Veterinarians Earn Their Props: Thank Your Vet


Enter A Contest to Thank Your Vet for a Healthy Pet

            Las Vegas, NV.  The Morris Animal Foundation (a not-for-profit funding humane health studies to advance veterinary medicine) and Merial (an animal health pharmaceutical company) announced at the Western Veterinary Conference that they’re co-sponsoring a contest to honor veterinarians. At a luncheon on February 20, Dr. Patricia Olson, president and CEO of the Morris Animal Foundation said, “Vets are on the front lines, and recognition is long overdo.”

            According to a 2006 Gallup Poll, veterinarians were only a nose behind pharmacists and nurses as the most honest and ethical professionals.

            We help animals and in doing so we help families,” said Dr. Janet Donlin, assistant executive vice president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), based in Schaumburg, IL.

            That’s true, but what makes vets special is an unselfish way of going about it, and almost always without fanfare. Dr, Greg Hammer of Dover, DE is president elect of the AVMA, who just returned from a trip to New Orleans. “I can tell you so many heroic stories of veterinarians who risked their own lives rescuing pets (during and following Hurricane Katrina) that never made the papers. One example is an equine veterinarian who went into flooded pastures to scan dead horses for microchips to determine if any belonged to her clients. She climbed over alligators to do this.”


Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald

            Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald from Animal Planet’s Emergency Vets added, “I can tell you about heroic efforts, right here in Colorado (Fitzgerald is in Denver), Veterinarians participated in saving livestock when we were overwhelmed by early snow storms this winter. But it’s also the little things. I know one vet student who paid for a service dog out of his own pocket because the person in need was on disability. That’s quite amazing – vet students, after all, have their own loans to pay off. Or how about the vet who cares for the classroom gerbil, and pays for that care because he feels the teacher shouldn’t have to. I can go on forever. I am so proud to be a part of this profession.”

            Heroic stories are real. There’s something unique about veterinarians, according to Dr. Bob Menardi, technical marketing manager – companion animal enterprise at Merial in Duluth, GA. “The old adage is that if your car or truck is ever broken down in a small town, you’ll have more luck being rescued by a veterinarian than the auto club; and most certainly if you happen to be traveling with a dog.”

            All small animal veterinarians in private practice have experienced the phenomenon of receiving thank you notes and gifts after euthanizing a pet.  “It’s because we’re able to compassionately end suffering with dignity,” added Hammer. “It’s tough on us sometimes; ending a life is not fun. I saw clients through three euthanasia’s today. But I also consider ending suffering a privilege.”

            “People who have pets in their lives are special people,” added Donlin. “Veterinarians are extremely fortunate to be able to work closely with them to be sure their animal companions receive the best care possible.”

            To nominate a vet for the vet appreciation contest, check out, and contribute your story about your own vet. Every vet nominated will receive a certificate of appreciation. There will be four regional winners and one Grand Prize, a $5,000 research scholarship from the Morris Animal Foundation toward a research project.

            “We know clients have been seeking a way to say ‘thank you’ (to their veterinarian) for some time, and we wanted to create something special, aside from sending chocolate,” said Olson. “Of course, chocolate is still recommended.” 

            Volunteer judges, including actress Betty White and this reporter, will determine the Regional and Grand Prize winners.