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Veterinarians in 2020: Better Times Ahead

Oh, 2020. We’re all going through it, and as economic and health concerns still take up most of the headlines, it’s essential that we all pause and think about what’s going right, in our lives and in the world. Not all of it is bad news — for instance, did you know that dogs can detect Covid-19?

We want to focus more of that positivity on veterinarians.

As of late, veterinary-focused news stories and social media posts have covered angry clients, long waits, and the struggle to get pet owners on board with new veterinary protocols. But there are plenty of signs that the veterinary world is adapting, and for many clinics, business is booming. More clinics have started using telemedicine to treat patients, and a whole new generation of pet owners is growing up in a world where vets are never more than a video conference call away.

Let’s take a quick break from bad news and remember a few things that make being a vet one of the most rewarding jobs in the world.

Veterinarians in the News

These are our favorite stories about veterinarians triumphing in the face of adversity, and giving both wild and domestic animals a better quality of life.

Wildfire Veterinary Heroes

It’s been tricky for veterinary students to get the hands-on experience they need during a pandemic. But one group of vet students in California has been thrown into the deep end. The VERT (Veterinary Emergency Response Team) has deployed to the wildfire zone to help with search-and-rescue missions and provide emergency aid to approximately 600 animals in the vicinity of the North Complex fire.

Gorilla Knee Replacement

Dr. Mike Casey, an orthopedic surgeon, assisted the veterinary surgical team at the Knoxville Zoo operate on the knee of a young gorilla. He informed his patients he’d be out of the office for a day, and when he told them why, “They got a big kick out of it. They were less interested in their own knee problems and more interested in Andi the gorilla,” he told CBS news. Andi has since recovered nicely and returned to the zoo.

New Wings for a Hawk

Veterinarians in El Salvador grafted a new set of wings onto a large-beaked hawk. Its owner had tried to cut down its wings to keep it from flying. Luckily for the hawk, a surgical team performed a 2-hour surgery that gave the bird back his ability to fly, using feathers from a hawk that had already died. El Salvadoran Authorities say that this hawk is part of a larger trend of keeping wild animals in captivity.

Record-Setting Tumor on Loggerhead

Dr. Terry Norton removed a 14.2-pound tumor from a loggerhead sea turtle’s fin in September. A family found the sea turtle during a boating trip and brought it to the local Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys. Veterinarians at the hospital said it was the largest tumor they had ever removed. We can only imagine how much happier that sea turtle will be once it returns to the ocean, tumor-free.

Animal & Human Health Connection

Recent studies have underlined just how important animals are to human health, and by association, just how essential veterinarians are. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of animals in our lives, and plenty of outlets have published stories about how animals helped us get through quarantine.

Need a mental break? Science suggests you’re due for a trip to the farm. A recent study found that teens who interact with horses are more likely to grow into emotionally well-adjusted adults. Another study demonstrated that working with farm animals has mental health benefits.

And it’s not just working with animals that provides a mental boost. A study of college students established the stress-relieving benefits of petting animals. To the surprise of no one, a new study offers evidence that simply watching cute animals videos could also provide stress relief. The study took patients with fast heartbeats and high blood pressure and showed them 30-minute videos of quokkas, adorable rodents from Australia. Most patients experienced a significant drop in blood pressure, and even the patient with the highest blood pressure got down to a healthy range.

Dogs have earned the title of man’s best friend, but science is catching on to the fact that cats care for their humans as well. Research has shined a light on the human-cat connection, with a Japanese study that demonstrated that cats can imitate their owners’ actions.

These are only the latest studies telling us what many of us already knew: Taking care of animals is good for our psychological health.

Bright Futures

As we continue to learn more about the importance of the human/animal bond, vets can continue to demand more from their profession. We’re building the remote tools that allow veterinarians to charge for their time and expertise and minimize time spent on busywork.

Veterinarians chose their career path because they love animals. With improved technology, it’s getting easier for their job to love them back.

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