In a tearful post, a veterinarian shares just how emotionally draining the job really is.
Tracy Lee Richardson/Facebook, Marliese Streefland on Unsplash

Many animal-loving kids grow up thinking they want to be veterinarians, imagining that working with cute and cuddly critters all day long must be a dream job.

But the reality of being a vet isn't a whole lot different than the reality of being a doctor for humans. You have to have about the same amount of schooling, but you have to know about the biology of many different species. And while helping animals can certainly be rewarding, the truth is that a lot of a vet's job isn't all cuddles and cuteness.

Veterinarian Tracy Lee Richardson shared a story from particularly hard day on Facebook to help people understand what vets go through.


"I always post pictures of puppies," she wrote. "So many of you might think that my job is all rainbows and butterflies. However in reality, it can be the exact opposite.

Today I had to euthanize a very sick dog. During the process, the owner had his son on FaceTime who started to sing a song that he had written for the dog. It was absolutely beautiful. Tears immediately ran down my face, almost in sync with his guitar. I sat in the room with the other family members and just cried my heart out with them.

Unfortunately, that's not the hard part. I had to eventually leave the room, finish crying in the bathroom and then recompose myself to head into the next exam room. I was praying for my next patient to be a new puppy to brighten my spirits, but it was another sick dog on the brink of euthanasia as well.

This is a HUGE reason the suicide rate is extremely high in my profession. So please always be kind to your veterinarian and veterinary staff. Our jobs are much harder than we give off.

I absolutely love my job. I do not regret becoming a veterinarian, but there are just some days it sucks."

Many people may not realize that the suicide rate for veterinarians is high. In fact, female vets are about 3.5 times more likely to die by suicide than the general population. Some of it is the depressing nature of the euthanasia aspect of the job. But in addition to compassion fatigue, vets are also often mistreated by their patients' owners. People don't like having to pay for medications or services for animals, and vets report consistently being asked to have fees waived. When you're dealing with huge medical school debt and then have customers get angry because they don't want to pay you, it's rough.

So be kind to your vet and their staff. They're likely dealing with a lot more stress than we realize.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Welcometoterranova and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Welcometoterranova-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.