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Unsung: Craig Sutter

Unsung: Craig Sutter
October 14, 2015 No comments


In the summer of 2014, I traveled with International Veterinary Outreach to Nicaragua to provide free animal care, wellness, and educational projects to local villages in the area. During our first clinic, a dog was brought to us around nine in the morning in terrible shape. The poor pup was obtunded, hyperthermic, and had the worst flea and tick burden I have ever seen. The parasites were so profound, they were actually causing anemia and shock in this patient. Our team acted quickly to stabilize the patient and then began the long process of pulling ticks off. Over the course of the next six hours, team members rotated every hour monitoring vitals, removing ticks, and administering fluids. Although the situation seemed dire at first, the animal’s temperature slowly returned to normal and she regained normal mentation. We removed as many ticks as we could but the sun eventually began to set on our clinic. We sent the owners home with topical medication for tick prevention and taught them how to remove and kill ticks safely. As for the dog, she was able to walk out of the clinic looking like a completely different animal.

This story is one of the more impactful in my short career so far because of the teamwork exhibited by my colleagues and the difference we made in that animal’s life. That dog would not have survived the week and it was honestly the first time in my life I can say I played a significant role in saving. It relayed the impact I can have in this field and made me excited for what the future holds.

I am a third year veterinary student at UC Davis. I am small animal track and have aspirations to own a veterinary practice one day. I am also currently a Co-President of IVO-Project Nicaragua, a 501c3 NGO that offers free veterinary care, education, and welfare for underserved communities in northwestern Nicaragua.

When things get difficult, what keeps you going?

When our curriculum is overly stressful, I like to remind myself of why I am here. My class wrote an oath that we all took prior to beginning our curriculum that stated we would be the voice for those unable to speak. That line always reminds me of the crucial role veterinarians play in our society as we are the link between humans and their furry family members.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting in your position?

Take care of your mental health. We aren’t just veterinarians; we are therapists who have to take the emotional burdens of others on top of our own. In any given day we deal with new life, death of a family companion, anger, denial, tears; through it all we are expected to remain a source of emotional support for our clients. Compassion fatigue is a serious issue in our profession and has led to depression and suicide in members of the profession. So to anyone interested in the profession, I would say to remember what makes you laugh and smile. Go for a walk with your dog, take a night off every now and then, and remember that you are entering into the greatest profession in the world.

Why did you choose to be where you are today?

Veterinary medicine is a rare profession that blends the highest level of medicine with animal welfare and deep, emotional interactions with clients. For me personally, it resonated on so many levels from a very young age and when I was accepted into Davis, it was the best day of my life.

What does “Crafting Wellness” mean to you?

To me, crafting wellness means taking a direct involvement in improving the wellness of those I come in contact with through my profession. For me, this not only means the animals I’ll treat, but also their owners who are concerned with their family members. As a veterinarian I will have the opportunity to change many lives and I intend to change them for the better.

– Craig Sutter, 24, Veterinary Student at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine

Unsung, is a feature MDF proudly brings to the MDF community highlighting the incredible MDF’ers who are truly #CraftingWellness. We hope to inspire, encourage, and connect humanity by sharing the stories from the thousands of anonymous individuals whose imprint can be seen in the lives of countless others.

Posted in: blog