Laura Lefkowitz shares a vet’s tale

Laura Lefkowitz shares a vet’s tale

Image Credit: Jonathan Cohen.
Photography: Jonathan Cohen.

​Wouldn’t it be awesome to be a veterinarian and just work with animals?

Laura Lefkowitz ’89 says that sounds fabulous when you’re watching from afar. In Bite Me: Tell-All Tales of an Emergency Veterinarian, the longtime vet tells readers early and often that the work isn’t just warm fuzzies.

“I’ve always had a storyteller mind, and I see humor where others don’t,” says Lefkowitz, an emergency veterinarian at WestVet in Boise, Idaho. “Each day, I’d write about my emotions or funny things that happened. It took me 20 years to collect these stories.”

It only took a few weeks last summer for the e-version of her book to reach the Top 5 of Kindle’s Animals & Pets section. Before Lefkowitz gets to the funnies in Bite Me, and before you can get comfy in your chair reading it, she shares that vets have the highest suicide rate of any profession. Blame it on a large workload, superficial training, and the high rate of inadequate medical care and needless euthanasia driven by owners’ inabilities to care for their sick or injured pets.

“Our training is a mile long and an inch deep,” she says. “Most of us are generalists forced to deal with situations beyond our training. Owners have huge expectations that we can fix everything.”

She has always had a love of animals, but an experience at home the summer before her junior year influenced her career choice. While her mother was gardening, a van rolled down the driveway and pinned her mother underneath. Lefkowitz called 911, then tried to calm her mother until help arrived.

“It reaffirmed that I wanted to pursue a career in medicine, and that I was capable of handling the stress and emotions during medical emergencies,” Lefkowitz wrote.

Lefkowitz has been bitten by a hamster (laugh if you must, but it’s worse than it sounds), attacked by dogs and worked past the point of exhaustion only to come back for more. Despite the trials, she finds her work fulfilling and hopes to improve working conditions.

“I want to create a support network for vets,” she says. “Most vets work by themselves, and they’re isolated. We care just a little too much about animals and need to be better at caring for ourselves.”

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