Musings of a Veterinarian

In the Line of Duty

April 28, 2010 By: Dr. K Category: General

You certainly don’t think of the veterinary profession as one where performance of duties risks loss of life. Police, fireman, and men and women in our armed forces certainly face the prospect of death daily, but veterinarians rarely need to worry. Sadly, a small animal veterinary colleague died this month after she was struck by a vehicle while attending to two dogs who laid in the road outside her home. The driver fled the scene but has since been arrested and jailed.

Dr. Kathryn Gilpatrick, 37, died assisting her neighbor’s dogs who strayed into the road near Knoxville, Tennessee. We animal lovers put ourselves in harm’s way treating these animals. I know the emotional trauma of seeing pets in the road struck repeatedly by traffic. As a teenager, I stopped in the middle of the night to carry a wayward snapping turtle across a darkened road to ensure its safety with disregard for my own. I’ve even pulled over on the side of the highway to help fearful dogs who’ve found themselves in the middle of traffic. I won’t say these traits are innate but they come pretty close. Veterinarians share the passion to preserve animal life and alleviate suffering. I am sure Dr. Gilpatrick died doing what she loved.

Like Dr. Gilpatrick, I find myself unable to sit idly by during times of crisis. It’s humbling to view the fragility of life and to know the call of duty, however great or small, comes with great implications.

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