“Dear Pet Owner,
I am writing this to you because I am human. I am a Veterinary Assistant, or a Veterinary Technician with hours of education and debt, or a Veterinarian with even more hours of education and even more debt. But I am still human. My feelings can be hurt.
For those of you that think we only do this for the money, google the average salary of a veterinary assistant (about the same as an Aldi cashier) or a veterinary technician (about the same as a carpet cleaning technician) or a veterinarian (about the same as a marketing manager). I can assure you, the physical and emotional toll is not worth what we are paid.
We do this for the love of animals. Or at least that's how it starts. A glimmer of something bigger than us. The thought that we can make a difference in the lives of pets and their owners. We want to save lives, heal the sick and help ease the passing of those we can’t.
Before you accuse us of only wanting financial gain, ask us when was the last time we helped an owner to relinquish a very sick pet because we could not bring ourselves to see it die because their good-hearted humans just didn’t have the money. Ask us why we then take on the debt of the surgery or treatment and lifelong care ourselves. Ask us how we feel when we cannot help because we are already paying that large bill from the last one we tried to save, whether or not that pet lived.
Ask us how it feels to be told we have no heart, to be told that if we really cared about animals, we would do this for free. Ask us how much it saddens us when we prepare an estimate only to find it is out of your reach. It kills us that we cannot just reach into our pockets and pull out the checkbook and help you as you agonize over the life and death of your pet. Although sometimes we do. Sometimes we just can’t bear the sadness and we do help to pay a bill. We don’t expect to get paid back, and 99% of the time, we don’t. Your pet’s life is worth more than the money it will take to treat it. Your pet’s life is priceless, to us as well as you.
But the places we work are bound by the same financial laws of every other business. They have to pay the rent/mortgage, utilities, equipment, medical supplies, and staff it takes to treat your pet. They even pay the snowplow guy that makes sure you can get into our lot on a cold winter night or the lawn service that makes sure your pet can pee in the grass without disappearing. This is not a utopia where money doesn’t exist. If we did everything for free, just for the love of animals, the place you take your pet for care would cease to exist. We wish it weren’t so, as do you, but it is reality.
Ask us about the multiple animals we support in our own households because no one wanted them or could not fix them. Ask us about those patients that stay with us long after we leave the building. The ones that make us cry through the night while we hug our own pets tightly.
Ask us how heartless we are when we have to look both you and your pet in the eye and deliver bad news. Ask us how many deaths we have witnessed, how many owners we have hugged and cried with. Ask us how we try to keep it together and remain professional until we walk out of the room, then cry. Do not mistake our stoicism for lack of caring. It is merely a thin layer of protection for our hearts.
Ask the ER veterinarian, technician, assistant how it feels to work 16 hours just to have the very pet you diligently attended, grew attached to, pass away or be euthanized because no matter what we did, it was just too sick. Ask us if we grieve with you.... because we do.
Ask us how we feel when we take your bleeding, broken, seizing, crying pet from your arms when you come in the door.
Ask us how we feel when we take your unresponsive pet and race it to the back only to find they are gone and now we have to come back and tell you. We want to hug you while you sob and sometimes we do because we’ve all been there, we know how it feels. We are all too familiar with the heart-wrenching pain that comes with losing a pet, a friend, a family member. Ask us how we feel when we cannot fix our own pets, even with all our resources and knowledge.
Now, let me tell you why we do this for a living…..
For the love of animals” - Sara Legler, Vet Tech
EDIT: If you'd like to support your veterinary support staff, consider leaving them a good review, writing them a thank you card, sending them flowers or any edible goodies are never turned away ;)
#vettechlife #movettech #movta Photo: Marissa Dubois
This letter was originally published on the Missouri Vet Tech Association Facebook page. Please support them and like their page, but please also always remember, that no matter where you live in this world, please show kindness and support to those who work in animal care and welfare.