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Channelling a love for animals into a career

When furry, lovable critters get sick, Dr. Judy Au gives them the treatment and care befitting any loved one.

When furry, lovable critters get sick, Dr. Judy Au gives them the treatment and care befitting any loved one.

The spirited and passionate veterinarian heads up Danforth Veterinary Clinic in Toronto and also provides expert advice on live call-in show Animal House Calls, airing Tuesdays on Cable Pulse 24.

Giving advice and healing pets comes naturally to the 43-year-old who says the best part of being an animal doctor is seeing pets and owners go home happy.

“The most rewarding thing is making sure animals are healthy and being able to send them home with people so they can have their loved ones back,” Au said.

Despite having practised veterinary medicine for 16 years, Au’s love for animals is as strong as when she was five years old and would bring wounded birds home and try to bandage their broken wings to help them recover.

“As far back as I can recall I’ve loved animals. I love my career and I’ve never regretted the choice I’ve made. For my whole life that’s all I ever wanted to do,” Au said.

Au usually sees between 100 and 125 animals every week at her clinic and handles every aspect of pet health, from administering medicine and vaccines to performing dentistry and surgery. She says in many ways her work involves her as much with pet owners as it does with pets themselves, since educating owners is an important part of keeping pets healthy.

“You have to look after the animals and the owners at the same time — it’s like treating two pets in that you have two lives to look after,” Au said.

Au graduated from the Atlantic Veterinary College at the University of Prince Edward Island in 1993 and says starting out wasn’t easy because she had to switch from study mode into thinking about building a career.

“You come out of school and think, ‘We’ve learned so much, how do we narrow it down?’ But over time you start to get confident in both treating animals and doing surgery. A mentor is really important,” Au said.

Veterinary medicine is a competitive field and only five schools exist currently in Canada — one each at the universities of Guelph, Montreal, Prince Edward Island, Calgary and Saskatchewan. Au suggests people interested in becoming vets spend some time at a local vet clinic and keep their school grades high to maximize their chances of getting into a program.

“It’s not just the love of animals that’s going to get you through school, you have to have that passion and the smarts to do the work,” Au said.

 
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