24 hour Veterinarian in Toronto: from dogs and cats to tarantulas and rabbits

by Mohammad Arshad

Dr. Jon Mitelman being interviewed by Lucy Qi, Melissa Loparco and Mohammad Arshad at Centennial Journalism March 2012./ Barb Kelly photo

Dr. Jon Mitelman is the first one to admit that his job can be very testing, regardless of how much he loves doing what he does.

The veterinarian, from VetsToronto, was at the Centennial College campus in March, talking to journalism students about his job and his life.

He spoke candidly when asked whether an animal had ever died on his operating table.

“Fortunately it’s never happened in an elective procedure, but in a lot of emergency cases, the pets are brought in very rough shape or where surgery is absolutely necessary, […] the animals are going to die no matter what you do.”

Mitelman says that the best way to prepare clients for the death of their animal is to be totally honest with them. Telling them that death is a possibility helps them cope in the rare instances that it does occur.

“You always sensitize people, and tell them ‘Hey I got to go in and fix this and if I don’t, they’re going to die and if I do, they still might’.”

He admitted that doing this usually doesn’t make the clients or himself feel better but that it’s his responsibility to be always prepared for the times when a death does occur. Being totally honest, upfront and not allowing it to come as a surprise to clients is the best way to deal with the situation.

When asked whether a person had reacted angrily towards him after a pet had died, Mitelman stared forward and said “Absolutely”.

The student then asked him in what way.

Mitelman seemed to be taken aback by the question before answering after a long pause.

“It depends on the individual. Some people you need to let them blow off their steam. A lot of times they’re blaming themselves and they’re taking it out on you,” Mitelman said before exclaiming it’s an emotional process.

Mitelman, who graduated from the University of Guelph’s veterinarian college, has been a veterinarian since 2003. He joined the Kingston Road Animal Hospital soon after his graduation and became a business partner with the hospital’s founder Dr. Morris Samson. Mitelman admitted that he was very fortunate to enter into such a harmonious relationship as he’s seen plenty of other veterinary clinics currently struggling. He stressed that veterinarians coming out of college need to be willing to work hard and put in the hours in order to succeed.

Kingston Road Animal Hospital has been in operation for over 25 years. While it mostly cares for dogs and cats, Mitelman said they’ve seen other more exotic pets at the hospital such as a tarantula, rabbits and even birds. In 2008, the hospital launched VETS Toronto, a 24 hour emergency animal care service.

While Mitelman acknowledged that VETS Toronto has made his work schedule busier, he insisted that regardless of how much work is piled up in front of him, he always has time to do things that are important to him.

“The busier you are, the more efficient you are, so the more you do, the better you learn on how to manage your time.”

Mitelman then gave the students some friendly advice. He told them that regardless of whatever they find themselves doing in the future, they should always have a hobby.

“Get your work done and find something else to do. Get a hobby, get a distraction, and make sure you book time off to do exercise because that’s always going to be a healthy distraction.”