a HUGE difference between general private practice and ER medicine or shelter medicine. While occasionally, a private practice vet may see a difficult case, ER medicine and shelter medicine are bombarded with difficult situations on a regular basis. You want to save them all, but for any number of reasons, you can't. As a person in shelter medicine, I can tell you that I ABSOLUTELY LOVE working in a shelter environment, and that emergency medicine is the one other option I would consider. I cannot imagine having to work in a private practice day in and day out. Its just not enough. Not enough medicine, not enough about the animals, not enough giving back. But yes, it is tough. Often. But being able to talk about the difficult things is not only a way to cope, but the sign of a healthy attitude. it takes a certain type of person to be able to do emergency medicine or shelter medicine. Not everyone is able to deal with it. But it doesn't mean we don't feel - on the contrary. We feel very deeply. We just choose to accept the difficult situations and the pain - with the tradeoff that we are doing something we were meant to be doing, and giving back in a way that is extremely meaningful and makes a huge difference.

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    7. KrisCVTG8r, I'm a little offended by your comment. Day practice isn't for everyone, nor is ER, nor is shelter medicine. Kudos to you for knowing yourself and where you will be happiest. But to say that day practice does not offer "enough medicine, not enough about the animals, and not enough about giving back??" Are you joking? We often euthanize pets that we have seen from puppy or kittenhood until the geriatric years. We become very close to our clients and patients. Not enough medicine? Who do you think is at the forefront of medicine? Not always exciting trauma or ER type stuff, but really? Many clients can't afford to go to specialty clinics, and that means we take care of the problem, whatever it may be. As for giving back...I suppose that it up to the individual. A large percentage of our business comes from rescue, whom we give hefty discounts without the benefit of special pricing as a shelter. Not to mention the "omissions" we often make for little old ladies or other people that need a little help here and there. If we can't respect, empathize, or stand up for our colleagues working in slightly different areas of the profession, we are really in trouble.

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  14. Well written and shared. I think this helps non-verterinarians and pet owners see things from the other side. Re. lemge1's response. I feel the exact opposite-i feel the more compassion one has, the more the above situations are upsetting.

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  15. lemge1, how long have you been practicing? And in what part of the field? I sincerely hope you're a large animal veterinarian as your lack of compassion can only be detrimental to the rest of the fields. This post is not about disliking the job; it's about opening the eyes of the public to what we go through to maybe make them understand and stop the horrible things we hear almost everyday. I'm so glad your experience has been wonderful but please realize you are the minority not the majority.

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    1. What part of being a large animal vet makes it OK to not be compassionate??? As a large animal veterinarian, Im offended that you would 1) make such a broad generalization and 2) imply that our field is inferior to, well, EVERY other aspect of veterinary medicine. We still face the same tough cases, difficult decisions and emotional euthanasias on a daily basis. We have clients that are like family, and inevitably ones that can be frustrating. But having to put down someone's beloved animal is the same, whether it is in a barn or a clinic.

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    2. I fully agree with blink. As a mixed animal veterinarian, we must be just as compassionate with large animal owners as small. We often have a smaller client base, so we get to know our clients much better. I have been a vet for 14 years now, so I have been around long enough to watch my clients' kids AND animals grow up/old. I love my job and wouldn't trade it for anything. Personal relationships are what make this profession golden.

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    3. I own horses, have had the privilege of running a large equine facility and I take offense at the implication that large animal vets don't need or have compassion! Over the years I have had to have too many of my dear friends euthanized. There is no blanket in a warm room in which to say goodbye, no gentle drifting away that my canine friends have had-there is only the hard fall to the ground and much more graphic dealing with the aftermath of death with large animals and my equine vet has tears in his eyes every time this happens and I know it affects him deeply. He is the one who has treated my horses through the years, from yearly vaccines to emergencies and knows my horse as well or better than me. And grieves with me. And I cherish that in him.

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    4. I can say that I have run into a number of large animal vets who, unfortunately, look at the patients in what I will call an "old school" view. They've either worked with agribusiness where the animals are inventory or the racing industry where they aren't much more than that. It always made me sad to see them, to realize how much they've missed out on. That said, I think there has been a HUGE shift in the way we (the profession and the public) are coming to view the animals in our care - not as "just animals" but rather as living, loving members of our family. This includes large animal vets (and who couldn't fall in love with the spirit of a horse!) But yes, there are still a lot of old timers who still have an old way of thinking and have not evolved.

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    5. Such judgementalism of old timers is very sad. Many of these compassionate, dedicated individuals practiced in hours and conditions new graduates would not last a month in. They built a strong foundation for our profession, and helped bring about many of the excellent changes we see in small and large animal veterinary medicine. Are there some who no longer have the flexibility to change? Possibly, but that is true of any profession, as their career winds down. Do not discount their contribution, as one day you will be the old timer, if you last that long!

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    6. KrisCVTG8r: Sorry you probably think we're not "evolved". Though I'm not yet an old timer, I'm one of those veterinarians with almost 15 years' experience working in the racing industry, first as a private practitioner and now as a regulatory veterinarian. There is no way I'd trade what I do for small animal medicine, which I tried and loathed. Private companion animal practice, either large or small, is my last choice within the veterinary profession not because I lack compassion, but because clients happily took advantage of my willingness to go the distance for my patients and I let them, mistakenly believing they'd be appreciative and thus loyal. Sad to say, clients EXPECT that extra effort and the warm fuzzies besides, at a bargain basement price with a minimum spent on diagnostics. In contrast, the racetrack is an honest place; horsemen are apt to tell me exactly what they think of me, good or bad. The state signs my paycheck, so there's no more emotional blackmail. Is it rewarding? Yes, more than you'll ever understand. It's hands-on animal welfare work. Best of all, the caring I do for my patients is all mine to give. Oh, one last thing - a good number of the horsemen do not think of their horses as "inventory". They care about them while they're racing, and they try very hard to place them when their careers are done. It's clear you've never spent much time at a racetrack. If you had, you'd know not all horsemen are the same, just as not all owners of dogs and cats think of them as "loving members of our family"... much as they may profess that's the case, especially when the bill comes due.

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  16. I loved your post. I am a veterinary hospital manager and emergency technician with 20 years in this field. The costs to veterinary clinics for medical supplies are the same as that of human hospitals or more because we do not order in large quantities like giant human hospitals. Our surgery suites are equipped exactly as those in human hospitals with the same quality monitors. Yet our surgeries are 1/4 the cost or less compared to comparable human surgeries. How can we offer care at a fraction of the cost of human medicine? The pay to our staff is half that of human equivalents at most. Our teams are significantly smaller. Our buildings are less opulent. Our clinic owners don't own mansions and nice cars. Most of our employees live without benefits and work twice as hard. Our emergency technicians have twice the case load as their human nurse equivalents and they use their spare time to run our diagnostics and take our radiographs. Our doctors see every case that enters the door, often solo and spend their breaks writing records and helping the technicians.

    The reality is that everyone has bad days and this one sounds like a doosy. I understand that this type of day needs steam blown off. Thankfully there are so many more that tell us how much we love this profession. If every day was this, I would not have loved vet medicine for 20 years.

    Please change the font (feel free to edit this post to delete this part) It is so difficult to read and it diminishes the impact of your writing.

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  17. Kelly- "I sincerely hope you're a large animal veterinarian as your lack of compassion"... why do you feel large animal vets have a lack of commission? I am a large animal vet- mostly dairy and I care about my patients and clients, just because my patients become your food does not mean I care any less about them than do you about your patients. I am also an acupuncturist for both small and large animals. Please do not generalize.

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    1. I think that some LA vets - especially those who provide care to animals associated with agribusiness - have had to find a way to protect themselves from what they have seen over the years. Let's be real. Agribusiness, while getting better, can still be brutal. Large factory farm workers often lack regard for the animals while they are alive. We see this over and over. I've seen it first hand during my training. And in past decades, it was certainly much worse. So, if your passion is large animal vet med, you often had to accept to a point what went on (or you no longer had a client - then what would happen to the animals?) Not saying I agree or disagree with it, just that's how it is. And no, not all LA vets are that way. But many of the ones who have been in practice for a long time, well, yeah, they are.

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    2. Yes, there are poorly managed large livestock operations, and small ones. There are poor dog breeders, negligent pet owners, abandoned animals... This does not mean one can judge large animal veterinarians or small animal veterinarians by their clients. There are bad apples in any profession, but as a whole veterinarians are compassionate individuals who view animal welfare as a priority, and small animal practitioners should not judge another field that they have not practiced in. Many excellent changes in livestock operations have come about through diligent work and research by veterinarians on pain management and standards of care. We have not sat back and just accepted things. Certainly older practitioners in either small or large animal medicine may not have moved forward with the changes, but you have not walked in there well worn shoes, and practiced in the difficult conditions many of them had to.

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  18. Absolutely true and great article. Thank you for sharing!

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  19. Incredibly written piece. I have a daughter in Vet medicine (in her third year of school) and her stories of her patients she has had over the years validate your story.

    I can relate to your piece as a labor and delivery room nurse. Many find my line of work to be in one of the happiest places in medicine, and while there is some merit to this, I have also had to deal with days like the one you described with my own set of patients and their issues.

    Imagine if you will the mom who has gone through years of invitro fertilization treatments who has presented to the L&D unit with full term fetal demise. There's never an easy way to say, "I'm sorry your baby has died." The bay you have wanted for as long as you can remember.

    Imagine the mom (loose term) coming into the L&D unit strung out on cocaine who now insists we do everything we can to ensure her baby is healthy and safe. Really? And we insist we have to deliver her because we suspect a placental abruption she argues with us because "she is scared of surgery." Really? Oh, and do we really have to stick her with a needle? Really?

    Imagine the mom whose baby has looked wonderful on the fetal heart monitor throughout labor and now post delivery, post being cut from his or her life line (the placenta) has suddenly died because the had some congenital issue that meant their living outside of mom on their own was incompatible with life. How do you think that makes us feel? How do we tell the mom her baby has died and there was absolutely nothing we could have done to save her baby?

    So I get where you are coming from. I understand. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. The bravest and most honorable gift that anyone could give in their practice is love and compassion. I am a young, new nurse, but when you look into a family member's eyes after they withdrew life support, and you cry with them as you talk about the kind of person the patient was, you give them something wonderful, and help them start healing from their loss. Remember that your caring helps change the outcomes of the families and draw strength from that, not just the outcome of loss.

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    2. Wendy, as a mom that carried my sweet baby boy for 8.5 months to find out two weeks before I was supposed to deliver him that he had passed I want to thank you, thank you for the work that you do and for being the rock that a mom needs when she is overcome with such tragity. You will never know how much people like you mean to others in this world. And to the Vet thank you also for all tbat you do. I am a mom to many fur animals and rescue them as well. Many of these animals would not be here if it weren't for vets like yourself. So a big thank you to both of you!

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  20. Thankyou so much for this. I hope you don't mind but I am going to print this off and keep it close so I can look at it know that I am not alone. I am a vet tech for a wonderful vet and we are constantly over run with client like your cactus FB. They come to us knowing that my doctor is reasonably priced and then whine and complain about how much it is going to cost them. We are a one doctor clinic (rural) with two staff members who are in reality technicians but perform all support staff duties from front desk to treatment room to major surgery support. It is absolutely soul destroying to hear people complaining about how the front staff are unfeeling, discompassionate and rude. We do our jobs because we love the job and love the animals and want to help. Unfortunately we cannot cure owner stupidity and that's what Vets and their staff deal with multiple times a day. Thank you again for sharing this.

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  21. I am typing this with one hand because my beloved 11 year old cat is resting her head on the other and I don't want to bother her just to type. I have heard a few stories like the one you told about the accusatory and slanderous dog owner. Unfortunately, I think people like that feel the need to project the blame on you rather than face the fact that they are the ones making this decision. I am an OB RN and people say, "You must love getting to hold and rock babies all day." They have no idea. I do love what I do, just as you do, but holding and rocking babies is just one tiny, tiny part of the story. Thank you for sharing yours.

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  22. Very well written and well-timed, Lindsey. Wow, what a small world it is. I remember you from veterinary school. Glad to see that you're happy with where you have ended up. Thanks for sharing!

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  23. I am a veterinary receptionist, and I have seen all this and more. I understand completely where you are coming from.

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  24. Bravo! I am currently a vet student and I don't look forward to those scenarios, but I CHOOSE the profession regardless. As you said, the reward is internal. Thank you for sharing this wonderful piece and giving insight to those who will never know what it is like to walk a day in a veterinarian's shoes (not that this depicts our every day).

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  25. I'm Ashay, vet from India (Goa), this is exactly how i feel and probably how every vet feels and the worst part is that you cant even talk about it to anybody. being a doctor you've just got to look really composed on the outside when you know that you could really erupt like a volcano and then it feels terrible when you've got to give some bad news. this is just beautifully written.....

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  26. Lindsey - Thank you for sharing. I cherish my vets and their vet techs and hope that you have those in your practice who similarly cherish and appreciate you.

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  27. Well written. Compassion fatigue is part of why I finally got out of the profession, but the major reason was physical pain. My spine is pretty much trashed preventing me from being able to stand long. Another aspect of vet med that most lay people don't realize is that it is a very physically demanding job (both large and small animal) and, even when we take all the precautions, we still get kicked in the head (and head butted and bitten and clawed and beaten into pipe fences while maintaining a death grip on the horns and trying to figure out how the hell we're going to get out of that situation without being gored...I HATE cows...and idiots who don't pay attention to the fact that the interstate has become a parking lot). Vet Med is a very rewarding profession, but those rewards come with a lot of heartbreak and emotional distress. Can't count the number of times I've wanted clients to walk a day in my shoes to see what we really do.

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  28. I am a veterinarian who went off to medical school in the '60s (after 2 years in the army and 6 years in small animal and zoo practice) and became an orthopaedic surgeon. I've met the same people in human medicine...if things can't be fixed because they were neglected for prolonged periods, it somehow became my fault. Hang in there...and please, please learn the difference between "its" and "it's." The latter is a shortened form of "it is" and that's how it should be used.

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  29. As an ex-vet tech of 6 years, I applaud this article. I have worked every shift there was in a vet clinic and even had to do cremations. I have worked 19 hour days due to emergency surgeries and hectic days where they just needed the hands on deck.But when you love the work, that's what you do.
    I really wish the people who should read this would... but they won't. The people who need to read this are those pet owners who shouldn't have pets. They are the ones I see as pet OWNERS. The rest of us know that really... we humans are the pets. ;)

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    1. We're not pets, we're slaves--happily and willingly. ;D

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  30. My friend posted this today and I thought it was funny because I posted a status regarding my career at an emergency vet hospital today. I was told by people "you will get used to it" after I left small practice for emergency. Mid you I did vet tech and I work in admin now.... people I think forget that the admin side goes through it too... when they come up to the counter sobbing to do an in hospital euth.. or a DOA, or a hit by car... you get the picture... those images NEVER leave me. When we had a hit by car last week and I got a stretcher and small little black eyes pleading for help... body shaking... legs mangled and an hour later they walked out with a casket.. I cried for 2 days and I still get a lump in my throat... I guess I am lucky I get people who say "I don't know how you do it..." when the sobs echo through the lobby.... or I walk into treatment to dogs dead ready to be packed.... I don't WANT to get used to it... and the pay... oi... LOL but I can't picture doing anything else.... thank you so much for this....

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  31. Thank you for taking the time to write this and provide insight to those not in our profession.

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  32. Thank you for all that you do for our furry friends. I set up an emergency account for my dog who is an 8 year old Great Dane/Lab mix. I know some day I will have to make decisions that won't be easy. My boyfriend who was deployed put me in charge of making the decision about his 14 year old Golden Mix, Alex. The poor guy fell down a flight of stairs after one of the adult 'children' forgot to put the gate back up when they went upstairs to nap. It was up to me to come home, lift poor Alex into the car and take him to the vet. The adult 'children' were angry at me for not being able to convince the vet to bold Alex's leg back together. I did the best I could. I had the vet give Alex a pain shot and I took him around to the kids and grandkids so they could say goodbye and we skyped my boyfriend in Afghanistan. Poor Alex kept going into the door thinking BF was going to be there soon. I was the one who had to hold Alex as my vet put him to sleep. My vet was in tears, too. She sat with me as I tried to say good bye to our friend.

    I know my vet needs to make a living so trying to balance decisions is tough. I wish people could understand this. Thanks again for writing this.

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  33. I worked at a rescue/adoption/hospital facility and thank you for your post. Many people believe that working with animals in any capacity is all rainbows and butterfly's. When I worked the front desk at adoptions we had literally a hundred calls a day with people looking to 'get rid' of their animals. Most often because they were moving or had a baby. People would drop their animals outside our facility in boxes in the middle of the night; 13 year old animals were given up without the blink of an eye as the family went out to adopt a new puppy. It's hard, and it wears on you and it does make you angry; but people in the field continue to work despite this because they love animals and because of the times they are able to make a difference in the life of an animal. I don't think this post was meant to elicit sympathy or to make anyone think that she does not love her job; but the reality of rescue/working with animals is that it is hard, and it takes a strong and compassionate person to be able to commit their lives to the profession.

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  34. I am a new puppy owner and really appreciate the help of my local vet. Whilst my 4 month old labrador puppy is currently in the cute stage for the vet when she goes for her shots and check ups, I know that one day our visits will not be so happy.

    I thought over my decision to get a dog for a few years and waited until I could afford proper pet insurance ($300/yr pays up to $15,000/yr) as animal surgeries and procedures are expensive and I feel that it is a must for pet owners! Harsh I know, but at least I will have the choice to be able to potentially save my pet if need be and never ever put my anger and frustration on my vet who is only doing their very best!!!

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  35. Growing up as a child, I always wanted to be a vet. Whenever one of my grandmother's cat was giving birth to her kittens, I was there. I was helping take care of them. I told my grandmother I wanted to be a vet when I grew. She told me that it was a very good idea BUT it wasn't all about kittens and puppies, and it wasn't just about taking care of them when they were young. She told me there would come a time that I just might have to euthanize a puppy, or a kitten, or someone who had a dog or a cat for a very long time but because they were sick, could I be the one to put that cat or dog to sleep, to end it's life? To make the owner cry? She told me that being a vet took a lot of hard work, a lot of dedication, and a big heart that had to be strong even during times when you didn't want to be. I never did become a vet because it does indeed take a very special type of person to do the job that vets do. I, and all my pets that I have had in the past and the pets I have now were/are very fortunate to have such wonderful, caring, dedicated vets. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for doing what you do, and for doing it so well.

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  36. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  37. I am a veterinarian in a small animal practice and have had each of those cases in my career. Great description of what emotional toll we have. However, instead of cursing the owner that waited a week before bringing in their dog, look at it from their perspective. They love their pet but don't have the money to take it to the doctor. They think "it will probably get better in a few days". Then they have to wait until payday to take it in and likely have to take it to the emergency clinic because they can't get off work early, and that costs more. Now they have to go home and explain to their family what happened to the pet and why he will never return.
    I agree that I have been called money grubbing and heartless but the owner is going through a very emotional time too. I always figure we are just the unfortunate target of their emotions(anger, sadness, frustration). I do the best I can and pray for them to heal from this ordeal.

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    1. Good point, Pepe. We're the professionals, and our job is to educate folks without putting them on the defensive--or being defensive ourselves.

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    2. that's a great point and a good reminder for us. I just think the general public doesn't realize that we have a point of view also, and that is what the article was trying to bring to the forefront. But we need to remember to extend that same courtesy to our clients.

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  38. I work the reception desk at an emergency vet clinic and it is one of the most emotionally and mentally draining jobs I've had, but I love what I do more than I can express. Every day is just like you describe. From pulling into the parking lot and seeing a lot full of cars and then trying to jump in to get started, whether its preparing and consoling patients for euthanasing their beloved pet or reviewing a treatment plan with an owner who has limited funds, it's challenging every day that I am here. I continue to come back because I love what I do, I love these animals and I know that what we do makes a difference, despite being told we're only after the money, despite having patients throw paperwork or credit cards at you, and despite being verbally abused or threatened by owners. I only wish the pet owners could read this, their really the one's that need to be educated on what it is we really do.

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  39. Thank you for this. It beautifully sums up what those in this industry go through. I've been in the field for 10 years. It takes a toll on us, but for those who make this a career, we are called to do this, we do it because if we didn't who would be left to do it, those without the compassion and empathy that is so needed for these animals, large, small or exotic. I am the practice manager for a hybrid practice, we see routine and emergency. So sometimes when we have to tell a client that their 15 yr old dog has cancer and there's nothing we can do, we are often telling a friend that we can't save their best buddy of 15 yrs who we have known for her entire life. And we have to be the one to end their suffering. I watch my vets agonize over patients, lose sleep, shed tears and I worry for them. They are truly special people who deserve more, but they choose to do this and I thank God for that. Remember to thank your vets and their support team, and if you hear someone claim their vet killed their pet, remember, maybe they waited a week to bring their pet in while she suffered and treatment was too expensive and they don't want to take responsibility. Or they wanted the kids to experience the miracle of birth so they allowed their Chihuahua to get pregnant and now she needs a $1500 surgery they can't afford. For those of you who continue to fight the good fight God bless!

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  40. Your post is exactly why after getting in to Veterinary school...all the work...I decided to not go. I worked as a tech while in undergrad and I saw the same things you have written about here. Bless you and your colleagues.

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    1. Nichole, after struggling for twenty years with student loans I still owe more than when I graduated, so I have to say I am rather glad you decided to choose another career. Until something changes in the profession, or the cost of education, I don't recommend it as a career choice to young people. Granted I went through school as a single mother of two small children, but still, I love my job, can't imagine doing anything else, but trying to figure out how to pay off my loans and own a home and plan for retirement: I can see why some people just give up. The financial end of it is what flattens me.

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  41. Relatively new to emergency vet med as a triage nurse. In my short time I can easily understand your passion, daily challenges, etc. Thanks for posting.

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  42. I have great admiration and respect for our veterinarian. Over the past 4 years he has sadly had to put 2 of our beloved dogs to sleep. Both were 14 at the time of their passing - one a Blue Heeler and one Border Collie. The tears from their staff spoke volumes and just before administering that lethal dose he gave our dogs a kiss on the head, whispered "No more pain" and they peacefully went to sleep while we held them. Our vet was honest enough to tell us that treatment versus side effects, versus quality of life - not quantity - could cause an extreme emotional impact on us and stress on our pets with no guarantee their health would improve. His eyes were red as he said "I'll give you 2 some time alone" and walked out of the room. The "bedside manner" our precious pets received was unbelievable and when we picked up the ashes I left them with a little poem about the job they do and I will forever be grateful for their care, courtesy and compassion.

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  43. I have wanted to go to school to become a vet tech so bad and for a long time, but unfortunately I'm in the category of a low income family that is just trying to keep the families heads above water. If I wasn't already in debt with student loan for a course I found out half way through I didn't want to do I would take the course. Unfortunately right now I can't but hopefully in the future, and it is because of you guys that I want to become a vet tech, that and I love animals! You guys are the reason so many animals get to live long and happy lives. I know that sometimes bad things happen but if you guys were not there there wouldn't be any chance of the bad becoming good <3

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  44. Thank you for sharing. Hope you feel a little better now that you know how a lot of the people commenting feel. Thank you for what you do! You're a great writer, by the way.

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  45. I was a vet tech loved my job and you are totally right it is not all puppies and kittens...having to deal with helping euthenize, dealing with the horrible and dreaded parvo when it is sooo easy to prevent..i think my worst complaint about people is they buy animals and want to breed them because oh their puppies will be beautiful! I am sure they will be but they do grow up...people just keep breeding just to breed them and it is frustrating bc noone pays attention to bloodlines anymore..it is how can i make a quick buck...soo frustrating!!

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  46. It didn't mention the person that comes in and wants a health animal put down because they "just cant take care of it anymore" and refuses to accept that someone else may have a home that can take care of it. Then several weeks later comes in with a new kitten or puppy or both. And gets mad because you kept the previous pet alive. They didn't mention the person that comes in and wants a health animal put down because they "just cant take care of it anymore" and refuses to accept that someone else may have a home that can take care of it. Then several weeks later comes in with a new kitten or puppy or both. And gets mad because you kept the previous pet alive. Just one more difficult situation that makes vets " a bred of their own" Thank you.

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  47. I lost all three pets last year to old age which involved lots of awful things prior to each of their last days. One had to go to a 24 your clinic an hour away, the other two, a block. It was hard for all of us, and that includes my vet clinic family. They were there for me for everything. It was hard for them to say goodbye to us,for a time and our animals. Our dog Mudslide especially. I know we left some of the crying in that clinic when we left. We would see them around town and they would ask how we were, sad,but ok. It took some healing time but we have 2 new family members, Fizgig and Jinx, both adorable white furball kitties. Nothing feels better than walking into the clinic with cute healthy happy fuzzballs and see them all smile. I missed all of them and was so happy to see them. to cut it short;) thanks for everything you do. I do know its not all puppies and kitties, but we try to help with that. You faces are the ones we see at our unhappiest moments,we know and appreciate it. so thank you,again.

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  48. What a great article and thank you for sharing your job with us. Those of us who love our animals can never thank you all enough for doing what you do. My Vet had to euthanize my dog a few weeks ago after months of trying to "fix"her aging body to no avail. He came to my home and his compassion and sensitivity were amazing and so very much appreciated. He explained everything and once it was finished and he took her body, I sat in chair and was so very, very thankful for his gentle touch and his manner. He knew how much I loved my pet, but he also knew how much she was suffering and was wonderful in assuring me I had made the right decision. THANK YOU so much for doing what you do. We all may not understand, but there are many of us who do.

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  49. There are many of us out here who know and appreciate you and what you do for our furbabies. You have a job that is both rewarding and heartbreaking, and the attitude of some people towards you sickens me. Veterinarians, like child care and old workers, are badly underpaid and undervalued - I don't know what the answer is, the only good thing about it is we know that people enter those professions because of their incredible compassion, because it definitely isn't for the dollars.

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  50. perfect and eloquent article. we all live this in some small way weekly. I do recommend learning the text of the Good Samaritan story as written from the Bible to quote to the charming folks who like to say things like "Well, you're no Good Samaritan". No, I reply, the Good Samaritan found the battered man by the side of the road, took him to the inn, and with his own coin paid for him to have a doctor's care and lodging until he was well. You, my friend, are the one failing to heed the words of the Teacher.
    You have brought this animal for care, in from danger. I commend you. Where is your coin?

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  51. I have been practicing for almost 13 years now. I can tell you that it does get easier as your skin gets thicker. But you never lose that inward compassion and heartbreak - both of which make you a good veterinarian. I have become better at separating myself, but there are still days, and cases, that plague my mind. All that being said, we have the best job in the world and I wouldn't trade what I do for millions of dollars or anything else. :) Keep your chin up, and get kisses from every puppy that comes near your stethoscope! :)

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  52. I know all of what you said is true, and that is one of many reasons I love my vet... for fifteen years he has treated our MANY pets with skill and kindness and has shown great compassion for us when one of our beloved pets died, both through natural causes or because they reached the end of treatment options and needed to be euthanized. Bravo to you and all of your veterinary brothers and sisters!

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  53. Beautifully written, and so very true. I am also an ER veterinarian, and our world is quite special.
    I am also a "type A" person, so please take this next comment as a gentle reminder from a self-admitted grammar freak: The word "it's" is a contraction of "it is" or "it has." To indicate possession (or a neutral gender), the proper word is "its." So, the puppy was waiting for "its" owners," and "it's" hard to euthanize. If you can't change the word to "it is" or "it has," then leave out the apostrophe. :-)

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  54. I have a great respect for anyone who goes into veterinary medicine, let alone the ER aspect. You must have a great strenght to see animals and their owners in the worst light. My own vets (both large and small animal) are amazing people. Thank you t them, you and all the others who take on this responsibility so my furry loved ones have a better life and eventual passing.

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  55. I think when you realize that the clients who are in an emergency clinic are there because it is a dire situation. Many times, you will see people who, because of the situation, are at their very worst. They are frightened, worried, panicky and yes, sometimes guilty (because they know that letting their pet suffer for a week after eating a cactus was the wrong thing to do) when they arrive. Most often, they have no idea what is wrong, how bad it is, because their pet can't tell them anything. They feel helpless, useless and that they have no control. So of course, they are going to be awful. Add to that the expense usually associated with emergency care, and then add to THAT the bad news that these are the only options to euthanasia. It's really the perfect storm. I have been fortunate to work, in the past, with an organization that typically had low income clients, and with it, medical issues associated with lack of good preventative care. But we took pride in being able to, in extreme cases, make payment arrangements, use an angel fund, or find alternative - less expensive - treatment plans. Sometimes it meant trying a less expensive medication, tackling the most critical issues first then coming back for followup treatment. I've even heard of veterinarians who allowed clients to 'pay off' some of their bill by volunteering (although we did not do that). While it is never easy to break bad news, it felt good to be able to at least offer possible alternatives when clients were unable to afford the cadillac treatments.

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  56. I thank God for vets like you. I have a 4 month old husky/border collie puppy and I'm so in love with him I'm already thinking about what I will do when I don't get to have him in my live any longer. The world needs compassionate, loving people like you. Please move to Salt Lake and be Milo's vet!!!

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  57. What the vet doesn't get to see is the recovery at home of some animal whose life they have saved, and how much joy that brings to the family. What a pity we don;t share that more often.
    My favourite vet visits used to be the pre-natal checkup for a breeding queen. We would have silly 10c bets on how many babies.

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  58. I have a daughter who is an ER Vet and my son's partner is a General Pract Vet what makes me furious is how little they are valued not only by the general public but Practice Owners. If my daughter worked out her hourly rate I doubt if she'd reach minimum wage but she never counts the cost and I've lost count of the tears she's shed and hugs she's needed.. Vets certainly aren't in the profession for monetary gain.

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  59. Thank you for your poignant view of your practice and your chosen field. As a pet owner of long standing, with 2 very dear friends who are our vets, I too have seen them both cry when they must end our pets suffering. I can not imagine going through this every day several times a day as once in awhile is enough for me. My vets do an amazing job of keeping our animals healthy. We also have cattle and horses and large vets get a bad rap too. We couldn't have either or pets without these two kind and caring doctors. By the way, I have a nephew and nephew-in-law that are vets. God bless you for all you do.

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  60. Thanks for sharing. My family figured I would become a vet, but instead I became a nurse. I value my vet highly and can sympathize with the joys and the pains.

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  61. As a long time rescuer of dogs and cats, I am so very grateful for this blog. So many people put off getting immediate care, with an attitude of "wait and see."

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  62. Thank you for your well-written post. My daughter is a vet tech and I know the reality of her job. I did notice that you failed to include those who bring in their pets for treatment but somehow forget to bring in their money and then cry out as if you were a charitable society instead of a business with overhead and taxes. Or those who illegally dump un-weaned kittens and puppies, in cardboard boxes, at the back door as if you were an adoption agency.
    Again, thanks for the excellent post. I will share.

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  63. I'm not sure what to make of this. I only read up to the story of the dog that had cactus needles penetrating its digestive system. Let's say the owner brought the dog in the next day after learning the dog ingested a cactus. Or lets say the owner wasn't aware the dog had eaten a cactus and didn't know anything was wrong until after several day when the dog started exhibiting symptoms. Either way, the owner doesn't have $1500 on hand to pay the bill which we know most vets demand either a portion of up front, or immediately following the surgery before they will release the dog back to the owner. Then what? As the story says, the vet knows they have the ability to save this dog but instead leave the owner with no option BUT to euthanize their beloved pet because their bank account doesn't match that of the vets. Not everyone has friends or family they can run to for a quick $1500 loan. I'm more inclined to believe this is the typical scenario in vet clinics across the country, not the "angry" pet owner scenario relayed in this story. Pet owners may get angry AFTER having to deal with a vet that seems to put payment before their pets life. And face it, that's the way it comes across no matter how vets want to look at it.

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    1. Sadly, there is no other option.

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    2. If I were a vet I would start an angel mound for pets in need and I know I would do some things or free I would not be able to help but pay from my own pocket sometime as a healer

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    3. Vets have to insist on payment before/at time of treatment because when they have previously been generous and allowed people to pay off procedures they are rewarded with bad debtors and having to cover the cost themselves.

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    4. I agree with "Unknown" above me.. but I will also add that when you take in a pet, you take the responsibility to care for that pet. You are not forced to own a pet that you cannot care for. Owning a pet is a privilege and if you cannot come up with a financial way to provide for them, then you should not own it. I'm not saying they need for fork up the 1,500 right off the bat. But when you adopt a pet, you should do one of the following: Open a savings acct specifically for the unexpected costs of your pet that you put $10 from each paycheck into, or get a credit card that is for pet use only (you can even get cute ones with your pet's picture on it), or invest in insurance. These are things that you should think about BEFORE taking in a pet because an unexpected emergency is bound to happen at some point in your pets life.

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    5. You may be surprised how many people flat out don't pay, which is why vets have to have a policy of payment/deposit at time of service. I've seen owners on multiple occasions consent to surgeries/treatments/etc (some really really expensive ones), and the clinic never see a cent. The overhead/labor/other costs for clinics in scenarios like this are huge, and clinics can't stay open if they have to eat those costs on a regular basis.
      I recommend that people think about emergency situations in advance- think about how much you are able/willing to spend (In an emergency it can be difficult to make rational financial decisions), and I agree 100% with Amber- start setting a small amt aside into an emergency fund.

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    6. A few of our clients actually set up an account at the clinic that they pay into monthly. That way it's a credit on their account, if they ever have an emergency they don't worry about funds because it's already taken care of. You have to understand, vets employ support staff. Part of that total goes to put food on the table for their team, pay their rent and utilities. They take that responsibility seriously. If they let people make payments, 75% don't pay,then they can't pay their team and on and on.

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  64. http://abcnews.go.com/US/veterinarians-sell-unnecessary-shots-tests-make-extra-money/t/story?id=20967672&ref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fl.php%3Fu%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fabcnews.go.com%252FUS%252Fveterinarians-sell-unnecessary-shots-tests-make-extra-money%252Fstory%253Fid%253D20967672%26h%3D5AQHZr_U5%26s%3D1

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  65. I have a mother who's a vet and she comes home every night saying these exact same things. My heart really goes out to you Lindsey.

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  66. good story. but if you think you are underpaid as a small animal vet then try being an equine vet. My husband just leftt on an emergency ( colic) at 8.45pm and will be lucky to be paid $150. Then then the clients will complain about how much it is and why can't they get a discount....no discount at vet school no discount from suppliers....owning a horse is a luxury not a right and the vet should not have to subsidise your hobby. You couldn't get a Dr to come to your house to see your sick child but you can get a vet to see your horse!

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  67. Thank you very much for sharing this. It basically described my day today. Thirteen years as a vet, 25 in the field and, despite the heart break, chaos and lack of appreciation, I would never change what I do. The more I do it, the more I love it. As time goes on, I just try to find ways to make the bads into goods. Again, thank you for sharing - could not have said it better. K. Kivi, BSc, DVM - Ontario, Canada

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  68. Thank you for this! My husband and sister are both veterinarians and I see them both suffer on many days when they have nights like you did. It happens all too often, and its heartbreaking! Thank you for reminding me of what they both put up with on a daily basis and how much healing they truly provide!

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  69. I appreciate all that you do, my heart goes out to you. Make sure you share some of that TLC with yourself---you certainly deserve it!

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  70. I am no vet, just a simple dogowner. I once considered beeing a vet. What you Write here is what held me back. I admire what you do, and thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you do for our pets. Thank You for having the strength to keep going

    Ann Helen

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  71. Retired this year after 40 years as a small/exotic animal veterinarian and can not conceive of a better way to have spent my life than devoting it to the care and well being of animals. Sure, you have happy days and sad, good clients and 'bad', sweet animals and not so sweet ones but, overall...it was a great 40 years with the balance swinging heavily to the rewarding side. Veterinarians, as a whole, are in this profession because they want to do good, not because they want to get rich. I pity any veterinarian who went into this profession for the money and not for the love of the animals.

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  72. I admire those that have chosen your profession. I once thought I wanted to be a vet, but worried I couldn't handle exactly what you describe. My vet team is family, they have been through a lot with us and our pets. I wish I could do more to thank them for the love they have shown not only my dogs, but to me and my husband.

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  73. thanks for sharing...I admire and esteem vets very,very highly. I think they are some of the coolest people on the planet and I could not manage my canine friends without them. Thank God I am in a position to take my dogs right in when they have a problem and get them treated in a timely manner...I know some people are in an unfortunate financial position that limits their options for treatment for their pets when something happens....I feel bad for them....but then, there are always those who act irresponsibly and don';t manage their affairs well and in their immaturity, project the blame ANYWHERE else, i.e., the innocent veterinarian who has the misfortune to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Ah, human nature...sometimes it sucks.
    please know that MOST of us really,really appreciate and admire you for what you do and that there will always be a few jerks.

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  74. As another veterinarian, I think what you said here is spot on and eloquently said. I cringe every time I hear a kid tell me they want to be a veterinarian when they grow up. I also understand why I wasn't greeted with enthusiastic excitement when I was that kid telling any veterinarian I could find how much I wanted to be one when I grew up.

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  75. I am not a vet. I don't even know any other than one who sees my pet's. But I very recently loss my dog do to complications following a bloat surgery. And I was heart broken. I was told very clearly my dog had a 50/50 shot and for that reason alone I could not ever blame the vet for her passing. It's not like he said 'she will do great go home and don't worry' I like other owners knew the risk when I said try surgery. I would have been grateful just for the fact that he did the surgery and was honest. But he went a step past that and stayed at work way past his his shift and stayed with my dog untill she passed. He had a family at home waiting and chose to put my family first and tried to save my dog. That's a level of selflessness you don't see often. I am so grateful for his honestly, compassion and knowledge. I know with out doubt my dog passing was not an error on his part. And I don't regret the surgery. I feel better knowing that I gave her a shot at life even if she was not strong enough to make it. Putting her down right away would have made me winder forever if I did the right thing.

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  76. I lost a dog on the table earlier this year - from a med overdose by a tech. I knew the surgeon was as gutted as I was. He said he was surprised by my empathy toward him. It made me sad to think my response was so atypical. The loss was devastating - but no amount of nastiness was going to bring my dog back, so why be an 'ugly' person? No doctor wants to lose a patient... we both lost someone that day.

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  77. I'd like to say thank you for sharing your job with the world. However, in defense of the pet owner, so many just do not know. They are not educated and shelters and puppy/cat sellers are not informing the pet owner on proper care, or are they sometimes even educated on proper care.

    Vets can NOT be the only people who know what's best...The vet is just the person who is supposed to "fix" it after a pet owner messed it up.

    I'm an advocate (strong one) for PET OWNER and VETS working together. Too many pet owners hand their animals over to the vet and say "fix it" without being a health advocate of them. PREVENTION is not only for diseases, it's for accidents, like eating a cactus.

    Too many accidents are preventable, but pet owners are too busy humanizing their pets and looking at life through their own eyes, not their pets. And they get tons of bad advice. I wish more vets and shelters would offer classes like ours...
    Are you ready for a puppy.." It really DOES make people think!

    Again, thank you for sharing your story....and thank you for what you do.

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  78. $45,000/year? I don't think so! http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Healthcare/Veterinarians.htm

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    1. What you don't realize is this is the AVERAGE across all kinds of practices.. Mixed, agricultural, small animal, independent, big city/rural farm town, etc.. and what also is not included here is the divergence of Board Certified Specialists (+1yr Internship +3yr Residency) into this pay bracket. Those individuals who are Specialists (Surgeons, Cardiologists, Internal Medicine, Oncologists, etc) will make the median higher.
      It would be best to have something which states an apple for an apple but yes - this statistic is from 2010 and reasonably accurate.

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  79. I just lost a very beloved dog this past weekend. She was in the CCU for three days on oxygen, and was taken such good care of. The only thing that made it okay for me to leave her there was the obvious compassion and love for her the staff had. And I could see and feel the sorrow everyone felt when we had to let her go. I'm off to buy that card I've been meaning to send them---thank you for the reminder that we need to appreciate those who love our animals too, and who are gentle and compassionate with us.

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  80. I want to become a veterinarian because I love animals and I want to treat the sick animals.
    Veterinarians in Alabama

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  81. Having taken three dogs in to the veterinary office for euthanasia in the past ten years (they were all older dogs. . . one was just days away from dying), I appreciate your compassion for the scenario you presented. Every job has its tough side. Thanks for the tough side of veterinary medicine. You and your vet technicians have a tough job working with all those pet owners.

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  82. Great Stuff always love to hear such motivated articles which enhances me do different experiments in my professional life because as a veterinarian i use to take care of customers pets with high care so these types of articles are such a great help for practices on different animal related disease appreciated work Lindsey Lane Verlander

    https://www.veritasdvm.com/

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  83. You said, in the last paragraph, "and side note, average salary for a veterinarian is $45,000/year."

    According to the AVMA, as of 2012 the average for small animal (companion) vets was about $100,000 a year - see page 19 here:
    https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Reports/Documents/Veterinarian-Workforce-Final-Report-LowRes.pdf

    What is your source?

    Thanks,
    Jon Sutz

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  84. I hope the average Vet salary IS $100K per year; you guys deserve it. And no, I'm not a Vet nor am I married to one or have one in the family. When my dog Anni had leukemia, my vet explained things far more clearly than my friend's doctor did when she was in the same boat. I've always had great vet care for my canine and feline family members

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  85. I read the article that Jon refers to and I'd sure like to know how they collected that data. I don't know a single full time small animal practitioner that is making anywhere near 100K a year. Business owners, yes maybe, but the majority of small animal vets aren't business owners. I wonder if the salaries in the big cities and in the Northern , Northeastern US could have skewed the numbers, or if Big Corporate did. Especially those high 2006 numbers! I recall when I graduated in 2006 that the starting salary was around 60,000! And it hasn't really gone up from there.

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  86. Heartbreaking!! Prayers for ALL vets and their staff! Everything you do makes a huge difference. This world is a better place because of you all. You ARE God's hands helping His beloved animals. God bless and prosper you in all you do. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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  87. I am the owner of 2 dogs and 3 cats, and, many, many little ones I've had the honor to be their Mommy in the past. I noticed one important element in your article missing, "Prayer" you didn't mention prayer Lindsey. It's time for you to step aside and let someone else handle the negative effects of being an emergency Vet! Unfortunately, many Vets do it for the money, and, people's pets are just a number.

    I think, you should work in a Vets office that does holistic medicine, evaluations, checkups and followups. Preventable medicine is important and it starts with lifestyle. Educating pet lovers about people food, cactus plants, etc. Too many vaccines kill and cause cancer in dogs and cats. Distemper shots cause distemper in dogs. I'm not a Vet, but, I do a lot of research, and I talk to a lot of Vets, I ask a lot of questions, and I get answers.

    I don't believe in medication that causes serious side effects or protocol medication that kills dogs in the emergency procedure. Medication can cause death, read the side effects. Disease doesn't kill people and pets, medications do. The side effects are worse than the disease.

    Also, let me share this with you, recently, my Beagle got loose, and, she ended up in the shelter for 20 minutes. In that 20 minutes, they gave her a distemper shot and a shot of Bordetella vaccine. When I got her home, she was wheezing, choking and gasping for air. I gave her benadryl for a few days, then, she started peeing blood! I didn't know what to do. I had no money, but, I called the Vet, and, they said it was $90.00 to test her urine. I said, WHAT? I hung up the phone looked at my Beagle, and I said, Cleo, we are going to pray to the Lord Jesus Christ, and we are going to trust God, that we are going to get through this. Then, I went to the internet, and, I read all the blogs, experiences, and the Vets that were helping people who had no money like me. And, BINGO, there it was, my answer I was looking for, go to the vitamin shop and buy the little round Cranberry Pills with Vitamin C included. I gave Cleo these pills for a couple of days, and BAM, no more blood in her urine. That's what holistic medicine is about. It works without side effects!

    Lindsey, change your method of treatment become a holistic Vet, encourage preventative medicine.

    I have two rescue kittens, ruts that were left to die under my deck by the mother, they were under developed, and my husband and I nursed them back to good health. I would never put them under the knife because the risk out ways the benefit if they got nurtured! I'm not a Vet, but, I'm smart enough to know that, and, you should be smart enough to know that too. They are happy, playing, eating and healthy, it would make us feel horrible if we put them under the knife and they didn't make it!

    Veterinary emergency medicine has become a business, I think you know that.

    People who rescue animals don't realize that emergency rooms for animals are investor animal hospitals. They hand pet owners their dead dogs with a huge bill adding up to thousands of dollars.

    My advice to you Lindsey is this, take your talent else where and use it for good, volunteer your time to help animals who's Mommy and Daddy's can't afford to pay these high Vet bills. Educate pet owners about the serious side effects that are in medicines prescribed to your dogs. Side Effects cause cancer.

    Your a Vet, you want to save lives, therefore, take a different approach, and you will save more lives than you ever imagined! I believe in you Lindsey do it!

    Trust God! Read God's Word: Proverbs 3:5&6

    Animal Speciality Center
    The Princess Tiffany Story
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXZ_gxcPIvM

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  88. This piece right here is exactly why I couldn't be a vet. I seriously considered it. I had the grades, I could have done it. But I already knew that this was the kind of thing that would be happening on a daily basis, and I knew I couldn't handle that. Even saving some wouldn't help me with having to deal with so much pain. I have the utmost respect for all the vets and vet staff out there who deal with this every day. I don't know how you do it, but I'm very grateful that you're there.

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  89. I have a 21 month old mixed breed. She is fairly good sized, 25" tall and a lean 66 lbs. I compete in rally obedience and agility with her.
    Her problem is she has very little stamina. My 8 yr old dog can run circles around her. I take then out to play ball, after 10-15 minutes she is worn out, while my 8 yr old is still going strong. After a 10 minute break, the old dog is fine, the youngster is still panting, and breathing hard for another 20 minutes.
    The heat does get to her, and I have a cooling coat on order to keep her comfortable at trials. They are on a good quality dog food. She does have a vet appt for a check up, check for heart issues, run a blood panel, etc.
    Just wondering if anyone has used any type of supplement to help increase stamina.
    I'm looking into Power Boost, Go Dog, or Endurance.
    high quality Dog Supplement

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  90. I remember being a young child and dreaming one day of becoming a veterinarian. The thought of working with animals brought me great joy, and I longed to save every furry creature that came across my path.
    Veterinary Manufacturer India are reaching worldwide. Most everyone knows that I achieved that dream and proudly serve my community as a small animal veterinarian. It makes me happy to help animals in need and to educate pet parents simultaneously. I love my job.

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