When the bad apple strikes

About now the story about the veterinarian in Texas who killed a feral – possibly owned – cat with a bow and arrow has made its way around enough to almost become old news. Normally, when I see a story involving a veterinarian and some sort of wrong doing, I try to find a way to understand how things went the way they did. Maybe the veterinarian was under a lot of pressure and couldn’t perform to the appropriate standard. Maybe they convinced themselves they weren’t doing it wrong, they were doing it “old school.” I might not like it and I might lose some respect for a colleague but I can at least rationalize to myself that weren’t really bad people. This one, not so much. I’m not posting a link to the story on purpose. If you haven’t seen it, it’s easy enough to find.

I’m not against hunting. I’m all for hunting I think hunting is a great tradition but this has nothing to do with hunting. I could almost even get behind it if there was some sort of bizarre city ordinance that allowed for the hunting of stray cats. As bizarre as that might sound, Wisconsin considered the idea in the Spring of 2005. Almost get behind it. I think that ordinance was a pretty terrible idea.

But it turns out that this particular cat might have actually belonged to someone in the neighborhood. So if you have an indoor outdoor kitty, when you let them in this evening for dinner, imagine the person you call when the cat is sick or needs its yearly physical putting an arrow through its head. And then bragging about it. Gross right?

A lot of my colleagues are upset by how this reflects on the profession, gives us a bad image and other things that are important but in my opinion slightly besides the point. Yes it sort of casts a black eye on the profession but in reality that is the biggest part of confusion and outrage in most of the people commenting on the issue. You’ll read it on every website it’s currently posted on, “but she’s a vet!” Unfortunately, some veterinarians are bad people. There are almost 100,000 of us. Even cities of 15,000 people have crimes. It’s part of being a collection of human beings. Some of them are going to make really bad decisions and a few will even be really crummy people. It happens. That doesn’t excuse it when it does but it should keep us, all of us, from acting as if that one somehow represents that entire group of people. They don’t.

So what do we do about it? The justice system will sort this one out. Maybe she’ll do jail time. Probably not. Maybe she’ll have her license revoked. Again, probably not. Maybe she’ll learn that actions have consequences and being a terrible person is a great way to make your life harder than it needs to be. Somehow, I don’t think people like this learn all that well.

For me, I’ll keep living by the same creed I’ve been living by since taking my oath. I want to go to bed tonight a better veterinarian and a better person than I was when I woke up this morning. But I might be just a little more deliberate about it in light of the actions of one of my “colleagues.”

Thanks for reading.

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