‘I always wanted to be a vet.’
Dr. Joshua Dratch, Bay Shore
“My father practiced veterinary medicine, and I had animals my whole life. I joke that I was raised in the cages. I always wanted to be a vet, but it wasn’t until I really enjoyed the sciences and the mathematics that it became a reality for me.
“After graduating with my degree, I came back to Long Island and worked for a few vets, hoping I would eventually end up working with my dad. I have now been working at the office I grew up in for the last eight years.
“Working with my dad has taught me a lot about the comfortability between a father and a son. We’re able to push each other. It really forms and builds a certain character. I have become more confident and strong because of our working relationship.
The best part of this work is seeing an ailing animal become more comfortable, not ill anymore, and back to their tail-wagging, practically smiling self.
“I think being a vet, people think we don’t want to deal with humans because we only like animals. But the truth is, we feel so connected to the owners. We offer the explanations. We are there in moments of grief and happiness.
“The best part of this work is seeing an ailing animal become more comfortable, not ill anymore, and back to their tail-wagging, practically smiling self. I get emotional just thinking about it. And, of course, the second-best part is connecting that dog back with their owner. It’s really very powerful.
“Losing an animal is so upsetting. I tell families all the time the only thing that helps with grief is time. Of course, we all grieve in our own ways. We see generations of families. Sometimes they eventually come back with another animal. Of course, this isn’t to replace what was lost, but it’s another chance to fill their home with love. We feel honored to be a part of that process.
“We have an amazing group of doctors here. I think there’s something that must be inside of us that speaks to this work. Whether it’s the understanding, the helplessness of the animal, thinking how they can’t talk or say what’s wrong, or that we simply, no matter what, just love being around them. That passion, that drive, that love, that commitment is so important to us as a basis before we even start our day.”
Interviewed by Maggie Rose Melito