Author: Robert J. Weiner, VMD, ABVP
May 20th marked the 40th anniversary of my graduation from veterinary college. In 1980 there were no fax machines, personal computers, laptops or cell phones. The internet hadn’t been invented, there was no social media and a labradoodle was a mixed breed dog. A new and deadly disease of dogs, called Parvo virus, was sweeping the country. It would be another 3 years before practitioners had a reliable vaccine developed at Cornell. Veterinarians were just learning to recognize a new feline disease called hyperthyroidism. Sonograms and echocardiograms were only available for animals at the veterinary colleges and special hospitals like the Animal Medical Center in Manhattan. MRI’s weren’t readily available for human patients and it would be at least a decade before veterinarians had access to them. Veterinary clinicians wrote medical notes in physical charts and clients were reminded to schedule appointments with post cards that came in something called the mail. Few of us imagined that one day veterinarians could consult with each other or clients electronically or that general practices would be equipped to perform advanced laboratory tests within a few minutes. Nearly all veterinary practices were privately owned by at least one of the veterinarians who practiced there. Board certified veterinary specialists were found predominately at the 18 veterinary colleges that were in the United States at the time.
It would be euphemistic to state that much has changed. Veterinary medical science advances at a logarithmic rate and practitioners strive to keep up. Our awareness of the bond between animals and their owners has sharpened and the need to nurture this is more important than ever in our society that is experiencing unprecedented anxiety and isolation. I often muse that my staff comes to work for refuge. Considering what is going on in 2020 there really is some truth to that statement. Who but veterinary staff spend their day caring for puppies and kittens and other gentle creatures? I love the challenge of assessing medical issues and applying logic and science to solve the riddle. With some luck, the blessing of insight is bestowed that allows what might otherwise be an obscure or arcane answer to be found. Veterinarians live for those moments. My staff and I value the relationships we have with our clients that in some cases extend over generations. County Animal Hospital is an externship site for the Mercy College Licensed Veterinary Technician program. LVTs are vital to our profession and we enjoy the opportunity to help these students attain their goals. On any given day I may have students ranging from veterinary to grade school following me around. How wonderful is it that others want to do what you do and see you as a role model? Every profession and every time have its challenges, but given the opportunity, I’d do it all again.