When searching for a Vet for your furry friend, it’s hard to really understand why your Vet became a Vet, what their specialties are, and their background. That’s why we have begun a series of interviews of local Vets in NYC. Please see below an interview with Dr. Fortier, Veterinarian at All Ears Vet and Jamie Ruden, founder of Dog Spotted.
Dr. Fortier, thank you so much for joining us! Can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?
Thanks for speaking with me! I was born and raised in Rhode Island. I obtained my undergraduate degree in Pre-Veterinary Medicine at the University of Rhode Island. I then went to Michigan State University to obtain my Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree. After graduating I moved to New York City and started practicing in the Rockaways. Prior to becoming Medical Director at All Ears Veterinary, I was Chief of Staff of one general practice and Medical Director of another facility.
One service I offer that I believe has revolutionized the experience for pets is being Fear-Free Elite Certified.
Oh interesting, can you dive a little deeper into what Fear Fear Elite Certified is?
Fear Free is a philosophy that heavily considers animals’ emotional health and stress levels during veterinary visits. Instead of simply restraining animals to accomplish our exam and treatments, we try to make the veterinary experience as stress-free as possible. To become Elite Fear-Free Certified, I had to complete thirty-five hours of training. This included courses on general handling techniques, knowledge of drugs and supplements that reduce stress, and how to minimize stress in specific situations such as nail trims.
What does a typical appointment as a Fear Free Certified Vet look like?
First, we recommend that all pets come hungry so that they will be willing to take treats! Offering delicious treats such as spray cheese, Pup-peroni, peanut butter, and Churu helps our patients feel more comfortable and trust us. While we talk to the pet parents, we allow the pets to explore the room and eat. Once we’re ready to examine them, we rely on very gentle handling and treats to distract them as opposed to physically holding them in place. Throughout the visit we use a calm voice, gentle touch, food, and trying to accommodate a pet’s personal preferences. For example, if a pet wants to be examined on the floor as opposed to a table, we will work with that.
So what started it all? Why did you become a Vet?
I was originally interested in animal research. In high school I wanted to be an ornithologist (bird scientist) and in undergrad I anticipated going into primatology (research on monkeys and apes). While speaking with a guidance counselor to help choose my major, they discussed the Pre-Veterinary Major as a good option for me. After taking some medical classes my interest in veterinary medicine piqued and led me to become a veterinarian.
What is it like being a Vet? What is your favorite part of the job?
Most days start with me coming in and reviewing the bloodwork and other tests the night before. I then email the pet parents and discuss these findings. We also review the prior medical records for the morning appointments that we haven’t seen before. I then move into morning appointments. All Ears Veterinary we see a wide variety of cases. We have a lot of healthy puppy and kitten visits where we examine the pet and start initial vaccines and deworming. However, we see plenty of GI upset, orthopedic injuries, allergies, behavior consultations, and diagnose a lot of metabolic diseases such as diabetes or hyperthyroidism. Lunch gives us a time to reset the hospital, finish the morning’s charts, and start looking over the afternoon appointment’s prior records. Then we have a few more hours of appointments.
I have one surgery day a week. On these days, I do procedures instead of morning appointments. This involves making an anesthetic protocol beforehand. On the day of the procedure, I examine the pet and make sure there are no new problems since the last exam. My technician team places an IV catheter, gives them the drugs that I’ve ordered, and then I do their procedure. My most common procedures are spays, neuters, mass removals, and dental cleanings with extractions.
My favorite part of being a veterinarian is taking a pet that is nervous and getting them comfortable with my team and I. While I love medicine and talking to clients, it’s just so rewarding taking an animal that was fearful and watching them leave viewing us as their friend!
What is something you wish dog parents before a Vet appointment?
One thing I don’t think people realize is that we do review all prior medical and vaccine records. If you have these available, please send them to us as soon as you make the appointment. If you don’t have the actual records, please let us know what veterinary facilities you went to before. We want to make sure we’re not recommending vaccines or tests that have already been done. It’s also very important to look over a pet’s prior lab work and medications.
What’s something that your clients would be surprised to learn about you?
Writing is my biggest passion other than veterinary medicine. I’m currently working on finding a literary agent for my science fiction novel, The Ripple Effect.
What is your favorite part about Dog Spotted?
I love the overall layout of the site – it’s very clean! But as far as content, I love the list of dog-friendly areas in NYC.