Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, veterinary professionals are on-call in veterinary emergency hospitals across the country.
The high-stress yet rewarding work has been captured on Emergency Vets, a television show that will air its 10th season this spring on the Animal Planet channel.
“We can’t always restore them to health but we can stop them from hurting, keep them from being afraid, and help the families,” said Kevin Fitzgerald, DVM, PhD, DABVP. Fitzgerald stars in the show and works at Alameda East Veterinary Hospital, the emergency hospital featured on Emergency Vets.
“I’ve been practicing for 23 years and I see something new every day,” Fitzgerald says. From gun shot wounds and dog fights to cancer and infectious diseases, “we see anything the streets of Denver can spit up.”
Yet many of those emergencies can be prevented, said Fitzgerald, who urges pet owners to prepare emergency kits and know where the closest emergency hospital is.
He suggests puppy-proofing the house and keeping medications outside of a pet’s reach (no night stand storage) as well as chemicals and fertilizers. He also advises pet owners to get pets spayed or neutered to reduce roaming and some behavior problems.
More than anything else, Fitzgerald urges pet owners to act quickly when pets become ill. “Early detection and treatment are crucial,” he said. “The ‘wait and see’ attitude is the most dangerous thing that can be done. You can’t be too careful.”
Despite his appearance on many – if not all 117 Emergency Vet episodes, all of which feature real clients and emergencies – Fitzgerald is quick to say, “I’m not any kind of celebrity. We’re veterinarians, not actors.”
Fitzgerald, however, is not your average veterinarian. A doctor with two advanced degrees in endocrinology, Fitzgerald is a diplomat of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP), and he is a stand-up comedian.
“Veterinary medicine is a harsh mistress,” Fitzgerald says by way of explaining the comedy. “I need a way to blow off steam, where nobody’s dying except me.”