Veterinary Day: ‘We help people every day’

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 28, 2018

By Maggie Blackwell
For the Salisbury Post

SALISBURY — Veterinarian Dr. Corrie Connolly says she can’t imagine doing another job feeling like she’s helping people as much as she does now, in her role as a veterinarian at Lazy 5 Vets.

The global veterinary community celebrates World Veterinary Day today, highlighting the important contributions of Connolly and veterinarians everywhere to benefit animals and society.

Connolly decided to be a vet as a freshman in high school and announced her decision to Dr. Ted James. “You should come work with me,” he said, but she was determined to work on large animals and it would be a waste of her time.

He convinced her. Connolly worked for him throughout college, and started full-time upon graduation in 2001. James was an old-school veterinarian who made sure to see to the client’s feelings as well as to the animal. The pastor even mentioned it at his funeral.

His influence must have been strong, as Connolly continues to work on small animals today.

Today Connolly uses this model to help young people coming up. “Vet medicine is one of those professions that a lot of young people aspire to, but we like to encourage them if that’s what you want to do, spend some time in a vet hospital and experience it first. It’s hard work and often emotionally taxing. Some young people may not be prepared for that.”

She grew up on a farm and often tended the animals, delivering dozens of babies. “You can’t take them to the vet for everything!” So as she learned techniques, it wasn’t so much a new experience as a revelation: “Oh, that’s how you do that.”

Surgery, however, is one of those things you can’t be shown once and do it, she says. It takes time to develop that skill.

The cycle of life is very acute in the vet clinic.

“Of course there’s a lot of things fulfilling about it. We help people every day; it’s what we do. Keeping a puppy healthy as long as we can. An injured or sick pet, it’s very nice to see the pet go home and have the client be happy about that. Even end of life; it’s a privilege to help owners get through that.”

There have been changes in veterinary care throughout her 15 years of service, but Connolly notes the biggest change occurred 30 years ago or more.

“When I started 15 years ago, pets were already established as family members. The bigger changes in small animal medicine happened before I graduated. In the past 20-30 years, animals became more family members. Historically pets took care of livestock and farm animals, but now they’re family members.”

Changes continue, however, to develop on a day-to-day basis. “Some years ago, a dog may be old or injured, and the vet would say, ‘there’s just nothing I can do.’

“Today we have options. That’s a good thing, but the decision is not simple for the client anymore.”

Some options may be financially out of the reach of the client. That, she adds, is another arena where good veterinarians can help counsel the client. Once again she refers to James, who thought of the client’s feelings.

A tour of the clinic reveals a huge operation – much bigger than appears from the building façade. “Camp Wagon Tails,” the boarding facility, features 50 kennels with heated floors, most with access to the outside. Cat facilities are separated from dogs, to maintain their composure.

Custom-built bathing facilities allow the groomers to care for the animals in a way that’s comfortable for all.

Animals with health issues are kept on another side of the building. They, too, have a yard for outside access, but the two yards are separated.

Each of the vets performs surgery and the operating room is brightly lit and adjacent to recovery rooms.

With a total of 35 employees, Lazy 5 Vets is quite an operation. But the kindest touch of all is the special room for end-of-life moments. It’s about three times the size of an exam room and features a large couch and lots of floor space. An exam table folds into the wall.

“Clients can lie on blankets with their animal in here, or be on the couch, and hold him as he passes on.” It’s a thoughtful touch for handling the inevitable.

Connelly is a member of the N.C. Veterinary Medical Association, a professional association engaged in promoting leadership, advocacy, professional and public education, and philanthropy on behalf of veterinary medicine. Today is World Veterinary Day.