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Kids Turn Hobbies/Education

Meet Vet, Janet Tobiassen (Crosby)

Name: Janet Tobiassen (Crosby)
Title: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. Small animal veterinarian with doctorate in veterinary medicine from Oregon State University. Interest areas include soft tissue surgery, genetic defects and diseases, and pet therapy for the elderly. She trained at Oregon State University, Washington State University and the Animal Medical Center in New York City. She is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). She is currently retired from clinic work to enjoy time with her young son (12/97), daughter (8/99), and husband.
Web Site: Veterinary Medicine at About


The Interview - Part II

Vet Janet

KE Q: Can people get sick working around sick animals?
Dr. Janet: Yes. There are certain diseases that can be spread from animals to humans. They are called "zoonotic diseases". Rabies, salmonella, ringworm, intestinal parasites -- just to name a few. Veterinarians must be very familiar with the animal species they are working on - what signs can indicate what disease, and how best to protect yourself. More on zoonotic diseases.

KE Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a Vet?
Dr. Janet: There are so many rewarding things...but I think the best of all is seeing that very sick dog or cat recover and be reunited with their family after a stay in the hospital. I have shared some of my favorite patient stories here.
The first story is a big standout in my memory of favorites. I wanted to adopt him so bad!
I have several very encouraging/heartwarming stories in the Success Stories index submitted by visitors to the site.

KE Q: What is the least rewarding thing about being a Vet?
Dr. Janet: Well, contrary to what most people think, being a vet is NOT just working with animals. It is working with people and their animals. Being a vet is being involved with life and death every day. This alone is stressful.

Pet owners are stressed too - upset that their pet is sick, that they don't have the money to pay for their pet's care, or that they have to wait for an appointment if the vet is dealing with an emergency. It can be a balancing act sometimes! Most people are wonderful to work with and are very understanding of what a vet can or can't do (vets don't always have all of the answers or means to fix everything - frustrating for owners and the vet alike).

KE Q: How do you 'talk' to animals to figure out what is wrong?
Dr. Janet: This is key to being a good diagnostician. A vet, unlike a human doctor who can ask where it hurts (most often), has to use his or her other senses --

SMELL: some diseases/conditions have a characteristic odor. It is important to notice small, subtle details
SIGHT: look for the non-obvious things. Example - a cat is presented for a small bite wound on his side. Doesn't look too bad. But look further...oh no...there are 4 other bites on the body too, covered up by hair. The wounds look like just a little hole...until you look further...big area under the skin that has been damaged! It is important to think ahead and look.
TOUCH: your hands are an important tool - learning to palpate (feel the organs under the skin) is valuable for identifying other conditions, such as tumors or bladder stones.
HEARING: listening to the heart, lungs, gut are used everyday. Listening closely for that raspy breath, clicking of a joint, etc can provide more answers as to what may be going on.
TASTE: well, luckily, this isn't a sense that we use for diagnosis!

The other big important area is COMMUNICATION...knowing what questions to ask the owner to figure out what may be going on. To ask: "How is your pet feeling?" Doesn't usually invoke much helpful info.
To ask: "Is she drinking normal amounts of water?" or "Does your pet notice when you walk in the room?" will provide the vet with much more useful information.

KE Q: What is your best advice for kids who want to become a Vet or are interested in working with animals?
Dr. Janet: Read about and work with animals as much as you can (4-H or similar animal clubs, volunteering at a shelter or vet's, getting a job at a vets).

KE Q: One final question....have you ever been bitten?
Dr. Janet: Yes....Job hazard.


Dr. Janet was a guest in our chat. You can read the transcript here.

Photo used with permission from Dr. Janet.