I have had the same veterinarian for 13 years. When Lala, my first dog as an adult, was in the emergency room getting blood transfusions, with vets who admittedly did not know what to do, I called my Montecito dog-walking clients to ask, “Who is the best vet in Santa Barbara?” The answer was always the same. Let’s call him Dr. O.

I was 24 years old and scared. I called him after hours and left a frantic message on his voicemail. At 11:00 that night he called me personally to tell me to bring my dog down to Veterinary Medical and Surgical Group. He said, “She will be in the best care there.” In fact, she died, but she was well taken care of until her passing.

I was in the beginning of being an animal professional myself and I felt strongly that Dr. O was dedicated to helping animals. He would be my vet. Dr. O has seen Maia (my wolf dog) through cancer, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and quarantine for biting. One time, in Maia’s younger years, I took her to another vet for a scratched eye: That vet hit Maia with a closed fist for fussing and told me he would have to sew her eye shut for it to heal. I immediately took Maia back to Dr. O. He calmly had technicians restrain her. He breathed. He moved slowly and when Maia fussed he gave her some room and restrained her again. He scratched her eye more with a q-tip to stimulate the cells to heal, gave me some drops, and we were on our way with Maia’s eye in recovery.

When my cat Makia got diagnosed with diabetes, I felt confident that Dr. O. would put her on the right dosage of insulin. Then Joey, my oldest cat, who had just gotten diagnosed with a thyroid tumor, needed to be put under to have a tooth removed. Having them under anesthesia is scary when they are old, but I trusted my vet that Joey would be safe. My animals have all seen Dr. O in the last year for either a check up or for something more serious. I will ask them, “What makes a good veterinarian?” (They are all talking about Dr. O):

Joey (cat that just had his tooth taken out): “Someone who really cares about my mouth and cares to take out only the bad teeth and not the other ones. [Joey had dental x-rays]. Someone who comes to see the animal after the animal wakes up to make sure they are okay to go home.”

Makia (wolf dog with diabetes): “Someone who remembers other animals and their stories, in order to help the animal they are trying to help at the moment. Someone who continues to read on what can help animals.”

Maia (cancer-surviving cat): “Someone who wants you to get well even though they may think you are a little wild. Someone who wants you to feel comfortable when you are old and doesn’t give up on relieving your discomfort, and cares still how your blood looks.”

Storm (Aussie dog): “Someone who tells people to bring their pets in for blood-work often, and who takes time to pet you.”

Serafina (cat): “I think a good vet is someone who looks over your whole body and then explains to your mom everything they see. Someone who can talk well to animals’ people.”

Bean (bunny): “A vet that can cut a rabbit open and handle the operation if it is really hard, and who knows what rabbits should eat and what they should not eat.” (Bean had a difficult spay, and another vet told us to feed her strawberry jam to get her to eat. Strawberry jam is not good for bunnies and could do more harm.)


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