Dr. Justine Lee, stat to the ER!

I’m honored to join the ranks of Dr. Patty K and the gang at PetMD as one of their newest veterinary bloggers this year! I’m unique in that I’m a board-certified veterinary specialist in emergency critical care, which means I did an extra five years of training after vet school.

With that experience, I hope to share the insiders guide to pet emergencies and give you tips on how to avoid ending up in the animal ER to begin with!

As you may have already discovered, there are a lot of different veterinarians spanning many generations out there, and with that comes a lot of different personalities, moral and ethical beliefs, medical training, and opinions. To put it bluntly, you’ll find some good ones and some not so good ones out there. Personally, I’d like to group myself in the former — the type of vet that you’d want to have when you bring your pet to a late-night emergency clinic. With that, PetMD and I share a common passion: the hopes of protecting your pets!

So, as an intro, a little background about who I am:

I’m the "classic" veterinarian — I wanted to be a vet since I was a 7-year-old girl. Having found a baby bird on the sidewalk, I attempted to nurse it back to health in its newly created cardboard box nest. Despite my best attempts, the bird ended up dying the next morning (which is true with most wildlife — when in doubt, leave them where they are!). Having been totally traumatized by this death, I vowed to my parents that I was going to be a "veteran" when I grew up. In typical Chinese fashion, my parents stated that Cornell was the best vet school (after all, it’s Ivy League, and each Chinese parent's dream is a kid in the Ivys). Since that ill-fated day, I was destined for Cornell.

Years later, on the first day of vet school, the dean instilled in us that “If there’s one thing you learn from veterinary school, it’s how to pronounce 'veterinarian.' It’s 'vet-er-i-narian,' not 'vet-re-na-rian.'" Point taken. Thankfully, I learned a lot more than that, but now I’m officially a snob — I only pronounce it "vet-er-i-narian." So, if there’s one thing you learn from this blog, it’s how to pronounce "veterinarian" the right way.

After Cornell, I completed an internship at Angell, a busy veterinary specialty referral hospital in Boston.  From there, I completed a four year emergency critical care residency at University of Pennsylvania (Philly), and then moved to join the faculty of University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine from 2003-2008. Since then, I’ve moved to Pet Poison Helpline, a 24/7 animal poison control based out of Minneapolis, where I’m currently the Associate Director of Veterinary Services.

So, how did I end up blogging for PetMD? During the past few years, I wrote two humorous Q & A pet books entitled It’s a Dog’s Life… but It’s Your Carpet, and It’s a Cat’s World… You Just Live In It.  Having been bombarded by friends' and family's questions about their own personal pets, I realized that pet owners out there still had a lot of questions — from myths to overall health to more serious topics, like being their pet’s advocate. And having seen a lot of sad, depressing cases in the ER that could have been prevented by better client education, I embarked upon my passion and mission in life: to better educate pet owners to be their pet’s advocate. After all, they’re our four-legged family members, right?

So, join me as I blog weekly so you can experience the ups, downs, joys and tears of being a vet, while learning to be Fido’s advocate in the process. I’ll admit it — I’m opinionated, and you may not agree with everything I say, but it’s all with the goal of teaching you the answer to the question I’m bombarded with daily: What would you do if it was your own dog?

Dr. Justine Lee

Pic of the day: "Emergency Room" by Rosser321

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