The Veterinary Profession

When the first man set foot on this earth he longed for companionship. He wanted some one to keep him company, help him hunt and most of all, be a friend. Since that first step, when man domesticated animals, pets have been a growing part of many people?s lives. It is estimated that over seventy-eight percent of Americans have some type of pet, ranging from a common dog to an exotic snake, sharing their home with them (Barns 1). Just like humans, animals get sick and need a special doctor with specialized training and knowledge in animal science. These specialists, known as veterinarians, help give people a better understanding of their animals, as well as caring for them in the event of illness or emergency. Since there are so many different types of animals, there are different sorts of vets, each with diverse duties, making it a complex and dedicated career.
In 1762 in Lyons, France the very first school of veterinary medicine was established (Hopke 584). Through the efforts of a man named Alexandre Liautard, the science of veterinary medicine was developed as a science in the United States, thus starting the American Veterinary Medical Association in 1863 (Hopke 584). As time progressed, many new colleges appeared all over the US. Although they were small and often private, they sparked the minds of many interested in their animal companions. Ever since veterinary medicine made its way here from Europe, it has made enormous strides in reducing the amounts of diseases contracted by humans from both domestic and wild animals.
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A veterinarian?s duties and tasks are quite vast. In a single day, one doctor can treat a dog with a broken toe, a monkey with intestinal problems, and a horse with a case of the blues. Not only do veterinarians care for pets, livestock, wild, sporting and lab animals but they protect humans against disease communicable by animals. Their jobs are extensive: diagnosing medical problems, dressing wounds, performing surgery, prescribing and administering medicines, and vaccinating against diseases (Barns 1). Veterinarians not only need to be good with animals, but also with people as well because they must be able to communicate well with the owner in a way they can understand to find out what the problem with their pet could be.
When most people think of a veterinarian, they think of a doctor that treats their dog or cat when they are sick. But that is only one kind of veterinarian. There is a wide assortment of vets in the field of veterinary medicine. First, there is the common companion vet, whose activities include diagnosing and treating smaller animals like the family pet and also advising the owner on proper care. Many practices offer kennels for boarding pets while their owners are away on vacation. Some vets even offer a grooming area. Of the 56,000 veterinarians in the United States, more than half of them are companion vets (Stockbridge 2). Most companion vets work in private practices, working normal office hours but are often called to emergency house calls at all hours of the night. The usual

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companion vet works about forty-eight to sixty hours a week and sometimes has to work holidays and weekends (Hopke 584)
Large animal veterinarians perform many of the same tasks companion veterinarians do, only on bigger animals such as horses and livestock. Often these doctors have to travel to their patients because the animals are more easily treated in their own environment due to their immense size. The patient may be in a rural area and the veterinarian will have to drive many miles to treat it. Large animal veterinarians often work out of well-equipped mobile clinics, which can be driven to the sick animal?s location (Barns 1). Some large animal veterinarians are employed by larger farms and ranches to work specifically for their business to treat the animals on their grounds (Lidz 144). These locales often have nice, clean facilities and are a lot nicer compared to the harsh conditions a roving vet has to work with.
Often zoos and wildlife refuges hire extremely skilled specialists to work on their staff and care for a wide assortment of exotic animals (Hopke 584). These veterinarians need to be able to work with a wide assortment of animals and perform a wide variety of jobs such as directing