This I Believe

Michelle - Cortland, New York
Entered on December 10, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I believe that helping animals is helping people.

Growing up, I was surrounded by animals. Living in the country outside a small town, my Dad owned a small farm. My mom’s house wasn’t much different, with the exception of the type of animals that resided there. Our house was always lively with dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, and fish. My parents instilled their love for animals in me. In fact, the first time I ever saw my Mom cry was when our dog Phoebe died.

Being raised in this environment, not unlike most children, I wanted to be an animal doctor when I grew up. But, as I did grow up, and reconsidered my childhood aspiration, despite my profound affection and love for animals, it became hard for me to justify saving animals when I could receive a similar education and maybe save people. With this in mind, I entered college with the intentions of preparing myself for medical school. But as I finished my junior year of college, I started thinking about the preparations I needed to make for med-school: the MCAT, a prep course, applications. The more I thought about it, the less motivated I felt to continue this track. Puzzled by what I would do after college, I was brought back to my childhood. I wanted to be an animal doctor—a veterinarian.

To be truly sure this is what I wanted for my life, I took a volunteer position at a local animal hospital. I needed to know that as a veterinarian, I was making a difference. The first appointment I observed, I witnessed a women so distraught and concerned by the sudden kidney failure of her cat Socks. She wanted us to do anything we could to save her Socks, who eventually made a full recovery. I quickly learned however, that not every story has a happy ending. Snoop, an old beagle, was not so lucky. Euthanasia was the only way to end poor Snoop’s pain. Watching his family cry and cradle him as he silently fell into an eternal sleep, reaffirmed my future.

The friendship and the compassion that pets bring to their owner’s life is a friendship that cannot easily be replaced by a human companion. It is something so unique. A bond not based on words. To form this connection with another species is compassion of the human race that cannot be reckoned with. Humans can find compassion for the smallest of creatures. When I am a vet, I will be taking care of someone’s best friend, playmate, and family. This I believe.