Photographer Michael Weinhardt spent months in a veterinary clinic to capture the emotional and sometimes deadly toll of caring.
When I learned that the suicide rate for Australia’s veterinarians is four times that of the general population, I wanted to experience – and capture – what it’s really like inside a clinic.
To that end, I spent months embedded in the Brudine Veterinary Hospital in Canberra’s north: a busy, suburban practice with twenty-five staff. Brudine is a good clinic with a healthy workplace culture. But no clinic is fully immune to the stress of life and death situations.
Working as a vet or a vet nurse is technically, physically and emotionally demanding. Long hours, high personal expectations and demanding clients mean anxiety, depression and burnout are all too common in this line of work.
In a word, I would describe what I experienced as ‘relentless’. But words can only say so much. All that I saw, felt and learned is portrayed through these photographs.
If what attracts you to the industry is a human-animal bond, then you’re going to get your heart broken. Essentially, I do things to animals that they don’t like very much, and they’re often not in a very good mood, and they may not have a very positive outcome […] So, if it’s a human-animal bond, then I think that maybe breeding or training dogs and cats might be better options.
— Dr Louise Grey
Everybody has a demand on you. They don’t come in to say, ‘Hi, how are you going?’ They come in with a problem, every 15 minutes. Emotionally, to deal with that, you have to find ways of coping.
— Dr Arianne Lowe
Michael Weinhardt’s full photo essay is available to view here.
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