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What do you do for a living? iStock_000004407350XSmall.jpg

I treat sick animals and I put up with people.

How would you describe what you do?

In veterinary medicine you’ve got to do two things: you treat the animal, and then you’ve got to use psychology on the owner. Everyday I put up with people like that. And I make the joke that one end of the leash is easy to deal with. The other end of the leash is very difficult to deal with. If a person can’t deal with these individuals that are very demanding, that read the Internet too much, that think they know everything, if you can’t look past those people, and, bite your tongue at times, you won’t get very far.

Quick Facts!
How much do veterinarians make per year?
According to payscale.com veterinarians make between $50,000 and $90,000 per year. To see what the veterinarian interviewed here makes Click Here.

How to become a veterinarian?You will need a high school education, a college degree typically in a field of animal studies or biology, and 4 years of veterinary school. To see how this veterinarian got his start and what he said about the requirements need to become a veterinarian Click Here and Here.


But, you know, we’re really treating people psychologically, and we’re treating the animal in their health needs; whether it’s cosmetic surgery or whether it’s sick animals’ treatment, routine health care, or disease prevention. It’s a broad spectrum of needs that the animals have. And then you add the mix of the people into it, and that’s what we do here everyday. Everyday. And some days, if the moon is full, we the wackos¦You think I’m lying, but they come in that front door one after another. The ones that you just say, Oh, God, you know, they’re coming in again?

What does your work entail?

I come in at 7:30 and I begin treatment of sick animals, and I have my practice a lot different than others. I believe that the animal is in better care at home than it is sitting back here all night without anybody around it.

When you save an animal’s life or some little old lady comes in here and gives you a hug because you have saved her animal’s life. That’s what it’s all about. Some people don’t think it is. Some people think it’s money. The most rewarding thing to me is what I do for the animal.

So, all my sick animals come in between 8:00 and 9:00 in the morning, the ones I’m treating on a daily basis. I get through that, answer telephone calls, and then spend two hours doing surgery. Most are routine surgeries: spays and neuters and ear trims and tail docks, de-claws, whatever anybody wants done to their animals. And then you have your emergency surgeries¦you’ve got things that are more of a medical need rather than the routine stuff.

And then after lunch, I spend from 1:00 until 5:00 doing routine health care for animals. That’s when I have my clinics. And I used to spend”when I did large animals”from 6:00 in the morning until 10:00 at night, full tilt. Now, I’m here about eight hours a day, and I try to put everything I can do into eight hours, and that’s Monday through Friday, with emergencies at night, and a few Saturdays from eight to twelve doing routine stuff. I try not to do any of my surgeries on weekends. And then Sunday, hopefully, you sit down and you don’t have anything to do.

How did you get started as veterinarian?

I grew up on a farm and I enjoyed working with the animals there. And we had an old time veterinarian there that was pretty rough around the edges. I worked farm animals, I worked for people, I did routine healthcare for sheep and cattle and things, and I just kind of migrated that way.

At some point I finally decided that was what I wanted to do for my life’s work. I knew it when I was fourteen or fifteen years old, but it’s something that takes many people a while to figure out. There’s some place along the way that the light finally comes on and says, This is what I want to do. It doesn’t always work out that way, but that’s what most people in veterinary medicine do.

What do you like about what you do?

I like the challenge of diagnostics. I like the satisfaction of saving an animal’s life. I like the things that we do to make animals live longer, live more productive lives, spaying and neutering, and all healthcare. Now our cats are living to seventeen or eighteen years of age, and our dogs are fifteen and sixteen, and when I started practice, if you had a fourteen-year old cat, it was old. And then once in a while, it’s rewarding when somebody comes up and thanks you for what you’ve done for (Fifi) or (Foofoo). If money was in it, I wouldn’t have done large animal. Because large animal[care] was rewarding; delivering calves and treating sick animals, and the fire engine calls were lots of fun, but there was no money in it. There never is any money.

The animal has very little ability to tell you where it hurts; whether they’re feeling better or whether you’re doing the right thing…Diagnosing sick animals is the most challenging part of it all…

Now, the equine specialists, they get lots of money. But it takes a person that can really bullshit to be an equine specialist. And it takes a certain person to be any kind of a specialist. You’ve got to kind of bullshit your way through it.

What do you dislike?

Probably the biggest thing I dislike about it is having to put up with the general public. I don’t mind the hours working. Some people do, not me. But, people griping, complaining about a bill or, you know, it just kind of¦you can be having a great day, and somebody come in and complain about their bill, and it just ruins your whole day. That’s the thing that I hate about it. I really do.

How do you make money/or how are you compensated?

Disease prevention, vaccinations, routine healthcare is probably where most of the income is generated. Surgery can be a source of income. The sale of healthcare products: flea products, heartworm preventions, even prescription dog foods is another source of income. Probably the thing that you get least for your time is in diagnostic and treating sick animals, as far as your percentage of time you spend with an animal, compared to what you do with the routine things: the vaccinations and healthcare¦But, those are your areas where you make money.

How much money do you make as a veterinarian?

You know, in a single-man practice like mine that’s established, grossing a half a million dollars, is probably going to take home $100,000…..These multi-million dollar practices, multi-practice, some of them are making $250,000. But that takes a long time to get that and you have a lot of people working for you.

Are there any perks to this career?

I enjoy most of the animals and I enjoy a certain part of my clientele. It’s something to come in here and be able to know that you’ve got a group of people that think a lot of you and you think a lot of them, and the friendships that you make over the years. A lot of my large animals clients, I still have a great friendship with.

But I think probably the biggest perk is the true friendships that you develop with the people because what you’ve done for their animals or have done for them¦That is probably the biggest thing that I think I can, right off the top of my head. You know, compared with all this other stuff the money is nothing. Hopefully, a few of them will show up at my funeral. That’s the goal. And also the respect. Most of the time, people respect you.

Is there anything you find exciting about this career?

When I was doing large animal; obstetrics, delivering calves, doing that was the most exciting part of the practice. Because every one was different. The exciting part of what I enjoy doing more than anything in this practice is surgery, whether it’s general surgery or whether it’s emergency. I enjoy it because it’s just me and the dog in there, and one other person. I think it’s probably the most rewarding part of this thing is the surgery that you do: the saving the lives, the making lives better. I just enjoy the hell out of surgery.

What education or skills are needed to do be a veterinarian?

Well, of course, you have to have four years of college. With the right classes, the right grade point average, having an advisor that gets you down the right path, being in a state that has a veterinary school has a lot of advantages. This state does not have a veterinary school, so they have to rely on contracts with other surrounding states to take so many veterinarians a year. Some people even if they don’t get into a veterinary school on their first application, they have to continue on with maybe a masters in some field, or just continue on with some more education. And then there is four years of veterinary school. There is no internship unless you want to specialize in something, and go and have an internship with a qualified veterinarian that is a specialist in his field. And that’s it on education. That’s it. You know, really, if you get in and go out and practice, it takes eight years.

A person should like sciences, they should like math, they should like to work hard, have as high a grade point average as you can have, and most of them have to work for a veterinarian, either during summer during their four years before they get into school. You have to have some degree of intelligence. You have to apply yourself and be able to make a four point grade average or as high as you can get to a four point average. Sciences and math are so important, you have to have a desire and ability¦And some people just can’t get science. Some people can’t get math. And you’ve got to have skills in both of those areas in order to make your way in college and toward the prerequisites that you have to have for veterinary school.

What is most challenging about what you do?

Diagnostics. The animal has very little ability to tell you where it hurts; whether they’re feeling better or whether you’re doing the right thing. You have to rely on the owner, you have to rely on the sixth sense. Diagnosing sick animals is the most challenging part of it all¦Diagnosing and being able to have a working relationship with that animal to know whether it is doing better, and taking history from the fifteen to twenty minutes you spend with a person in there¦I can’t have somebody come in with a sick dog, and drop it off and say, Here, fix it. Because I’ve got to have a whole lot more information than that. Diagnosing sick animals is probably the most difficult and challenging of all the things that we do.

What is most rewarding about being a veterinarian?

When you save an animal’s life. When you save an animal’s life or some little old lady comes in here and gives you a hug because you have saved her animal’s life. That’s what it’s all about. Some people don’t think it is. Some people think it’s money. The most rewarding thing to me is what I do for the animal.

What advice would you offer someone considering this career?

Be damn sure this is what you want to do. It’s a long ways through veterinary school. The first year is probably the most grueling part of the whole thing. The gross anatomy where you’ve got all these species of animals to learn about. You have to have dedication, and have patience, and you need to have a work ethic.

It ain’t an 8-5 job, there are many times you have to put in longer hours. I’d say that most veterinary students come away from school with about $150,000 in debt, and that takes a lot out of your income to start with. It’s a difficult road the first five years out of school. You just don’t come out of veterinary school and say, Here I am. I’m a veterinarian, you know, ¦and you’re going to get this big salary, and life is going to be great. It’s not. The person needs to have patience, and want, and have a desire. There has to be that desire to be a veterinarian. Just because it looks like it might be monetarily rewarding, it won’t be for a while.

How much time off do you get/take?

Personally, all I take off is one week a year. And I’m not the normal. Most veterinarians today that go into a group practice, they will get probably a month off a year. I would say that’s going to be pretty well normal. But not for somebody that’s a single-man practice. You don’t get to take off a week here, a week there, you know. People get tired of you not being around and go someplace else, because it’s very easy for them to just go across the street or down the road. Here in this town we have seven or eight clinics.

What is a common misconception people have about what you do?

That we make lots of money. That is the most common misconception. We are probably the lowest paid of all the professionals. If you talk about lawyers and dentists and even chiropractors. You could even put chiropractors in there. You know, we’re probably one of the lowest paid professional group that there is. That’s the biggest misconception. That we are filthy rich, and we ain’t. We just¦we’re just about like anybody that has a business. Just making it¦

What are your goals/dreams for the future?

It’s to be able to slow down in five years and to work part-time. I don’t ever foresee completely retiring unless I am unable to perform. This has been my life work, so I’m not going to give it up that easily. I don’t want to give it up that easily.

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{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

animal lover???? July 22, 2014 at 10:18 am

I am 12 and I want to be a vetranairian when I get older but I don’t know what I could research or do to make me smarter for when I go to vetranairian school
Can some one tell me what I can do?! PLEASE

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crystal May 21, 2014 at 7:38 pm

this was very helpful to me because I really needed it to help me with career day but I need the persons name whoever wrote this information. thank you so much

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R. Smith July 23, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Wow, this is the most thorough interview with a veterinarian I’ve ever seen. Good job! Definitely a job to pursue for animal lovers.

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McKenna May 21, 2013 at 5:29 am

This was so helpful to me. I have been trying to choose between a Teacher and a Veterinarian to have my career be. Now I know I am going to be a vet.

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Abigail May 13, 2013 at 10:05 am

this was an amazing interview and i cant wait till i’m a vet this really help with my project thank you…

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Robert May 3, 2013 at 2:06 pm

I am researching about veterinarians and there different practices in the government and outside of the government in private practices. I was wondering if one of you could help me answer a couple questions on my research only if you have the time however. If so please email that you are available to answer a couple of research questions.

Thank you,

Robert

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angelica April 12, 2013 at 11:12 am

this website really help me to know what i want to be when i grow up…..so i hope i’ll still want to be a vet when i am about to got to high school

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sam October 20, 2012 at 9:30 am

It was very interesting and motivating. I hope I get far as a vet. THis is going to help me on my project

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kmw October 19, 2012 at 11:22 am

i love this website interview was awesome

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Starfire May 4, 2012 at 1:18 pm

This interview is VERY useful for the project I’m doing.
Thank You!

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nakya ferrell April 30, 2012 at 8:28 pm

perfect for my project

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rachealbrebre April 17, 2012 at 8:12 am

Bye you guys im in school and i love this website and im so going for it

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starciennagrace April 17, 2012 at 8:12 am

This website is so helpful!! I hope to become a vet one day!!!!

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vidi lor March 28, 2012 at 12:50 pm

thanx this helped me with my project on careers:)

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Michelle March 13, 2012 at 10:30 pm

Hi, I’m 13 years old, and ever since I was young, I’ve always been in love with the idea of helping ill and diseased animals. I’ve done a lot of research over this career, it seems extremely competitive. It is very competitive because there are so many people I’ve seen that want to become veterinarians. I am aware of all the blood, organs and bones that are involved in this career, I’m also aware than not all of the surgeries or operations are going to be successful. But being a vet is a beautiful thing, and I highly encourage young people to keep up with this dream. Becoming a vet is competitive and requires a lot of dedication and work ethic, but it’s not impossible, there are many successful vets these days. Don’t give up on the satisfaction of saving an animal’s life. If you keep up with the dream of becoming a vet and have a lot of faith in yourself, then you will reach far. Just concentrate a lot on getting all A’s on Science and Math. ;) Good luck, future veterinarians. :)

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Me February 25, 2012 at 3:52 pm

I am a vet assistant and I love it….but this opened my eyes even more. I work with 6 Doctors, but since they are often very busy, I am not able to find out a lot about the profession.
Still, I am lucky to be working at a busy clinic and have learned a LOT so far. Love animals and hope to be able to learn as much as I can about them. Thanks!

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Michelle Perez January 25, 2012 at 9:36 pm

I want to be a veterinarian when i grow up

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Irene January 21, 2012 at 10:29 am

If you could please answer a few more questions for me as an interview through i would really appreciate that.

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Irene January 21, 2012 at 10:22 am

thank you so much:)

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Eireann January 21, 2012 at 9:03 am

Thank you for writing this; this is the first truly accurate representation of what it feels like to be a vet. I am 4.5 yrs out, and it’s NOT easy. I am struggling with crushing student loan debt, I am always worrying about my patients and trying to keep up with paperwork/client calls/an unbelievable amount to know in the face of so much chaos/and keeping a bright and cheery/empathetic smile on my face for 12 hrs a day. Thanks for helping me feel I’m not alone in realizing the realities of this, my chosen profession.

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Irene January 11, 2012 at 8:44 pm

Im a senior in high school, and I am required to do a foundation for the future project, and mine is on becoming a veterinarian, and I am supposed to have a few interview’s done. So I was wondering if I could please have an interview with you via e-mail? If so that would be greatly appreciated.

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trave45 January 11, 2012 at 8:51 pm

Irene, thanks for the comment. Please feel free to quote and use this interview for your project. Just quote this website as the source. Thank you!

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ashley December 6, 2011 at 9:16 pm

im doing a project on becoming a vet and i loved your answers but i still have a few more questions can you plzz help me??

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funny chick December 2, 2011 at 9:17 am

This is a good and very easy A+++ on my ELA project!!!!!
Thanks for the interview answers Dr. whoever.

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sabrina December 2, 2011 at 8:02 am

i am soo in love <3 with vets because theuy do a wonderfull thing for us humans!! like they saved my dog it was such a merical!!!!!
~sabrina~

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jack November 18, 2011 at 1:18 pm

helped me on project i hope A++++

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kiana November 15, 2011 at 5:33 pm

can I get the name of the doctor that you interviewed so that I can write this up I MLA format…

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madison October 31, 2011 at 2:24 pm

this is awesome dude!

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ashley trefethen October 16, 2011 at 2:20 pm

i’m only 13 years old but i dream of becoming a vet.My mom said that sent’s i was 5 that is all i ever wanted to do is become a vet.My self used to live on a farm and so i was razed around animals.How it said up there i don’t care about the money or the many years of schooling i just care about the animals and helping there life become a more better place to live.I had many animals i had 5 horse 14 cat 3 dogs many chickens.i can wait to be older to be a vat,Thank you for posting this wed site.

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Christopher October 12, 2011 at 5:26 pm

thanks for the help on the research ……… i am writing a report on careers and this was my favorite since i was little.

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vet#1 October 11, 2011 at 3:42 pm

ladybug ,
i love animals so much i think i would be good as an vet i have looked at everything i need to no about vets and what they do i think i can make it very far in lfe if i become a vet i think that everyone that is a vet is the best person in the world by what they do to save people animals that they love very much

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Destinie Harvey October 10, 2011 at 3:28 pm

im writing a report on veterinarians and this helped me a lot thankxx (:

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trave45 October 4, 2011 at 4:36 pm

John,

Thanks for your comments. You are spot on. I would encourage you to click the ‘add your interview’ link at the top right of the site and submit your thoughts on being a Veterinarian yourself. We plan on profiling several professionals in each field to get a feel for the different circumstances, personalities, and experiences that are unique to each person. That will help better paint the picture of what it’s like in a particular job or profession. You sound like you have some great insights to share.

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John Tallamund September 28, 2011 at 7:18 pm

>Trave45

Whilst your comment about a sarcastic humour is completely understandable in this forum, I find that a great many Veterinarians are very adept at the scientific analysis component yet lacking in their social dealings. Comments regarding the psychology of pet owners comes across as extremely patronising as most owners are only met at a time of desperation. A measure of empathy, i feel, is required and biting one’s tongue, i suspect, in this instance is a two way street.
Alternatively, a sense of humour is extremely beneficial and after reading your comment I do believe it negates a great deal of what i found cold within this interview.

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Brookelle September 28, 2011 at 5:34 pm

I thought this was very helpful. Thank you for the helping me, i am writing a paper on being a veterinarian and this was very helpful !

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trave45 September 28, 2011 at 5:10 pm

Perhaps I’ll add some smiley faces or an explanation so the readers understand better. This vet really is a light-hearted individual.

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John Tallamund September 28, 2011 at 4:59 pm

Most vets have compassion which is sorely lacking here. I have met many vets who have understanding and caring attributes but this one has no respect for the job she performs. It’s unfortunate.
She takes peoples concerns about the animals they love as whining and an inconvenience to her day. I have been working in vet. science for 12 years. I have had my own practice for six. This is the most dreadful example of a vet I have ever seen. If this vet was in my country of origin, i’d report them.

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trave45 September 28, 2011 at 5:07 pm

This particular Vet was very funny and sarcastic. I interviewed him personally. He’s a great person, with a good heart, and his long term clients say as such. His practice wouldn’t have lasted so long if he wasn’t. Unfortunately wit and humor aren’t always easy to transcribe from the spoken to written word.

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kylee Loth September 21, 2011 at 7:08 am

thanks for the info i really needed it

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Tiana Celis July 21, 2011 at 12:55 am

Well,I’ve been wanting to be a vet everysince…I am only 12 turning 13 but hey what can I say I am so in love with helping other animals in need if they live on the streets if thier thrown away!But,so what animals are animals no matter what…I had 3 dogs named…..
Piti
Jaw
&
Marbel
Piti and Jaw were dogs that grew up with me but,I found Marbel at marbol Cave it’s a place on guam were it is fresh water from the sea…… I said hey She doesnt have raibie’s.but she made be sick maybe if we help her she can afford the life she never had I am only a 6th grader but hey dog’s are just like human being’s they need food,they need water..But the one thing they need most is LOVE and CAREFUL OWNERS……I am wanting to go to vet school when i grow up also do the medicine’s they need……So that’s my acomplishment in life!!!
Your’s Truly,
Tiana Celis

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Anne June 2, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Thank you very much. I’m only 13 as of now, but I dream of becoming a vet some day. I know it won’t be easy, short or filled with money, but its what I want to do. I love animals. My first dog right now is still alive, and turning 7 years old in July.. She’s my best friend. And thinking about how illness, accidents and just plain old age could take her away hurts. I won’t be able to fix old age, but I truly hope I can help animals with illnesses and broken bones and such. I’m not in it for an easy time, I’m in it for the animals. Thank you for your inspiring story, and for an honest look into a vet’s life. It doesn’t look glamorous, but it still looks worth it =)

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Taylor May 17, 2011 at 10:48 am

Thank you for helping me out, I am wrighting a huge paper about becoming a veterinarian and this really helped me out. I love helping animals and i love seeing other people that think the same.

Thank you,
Taylor :D

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Jenny Park May 11, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Can I have an e-mail interview with you?
I have a dream job project to do and I need to interview a person that
is already what you want to be.

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Smookie May 9, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Thank God I’ve been looking for research for my project and I couldn’t find anything helpful, good thing I found this it has plenty of information and plus it’s from a real veterinarian himself. I’m totally going to ace this project:)

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alize mcbryde April 15, 2011 at 12:23 pm

thanks this helped me alot !!!!!!!!!!!!

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saafia lewis April 6, 2011 at 12:41 am

hi my name is saafia lewis and i enjoyed reading this interview.. i myself would like to become a vet and honestly this is my passion and it’s good to read about some one who also shares the same passion.. and i hope to get farther in this industry as well.
thank you,
saafia lewis

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kara barnes February 3, 2011 at 10:40 am

hey my name is kara barnes and i am a senior at Mt Calvary. i am doing a paper on becoming a vet, and i was wondering if i can ask you a few questions to put in my paper?

thank you,
kara Barnes

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kara barnes February 2, 2011 at 10:33 am

hey my name is kara barnes and i am a senior at Mt Calvary. i am doing a paper on becoming a vet, and i was wondering if i can ask you a few questions to put in my paper?

thank you,
kara Barnes

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Elizabeth December 7, 2010 at 7:35 am

This was so perfect for my project. Thanks! :D

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* girl November 15, 2010 at 4:15 pm

amazing!!(:

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vidi lor March 30, 2012 at 10:50 am

i think its amazing too:)

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ayonna October 21, 2010 at 7:22 am

i like this interview perfect for my project i have to do

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Ariana May 25, 2010 at 7:08 pm

I thought this was so helpful, and insightful, and interesting. I’ve been volunteering for three years at a wildlife sanctuary, I’m a junior in high school, and I’m interning at the sanctuary my senior year. I’m so excited to intern next year and have new opportunities opened up to me to work even more closely with the animals. But, it can be so discouraging to hear about veterinary school. It seems impossible to get in, and I keep hearing about the importance of math. I can do metric conversions and the like, but calculus is not my thing, so it’s really nice to read about people who are so positive about the industry despite all these hurdles. I’m going to pursue a career in veterinary medicine, because the people who do it seem so passionate and consistently happy with their work, and because I know I can’t spend the rest of my life not working with wildlife. This has been a really helpful article. Thank you for taking the time to write it.

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