Over the last 3 years, we have been taught from books: this is normal, this is abnormal, this disease causes these symptoms, etc. Our education has mainly been focused on the science of diseases. Teamwork, collaboration, and compassion have almost been put second to the science of veterinary medicine. It wasn’t until the past May that we were able to start putting what we learned from the books into a clinical perspective. Slowly, we’ve been learning how to put it all together. While deployed in Bastrop, these things (teamwork, collaboration, and compassion) were put in the forefront of the reasons we have chosen this profession. It was great to be able to experience first hand how everything we’ve been taught the last 4 years are truly intermingled.
Many of the animals we treated could have easy been euthanized simply due to the extent of their burns or the fact that they had no identification on them to prove they belonged to someone. But our team treated each and every animal with the same respect we would hope our own animals would receive in our absence. We were able to help these animals further fight what they already began to fight prior to our arrival.
While I can’t fully express in words my experience in Bastrop, I can say some of the things I took away from the deployment. Each member of the team is essential and no part is too small. We’ve all heard that statement growing up: from our parents, teachers, or coaches and it truly applies to our team, whether we are triaging large animals or small animals, each person on the team plays a vital role.
Compassion cannot be taught, but it can be better understood how to express it by observing others. Each member of our team put the animal’s well being first. They considered the extent of the injuries and the strength of the patient. They tried to do what is best for the patient, made each decision carefully, and never immediately jumped to euthanasia as a solution until the last resort. It was very helpful to see every thought process with each patient and every injury.
This deployment solidified my thoughts of why I chose this profession. We were able to help animals in a time when they needed it the most and were able to help reunite owners with their best friends. It is one of the best feelings in the world to help so many in a time of need. This experience alone added value not only to my professional education, but also to my every day education.