In honor of World Veterinary Day (April 27), veterinarian and American Humane board member Dr. Brian Beale authored a blog post for us on the importance of the profession and his favorite parts of being a vet.
World Veterinary Day is a perfect time to think about the important role animals play in our lives and to recognize veterinarians around the world for their dedication, expertise, and compassion.
I always grin when I see my favorite bumper sticker as I drive down the road: the picture of a dog in need with the caption “Who Saved Who?”
Our pets clearly depend on us for love and care, but what they do for us far outweighs our role. The bond between humans and pets continues to reach new levels. Pets seem to know when we have had a bad day, when we need a pick-up or when we need someone to lean on to get things off our chest. A pet’s expression and close contact can quickly brighten your demeanor and outlook. They give us solace, give us hope and bring happiness almost instantly.
An important question to ask is what makes a person become a veterinarian? It is certainly not financial. Most veterinarians experienced the wonders of animals at an early age and began their pursuit of a veterinary career early in life. I decided I wanted to become a veterinarian when I was 9 years of age. My grandparents had a big influence on my love for animals and this ultimately led me down the path of veterinary medicine. My grandparents loved big dogs and always had two or three English Mastiffs or St. Bernards. I loved to visit them for long weekends so I could spend as much time as possible with the dogs. I spent most of these weekends covered in drool! I admired my grandparents incredibly because they taught me the importance of the human-animal bond and the responsibility we have to give our pets the best care possible. They did not hesitate to drive their pets from Alexandria, Virginia to the University of Pennsylvania to receive advanced medical care when needed, not something commonly done back in the 1970s.
Fortunately, excellent general and specialized veterinary care are available almost everywhere now. The veterinarians, their nurses and support staff have a common mission: to provide exemplary medical care and compassion to your pet and bring a sense of relief and happiness to your entire family. My devoted colleagues provide the best care because they care deeply in their core about their patients and families. This passion is not limited to the United States – I see the same level of passion all over the world – when I meet veterinarians and pet owners at meetings and teaching events in Europe, Asia, Central America, South America, and Australia/New Zealand.
I love being a veterinarian because I can actually say it feels like I have never worked a day in my life. My day is filled with helping animals feel and function better. I can’t tell you how good it feels to hear an owner thank me while a tear runs down their cheek. I especially enjoy making friends with their pets and gaining their confidence and affection. I get to pet dogs and cats all day – talk about a sweet job! And some days I am really lucky and get to work with the animals at the Houston Zoo and their expert veterinary staff. Some of the fascinating animals I have helped treat include tigers, lions, leopards, monkeys, birds, emus, otters, penguins, sloths, sea turtles, donkeys, sheep, and kangaroos… to name a few.
I am especially fortunate in my veterinary career because it has been filled with diversity and excitement. I was fortunate to get the opportunity to become a specialty surgeon, giving me the chance to work with state-of-the-art equipment and very challenging clinical patients. My interest in education and clinical research has given me the opportunity to travel the globe to educate and raise the level of veterinary care around the world. I have also been able to reach out to pet owners to raise awareness of potential problems their pets may encounter and the available treatment options they have to get the best patient outcomes. My ability to reach out to pet owners all over the world was made possible by hosting the radio program, Your Pet’s Health and starring in Nat Geo Wild’s TV show, Animal ER.
I am excited about the future for our pets and their families as I know we will continue to develop better technology and treatments to lessen pain, improve function and lengthen quality of life of our very important family members – our pets. Give your Vet or one of their team members a big thank you and hug on this important day.
By: Brian Beale, DVM, Diplomate ACVS