Panel Discussion by Veterinarians: Drs. Hess, Sebzda, and Woon

For this edition of “Talking Animals,” we set aside the show’s usual format in favor of convening a panel of three veterinarians for a discussion of ethics and other topics. This approach was spurred, in part, by the news last year about that Virginia woman who was very ill, and had her healthy Shih Tzu euthanized so that the dog could be buried with her. I haven’t stopped thinking about this story, and I’ve wondered—both before and after the story broke—if veterinarians observe something akin to the Hippocratic oath. So, unsurprisingly, this was the initial ethical issue addressed by our panelists: Dr. Mary Sebzda (a transplanted Canadian who, 20 years ago, moved to southern California, where she’s primarily practiced small animal medicine; in 2011, she became a board-certified member of the American College of Theriogenologists. She trains and teaches veterinary students); Dr. Sy Woon (born and rasied in Australia, graduated from the University of Sydney. For the past five years, she’s been practicing in south Florida, and is the State Representative for the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, reflecting her passion for animal ethics and advocating for animal welfare); and Dr. Laurie Hess (one of approximately 150 board-certified avian specialists worldwide, she is the author of  the memoir, “Unlikely Companions: The Adventures of an Exotic Animal Doctor” and the owner of the Veterinary Center for Birds & Exotics, a bird and exotic pet specialty hospital in Westchester County, New York), who was unable to participate until the last 15 minutes or so of the discussion, because of coronavirus-related impact on how her hospital operates, as she explains in gripping detail. The other topics included the feline declaw procedure— many cat owners don’t realize the procedure actually constitutes amputation at the first knuckle of each toe—whether or not the vet would perform the surgery, and why; the impact of coronavirus on pets; the costs of veterinary care, and why the charges for the same treatment can vary widely at one office or another; and, finally, answering these two questions: 1) What’s the most difficult, trying part of being a veterinarian? 2) What’s the best, most rewarding part of being a veterinarian?

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals

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About the author
Duncan Strauss is the producer-host of “Talking Animals,” which he launched at KUCI in California in 2003, combining his passions for animals, radio, journalism, music and comedy. The show has aired since late 2005 on Tampa’s WMNF. Strauss lives in Jupiter Farms, FL with his family, including four cats, two horses and one dog. He spends each day talking to those animals, and maintains they talk right back to him, an as yet unverified claim.

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