I have, to be very blunt, killed a number of beloved pets while family members stand around me with tears streaming down their face.
I have given bad news to virtual strangers.
I have told people their pet has cancer, that it's organs are failing, that they are too badly injured or sick to help.
I have had to call people and tell them their pet died. Sometimes it was expected, sometimes not. Do you know what it's like to make that phone call? Probably not. And you are lucky.
Like most veterinarians I spent a large amount of time and money on my education. Like most veterinarians I am still paying for it. Some will spend their entire career paying for it. And these are the things we get to do. How many people pay to enter a careeer that takes this much of an emotional toll?
Most of us attend veterinary school with the idea of helping pets live better, longer lives. And yet every day I see pets go home with less than optimal treatment, untreated chornic diseases, and limited preventive care. Do you know how many times I write "owner declined" in a day? Do you know how worthwhile that makes all those long nights of studying seem? The holidays I missed with my family? The disrupted evenings at home with my spouce?
There isn't one of us who hasn't seen puppies die. Or kittens. Or animal abuse or neglect. Again, what kind of person chooses this for their life? Veterinarians, as a whole are, people who love animals. People who are willing to live with the day to day sadness in order to try and provide quality care for pets.
And there are certainly plenty of people who do take good care of their pets, who appreciate their veterinarian, and many more happy stories than sad. But there are still days where it's downright depressing to think about all the time and money we spent in school just so that people can disregard science in favor of what they learned on some angry and fear based internet site or facebook post. I will grant you that there are some veterinarians who are lazy, greedy, or out-dated. But if you don't trust your vet, find another one. We are largely people who want what is best for animals. I think the above examples should illustrate that no one who didn't want to help pets would stay in this career, or even get started in it. It's not like we're all getting rich laughing about all the clients we suckered that day. It's more like we spend all day working to find an affordable solution for someone with limited funds so that their pet gets at least some care. And there isn't one of us that hasn't taken in a charity case, given away services or adopted a pet that was otherwise abandoned or destined for a preventable euthanasia. So it pains me that so many people would think that we would recommend medications or procedures that are harmful to a pet. And it's frustrating to look at all the anti-"x" posts and websites and read explanations that are clearly biologically and scientifically flawed as to why "x" is so bad for your pet. And some are just plain wrong and rooted in a total lack of knowledge and common sense.
Modern medicine has vastly improved both the quality and length of life of humans and animals. Is it perfect? No, but really, what is? Is it evolving? Yes. Are veterinarians trying to hurt your pet? No.
Likely the people who already agree with this will continue do so, and those that don't won't have their mind changed. But maybe they will at least think about it from another perspective before they choose internet rampage over science, school, and the veterinarian that will be there, without fail, the day you are that family in tears.