Incredible photos of love and loss inside a vet clinic

Paw prints taken from a deceased pet will be sent with a card to its owners. Source: Michael Weinhardt

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.

Vet
Millie, clearly not impressed, was administered medication orally, by Dr Jessica Winsall (left) and Dr Grace Butler.
Michael Weinhardt

Michael Weinhardt
Paw prints taken from a deceased pet will be sent with a card to its owners.
Michael Weinhardt

Vet
Dr Grace Butler (left) is consoled by Nurse Skye Longley after euthanising a dog whose owner was deeply upset.
Michael Weinhardt

Nurse Chelsea Rose (left), Dr Grace Butler (middle) and Head Nurse Stephanie Robertson. 19 February, 2018.
Nurse Chelsea Rose (left), Dr Grace Butler (middle) and Head Nurse Stephanie Robertson.
Michael Weinhardt

Daisie is returned to her owner, Daniella Cecere, after being de-sexed earlier in the day. 6 April, 2018.
Daisie is returned to her joyful owner after being de-sexed earlier in the day.
Michael Weinhardt

Vet
Dr Louise Grey, who has a passion caring for small and exotic animals, examines a guinea pig.
Michael Weinhardt

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

Vet
The cat belonging to Nurse Skye Longley (left), has been given a 10% chance of survival [at the time of photography].
Michael Weinhardt

Vet
Dr Fiona Starr palpates Annabelle who was brought in by her owner, (right). She could have been suffering a pancreatic episode.
Michael Weinhardt

Vet
Bill Frost grieves the loss of Ziggy who has just passed away after a losing battle with a massive infection.
Michael Weinhardt

Vet
Nurse Kelsey Savage in the midst of a busy day.
Michael Weinhardt

Vet
Dignity is momentarily suspended by the clinical need to store bodies in hygienic bags for storage and transport.
Michael Weinhardt

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Nurse Kelsey Savage had this tattoo applied after losing one of her pet dogs, Hank.
Michael Weinhardt

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

Vet
Nurse Maree Watt comforts Pheobe, a 15 year old who sadly is about to be euthanised.
Michael Weinhardt

Vet
Nurse Ana Manuolevao (right) brings her one month old son, Laulelei, to the practice to introduce him to staff.
Michael Weinhardt
 
Vet
Claudia Male (right) and Jarrod Male, who operate the ACT's PET AMBULANCE SERVICES, load a dog who is in a critical condition.
Michael Weinhardt

Vet
Staff unwind after work at a farewell dinner for two of their colleagues. Women outnumber men in veterinarian services at a ratio of 4:1.
Michael Weinhardt

Michael Weinhardt’s full photo essay is available to view here.

Insight wants to know what it’s really like for you at work. Do you work in a job that the public misunderstands? Is there something about your work that makes you want to blow the whistle? You can remain anonymous if you wish. Send an email to mystory@sbs.com.au

Source SBS Insight