It’s been a while since we’ve interviewed animal advocates, so I’m very excited to introduce you to Lorie Huston, a veterinarian and animal advocate who is always doing some really interesting things for the pups! Lorie is the Feature Writer for Pet Care at Suite101.com. She is also the National Pet Health Care Examiner at Examiner.com and she keeps a blog, the Pet Health Care Gazette, which she is currently contributing to on a regular basis.
UFP: Lorie, what inspired you to become a veterinarian and advocate for animal welfare?
LH: The obvious answer is that I love animals and I love helping them. But it actually goes much deeper than that. Being a veterinarian involves not only working with pets but working with the people who care for those pets as well. Sometimes, a veterinarian needs to be a teacher, adviser or confidante as well as being a doctor. Other times, just providing an open ear to a concerned pet owner is enough. These roles are equally important in being a successful veterinarian and are, for me, rewarding parts of the career.
As to being an advocate for animal welfare, there are so many people that do so much more than I do in that field, I don’t feel like I can take a lot of credit for that. I do think it is important to speak out about the things that I know are unjust or just plain wrong. So, when someone starts telling me about how bad pit bulls are, I feel obligated to challenge that assumption. On a different but similar topic, I’ve seen first-hand the consequences of puppy mill breeding and so feel obligated to tell people about what I’ve seen and experienced, especially knowing that there are still so many people that are totally unaware of this situation. And, of course, nobody should need to be convinced that dog fighting is anything other than an evil sadistic practice. But still the practice goes on. And I’m not always sure the punishment fits the crime when it comes to the types of people who are able to inflict that kind of injury and abuse on a defenseless animal.
UFP: What is some advice you’d give to others who are interested in turning their love of animals into a career?
LH: I would say follow your heart and don’t let anyone else talk you out of it. Remember, there are lots of career choices that involve working with pets. If veterinary medicine doesn’t appeal to you, you might consider a career in training or in grooming. Of course, rescue and shelter work can be quite rewarding (although difficult at times) as well. There are other options too. Spend some time shadowing a veterinarian or a trainer or a groomer or someone employed in whatever animal field interests you before you make a decision. That can be a wonderful way to see what the job is really like and whether it fits your personality and career goals.
UFP: What is the most rewarding thing about being a vet?
LH: It’s difficult to choose just one thing. There are so many things that are rewarding. But if I had to be nailed down to just one thing, I guess it would be the sense of satisfaction that comes with knowing I’ve been able to help someone solve a problem for their pet. Of course, the cases with happy endings are by far the most rewarding. But there have also been times when a loving pet owner has hugged me or sent me a small token of their appreciation after losing a battle for their pet’s life. These people often thank me for helping them to take care of their pet and for helping them to make the right decisions for their pet. Those types of gestures, for me, communicate a sense of trust and gratitude that it is very profound, even moreso because of the sad time for the pet owner.
UFP: What do you hope to accomplish with the Pet Health Care Gazette?
LH: I started the Pet Health Care Gazette as a means of educating people about proper pet care. The primary objective has always been to give my readers the information they need to make intelligent, informed choices for their pets. That remains my primary objective and is not likely to change. At the same time, the Pet Health Care Gazette has become my voice in advocating for the things I feel passionately about. Though I write in many other arenas, the Pet Health Care Gazette is the place where I can voice my own opinions and speak about the things that I feel are most important, including things like puppy mills, pit bulls and breed-specific legislation, the benefits of adopting a pet from a shelter or rescue versus a pet shop or even a breeder and the advantages of adopting pets that others might not be as willing to adopt (senior pets, pets with infirmities, etc.)
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