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Because I don’t like people?

Written By: Jane Davidson RVN

I’ve always wondered when human nurses get asked ‘why did you want to become a nurse?’ if they ever answer ‘because I don’t like animals’? This type of reasoning can be some people’s answer about why they might like to be a vet nurse or vet. For us in the industry it goes without saying that stating ‘I don’t like people’ in a job or college interview isn’t going to get you in there, but for others it might not be quite so obvious to see. For anyone considering a career in the veterinary or related animal focussed industries you might want to consider the humans that come attached to every type of patient.


Every animal has a human

Yes, every animal you encounter in the vet world has a ‘human’ attached to them in some way. Owned, stray, wildlife, zoo animals, farm livestock, the mouse from the tube. They all required a human to ask for help for them. Yes, occasionally something turns up on your doorstep in a carrier or old shoebox with no apparent human, but there’s one there nonetheless. Even the ‘signed over’ or relinquished animals have a human still hovering around.


Who are these absent humans?

For those who own a human the relationship is usually quite simple: the human  is the one who brings them to the vets, pays the bill and takes the pet back home. That’s a simple situation. Things can get a lot more complex.


Stray or just found wanting?

Stray animals have by definition not been ‘alone’ all their life, so there may well be an owner looking for them and desperate to be reunited. I’m sure we all see the stories of pets reunited after years of being apart from their owner - this has only happened because veterinary staff have held the belief that this animal has ‘a human’ and has searched for them.



Wildlife have ‘owners’ too. Most wildlife that arrives at the vet clinic is brought by a human and, as they have invested time and energy in helping the poor creature, they often want to know what happens next. They frequently express an interest in finding out more, or being updated on their foundlings journey. They may also wish to donate money to help, or give some to a wildlife charity that can assist. These are very giving people, so their desire to know more should be respected and we should respond appropriately.


The bigger the number of animals…

The needs of zoo and farm animals can be similar in that there is often more than one human involved in deciding how best to treat and care for them, and also more than one person involved in the financial side. Having done some zoo nursing I was so impressed by the love and devotion of the keepers, and saw the balancing act between veterinary care, keepers care and also the need of the other animals that shared the same space. Groups of animals all react differently to having their friends treated by vets and this needs to be considered too.


A balancing act

In all these situations we in the veterinary field provide a balancing act between the patient’s and the human’s needs. Sometimes it’s actually harder to achieve this when the pet doesn’t have a traditional owner, but rather a finder/keeper/minder or other role in the animals life. I’ve always found it a privilege to be able to help the human animal bond, so for anyone thinking of a career with animals - learn to treasure that human interaction, as it can be show us humans at our best.

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