World Veterinary Day, which took place on 30 April, is a day aboutcelebrating the crucial work veterinarians do in supporting animal health,animal welfare, people, and the environment.

The theme for World Veterinary Day this year was ‘Strengthening VeterinaryResilience’ – a timely reminder of the unprecedented strain the veterinaryindustry has felt over the past two years, and the extraordinary role thesector played in the pandemic response.

According to research conducted by Animal Medicines Australia, the pandemicsaw pet ownership numbers increase by nearly 20 per cent. The veterinaryprofession also had to quickly pivot to provide contactless consultations andtelehealth services. On top of the many challenges associated with thepandemic, the profession also faced bushfires and floods.

Further to this, research into veterinary mental health showed that 66.6 percent of respondents said they either have experienced or currently areexperiencing a mental health condition, five per cent higher than the nationalaverage.

Throughout all this, veterinarians have continued to keep the animals of thiscountry safe.

Pet Industry News wants to hero the visibility and inspiration of WorldVeterinary Day, so we’re launching a series of profiles on vets from aroundthe country, in the hope that we can raise awareness for the challenges theyface and pass on advice to the next generation of veterinarians.

This week we speak to Dr Teagan Lever, Head Vet at Pet Circle.

Pet: What kind of places has your career taken you and what kinds of roleshave led you to where you are now?

Dr Lever: Before joining Pet Circle I worked in a variety of clinicalsettings including mixed animal practice (including dogs, cats, horses, cattleand even camels), as well as primarily small animal (cat and dog) practices inSouth East Queensland and Canberra.

In 2016, I was lucky enough to get a job at Pet Circle as their in houseveterinarian. I had been looking for something a bit different and was drawnto the role as it gave me an opportunity to use my skills and experience in adifferent way. In 2019, I became Pet Circle’s Head Vet, which involves leadingour Vet Squad of 30 registered Australian vets and working with teams acrossPet Circle to manage our product range and offering.

Pet: Have there been any highlights or really defining moments of yourcareer so far?

Dr Lever: An early career highlight was performing my first ever dogcaesarean on a litter of Great Dane puppies on Christmas morning!

More recently, a big career highlight has been leading the expansion of thePet Circle Vet Squad during the pandemic. Lots of our customers were lookingfor pet advice online as they couldn’t get to their vets or in-store and wewanted to help. So we launched online vet video telehealth sessions in April2020, vet live chat in June 2020, and in January 2022, at the height of theDelta strain, we expanded our live chat service to be available 24 hours aday, 7 days a week.

It has been really exciting to grow our Vet Squad offering and increase ourteam from 8 to over 30 registered Australian vets over the past couple ofyears. As the only free vet service of its kind in Australia, our squad hashelped tens of thousands of Aussie pet parents during the pandemic and I amreally proud of this.

Pet: What do you love about what you do?

Dr Lever: I love connecting with pet parents and talking to them abouttheir pets. Being able to provide empathy and education to help them achievethe best outcome for their pets is what gets me up each morning.

I also love that my role allows me to help vets find balance in their workinglife by providing them an alternative to full time clinical practice.

Pet: What’s next for you – any goals or plans that you hope to achieve overthe next 12 months?

Dr Lever: I’d like to continue to expand our veterinary team at Pet Circleto be able to help more pet parents, including doubling the amount ofcustomers we speak to each month.

Dr KesHolliday, Dr Belinda Stancombe, and Dr Teagan Lever.

Pet: What are some of the biggest challenges facing the pet industry? Howcan the industry work to overcome those?

Dr Lever: A lack of regulation for pet food, treats, supplements and toysmeans that pet products sometimes put animals at risk. I think makingcompanies adhere to compulsory standards for these would greatly improve theindustry and the lives of pets in Australia.

Pet parents are also often given misleading or incorrect advice from sourcessuch as social media. I believe Australian pet owners need more education fromreputable sources and that’s where Pet Circle and the industry can providemore value.

Pet: Do you have any thoughts on how we can work to overcome the nationalvet shortage in Australia?

Dr Lever: I believe the key to overcoming the vet shortage is to addressthe reasons that veterinarians leave practice in Australia, namely stress andburnout, poor work life balance, and low remuneration. We need to find ways tooffer Australian vets flexible working arrangements and pay that iscommensurate with their experience and knowledge.

Pet: What advice would you offer to an aspiring veterinarian?

Dr Lever: Follow your passion but make sure you have a life outside ofwork too! Be prepared to negotiate working arrangements that suit you and finda mentor or someone with experience to debrief with after hard days. Don’taccept that just because your boss worked 60-hour weeks as a new grad that youhave to do that as well.

Pet: How did you celebrate National Vet Day?

Dr Lever: This year National Vet Day fell on a Saturday so I spent it withmy family – something I may not have been able to do in clinical practice. Wealso celebrated our Pet Circle Vet Squad and the amazing work they do bysending out an email to our customer base to thank our vets and encourage ourcustomers to also thank theirs.

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Tagged: Dr Teagan Lever, Pet Circle, World Veterinary Day

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