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Veterinarians simultaneously have my dream job of getting to see puppies and kittens every day and my nightmare job of putting down sick pets. Here are one vet’s confessions about treating pit bulls, crying at work and her biggest mistake (hint: it involves a bobcat).
What’s the most common reason pets end up at the vet?
My day is mostly filled with ear infections, urinary tract infections and what we call ADR (ain’t doin’ right).
ADR is a real term used widely by veterinarians and it means the owner feels something is wrong but can’t pin-point what.
Any types of pets that you just don’t like?
Believe it or not, small dogs can be some of the hardest to work with. People attracted to these dogs tend to baby them and then they become like unruly children.
When I see a pit bull come in at the same time as a dachshund I always have my fingers crossed I get the pit bull.
What’s the best part about your job? The worst?
The best part is seeing healthy animals, especially puppies and kittens.
The worst part is when people don’t understand that our job is a labor of love. We don’t do it for the money (we are in serious debt and make way less than you think). So when people say things like”you just want to sell me this product” or “it’s your fault this happened,” it’s soul crushing.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made at work?
Someone once brought their ‘cat’ to see us for a routine exam. Usually I look in the carrier first to make sure they are calm enough to come out. This time I didn’t.
I opened the carrier and a bobcat kitten hops out and bites me in the hand. Then it starts to streak through the back of the hospital urinating and clawing at anyone that got near it.
It took forever to trap it and I put all the staff in a dangerous situation.
Do you cry when you have to put pets down?
I can usually stay composed these days.
The only exception is the euthanasia where the family doesn’t want to be involved.
We do our best to comfort the pet by having a staff member hold and stroke them and tell them how good they’ve been, but they always look around for their family. It’s heartbreaking.
What’s one thing you wish more pet parents did?
BE HONEST! If your pet got into something you’re ashamed of, just tell us.
We have heard it all before. Condoms, underwear, tampons, drugs… nothing surprises us anymore. The quicker you tell us the real story the quicker we can help.
Also, if you tell me you have drugs in your home I do not go the cops.
Do you ever sell pet owners treatments they don’t need?
I don’t make extra money based on what we do for your pet. If I recommend something it’s because I think it needs to be done.
I once interviewed for a popular chain of veterinary clinics where I was offered extra pay based on the number of patients I would be able to see each day —which meant the less time I spent (and less testing and treatment I did) the MORE money I would have made.
Tell me about your most interesting case.
I had an adorable fish patient that the owners had paid fifteen cents for and they loved him like a child. He had started floating up to the top of the tank and had trouble getting back down.
In fish this can be due to a problem with their swim bladder. We ended up doing ultrasound and even CT scans.
In the end we found he needed a special diet to help get the extra gas out of his system.
You should never assume what people will be willing to do for their pets. Just because they could get a new fish for a few cents didn’t mean they would not do everything possible for this one.
Any other confessions?
I can’t say that we treat your pet better than other pets if you bring us gifts, but we will certainly remember you and them.
I’m more likely to stay after hours to help a dog whose owner sends us Christmas cards each year because I have formed an attachment to them.