DVM Newsmakers: An animal planet emergency vet's Robert Taylor says story of modern veterinary medicine must be told
"Hey, aren't you that guy on Animal Planet?"
The woman made the inquiry in line at the grocery store.
Before he could respond, she retorted, "No, you aren't that guy; he's better looking."The incident made Dr. Bob Taylor laugh. He's still that guy on Animal Planet's hit reality show "Emergency Vets" that now boasts of 125 million viewers worldwide.
In an exclusive interview with DVM Newsmagazine, Taylor, diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons and chief of staff at Alameda East Veterinary Hospital in Denver, a 24-doctor practice, talked about his experiences in veterinary medicine and work in television and with the media.
Emergency Vets, with Alameda East veterinarians Drs. Kevin Fitzgerald, Holly Knor and Jason Soukup, is the second-ranked show in Animal Planet's line-up behind "The Crocodile Hunter with Steve Irwin".
"We treat this as an opportunity to represent the veterinary profession and help people understand what veterinarians do."
"When you pull coins out of an Iguana's stomach, nobody has seen that before. When you are dealing with someone making an end-of-life decision about his or her dog, it is not something that many people have witnessed."
The story lines make the show move, and it's the brainchild of television producer Karen Wiser.
Though Taylor initially rejected the idea, a second query "captured our imagination." His initial interest in the program was to promote veterinary medicine. And while there is a financial arrangement involved, he sincerely hopes the goal is to showcase the sophistication of veterinary medicine and the professional standards embraced by veterinarians.
When a dog arrives at a veterinary hospital, "14 people touch that dog from the time he arrives at our hospital until he leaves," Taylor says. "Most consumers of veterinary services don't understand that. So, creating a transparency involved in the care of their animals would go a long way to helping people understand the complexity of veterinary medicine."
Take the message out The philosophy applies to veterinary medicine in general.
Taylor says it is happening already.
When he was president of the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association, he asked members to list organizations and public service entities they were active in — from Boy Scouts to high schools to day camps. He came up with an impressive list of more than 300 different organizations and public-service entities.
Taylor, who is quick to call himself a workaholic, also says that he is living his life with a sense of fulfillment.